Every Marine is, first and foremost, a rifleman. In boot camp at Parris Island and San Diego, and at The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, all Marines, enlisted and officer, receive instruction in proper rifle usage and maintenance. Additionally, all Marines must memorize the "Rifleman's Creed," which was created in 1942 by Marine Brigadier General William H. Rupertus, the then-Commanding General of Marine Corps Base San Diego, after he (Rupertus) had decided that his men must be made to understand, "...that the only weapon which stands between them and Death is the rifle...they must understand that their rifle is their life...it must become a creed with them."
Captain Robert P. White, Public Relations Officer of the base, suggested that Rupertus write an editorial to that effect but the general thought that an editorial would sound like a sermon. Instead, Rupertus felt that the rifle creed should be "...something so deep, a conviction so great, a faith so lasting that no one should have to be preached to about it."
This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will...
My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...
My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...
Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!
by Major General William H. Rupertus (USMC, Retired)
(written following the attack on Pearl Harbor)