Military Superstitions

Pride and professionalism come to mind when thinking of the military. Those are not the buzz words for this article, though. Quirky and Superstitious are just as valid when talking about military behaviors and customs. So, what are some of the superstitions of the 5 branches?

  • In the Navy, coffee is almost a sacred item. No surprise there. Many professions covet the caffeine god known as Coffee. But the Navy has rules about coffee mugs even. You can NOT wash a coffee mug, less Neptune will claim your ship to the briny deep. In fact, I have had the displeasure of sitting in on a Captain’s Mast where a sailor was demoted for (you can’t make this stuff up) “Willfully and maliciously scrubbing a chief’s coffee mug clean” out of anger. That is some serious stuff there.
  • The Army is no better though. A friend recently returned from Afghanistan and was relaying a story where he was afraid to go out on a patrol. Not because of an increased threat potential or the location of the patrol, but because his patrol cap was accidentally washed when left in a cargo pocket. Washed patrol covers, it seems, are how a soldier ensures they will meet an ill fate.
  • CharmsIn an MRE, often times they have Charms® candies. Everyone loves a bit of candy after a “nutritious” meal. Marines know, however, that eating one, especially the green ones it seems, will bring the wrath of weather upon you. Pop one in to satisfy that sweet tooth while on a patrol and the rain will come down in buckets. At least, until you step back inside. It is even reported that Marines have thrown these candies at enemies in the middle of firefights.
  • The Air Force, despite being the youngest branch, has many superstitions of its own, with the display of an amulet being the most common. There is no hard and fast rule about what type of material or design it should display, but there are extra points if there are numbers that add up to 13. By wearing one of these, the wind will remain under your wings and make for a clean opening chute.
  • For the Coast Guard, we will go with two of them as they are a bit harder to find ones that don’t flow with the Navy’s, as sailors are sailors. To bring good luck and ensure King Neptune will grant you safe passage, it is wise to throw a few coins into the sea before the start of your voyage. How could one ever have poor luck if you paid of the god of the sea? And whistling on a vessel, especially in the pilot house, will bring the wrath of the sea upon you and place your soon-to-be-doomed ship in the middle of a squall.
  • With all the superstitions service members have, it is no surprise that even the spouses have superstitions to keep their warriors safe while away from home. Not washing a deployed member’s clothing left in the hamper will ensure they return home safe, as there is laundry for them to do. Another piece of good luck is to wear their extra pair of dog tags while they are away. It is said that being so close to the heart of the one you love, no bad can happen.

No matter what your quirks and superstitions are, stay true to them and pass them on to the next generation. Who knows, they could save a life. And please, if you have any superstitions to share, pass them along in the comments section.

Seth Belt

Seth Belt

Seth grew up in Southern Arizona before joining the U.S. Navy. While serving in the Navy, Seth was an anti-narcotics operator and an anti-submarine operator for 5 years. He was lucky enough to travel to many of the Central and South American countries, as well as visiting many South East Asian nations and islands. One of Seth’s greatest joys from his time in the Navy was teaching new Sailors firearms education and safety. After leaving the Navy in 2010, Seth returned to Arizona and had a rough time learning how to be a civilian again, often working jobs that could barely pay the bills. After going to school, Seth became an Emergency Medical Technician in the Phoenix Valley, where he now lives with his wife and son.His areas of knowledge cover military, firearms, and emergency medicine.
Seth Belt
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8 thoughts on “Military Superstitions

  1. This article highlighted one the ways GI’s while away long, hard or scary hours during deployments. After all, the majority of them are young, stressed and needing of diversion – even if only for a moment It was true in my day, my grandfathers’ days and my nephews…

  2. Infantry (dont know if its branch specific) will literally beat their own brothers who speak the r-word while out on patrol/in field. I didn’t believe it for myself until the squad destroyed a Marines shins after he spoke of it and surprise surprise, the sky began to fall.

    1. I wish I could remember the quote from Eric Haney, a founding member of Delta Force, about how he feels bad for those who don’t know the joy of feeling the cool rain.

  3. The Navy coffee mug thing is real. One of the first things you do when you get to a ship is buy a ships mug and ball cap. You never wash it. But there is an ancillary reason. As the mug gets darker and darker stained it’s easy to recognize who has been on the ship how long. Lifers (Career Sailors), will sometimes use old mugs from 10, 15 or 20 years ago, thank God I’m done with that. Yuck!

  4. Charms have been in US military rations since WW2. It seems that they just became bad luck since the War on Terrorism began. Trust jarheads to ruin a 70+ year military tradition by blaming weather and enemy action on something in an MRE.

    1. I joined the Corps in 1997; I’m now retired. The Charms superstition already was in effect when I was in Boot Camp…and while in the Fleet Marine Forces. I can also validate that it did rain when a Boot ate one it seemed to rain. lol

  5. I joined the Corps in 1997; I’m now retired. The Charms superstition already was in effect when I was in Boot Camp…and while in the Fleet Marine Forces. I can also validate that it did rain when a Boot ate one it seemed to rain. lol

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