More funny military sayings for your speech

Military service is serious business. Perhaps that's why folks in the military share a unique sense of humor. On this page, we'll look at some funny sayings and inside jokes inspired by the camaraderie and trust necessary for any unit to succeed.

If you are speaking at a gathering of veterans and active duty members, you might want to use a couple of these classic funny military sayings in your speech.  Afterall, humor is one of the best ways to remember tough times and shared experiences.

Funny phrases common to military service. . .  and a guide for the rest of us

15 minutes prior to 15 minutes prior, Standby to Standby   or Hurry Up and Wait

Time waits for no man. And especially is that true in the military.

Military people learn to show up early for everything (especially an official formation). 15 minutes early is the sweet spot. You are expected to arrive 15 minutes earlier than the person in the next higher rank. That means if the captain wants everyone there at 0600, the master sergeant wants his soldiers to arrive at 0545. The humor comes with the expectation that the privates at the bottom of the ranking order have to be there at midnight.  

Standby to standby and hurry up and wait  are other expressions that reflect the military's obsession with punctuality and readiness. Like Get Ready to Get Ready, the military elevates advance preparation to an art form.

Hurry up and wait also means respond to an order quickly so you'll have plenty of time to wait for the next order.  

In the Drink -- A Coast Guard term for in the water or a plane landing in the water.

Jarhead -- A nickname for Marines which originated in World War II. The Marines got the name Leathernecks  because of their high uniform collars originally made of leather. But later, people latched on to Jarhead  because a Marine wearing that collar resembled a head sticking out of a jar.  The term can also refer to their haircut.

Hit the Silk -- a phrase that means using your parachute.

Birth-control glasses -- Military eyeglasses are designed to be functional; style and personal appearance are not relevant. If you're wearing your military glasses, your ability to attract members of the opposite sex drops precipitously. 

Check Your Six -- An Air Force term that basically means look behind you. On training flights or combat, it means to check for missiles or enemy aircraft to the rear of the plane in the 6 o'clock position.  In social settings, Check Your Six is a subtle way to let someone know they should check out a person behind them.   

Double-digit midget -- Service members who will be discharged or retire in fewer than 100 days are considered "short" or "double-digit midgets". They have 99 or fewer days to serve. If you are giving a retirement speech, you are definitely a double-digit midget.

Gear adrift is a gift -- If you have lost something or left it behind and it disappeared, you've basically given a gift to someone else. And somebody else's gain is your loss.  

Good initiative, bad judgement -- This is a variation of the phrase No Good Deed Goes Unpunished. If someone takes the initiative to help or provide a solution that doesn't solve the problem, that person has committed good initiative but bad judgment.  The phrase also applies when someone tries to solve a problem that is above their pay grade, infringing on the turf of a superior.

Locked and loaded  -- Originally the term applied to firearms but has come into more general use to mean prepared, focused and ready to go.

Voluntold -- An order that instructs someone to "voluntarily" do something.  It might be a direct suggestion from a superior or a more oblique statement such as, "The outside sure would look better if these windows were washed."

laughing soldier dividing line

Phrases associated with branches of service


  • If it's stupid but it works, then it isn't stupid.
  • Two things are infinite: the universe and the number of times you have to mop the same spot in the Army.


  • Never shoot the backup plan.
  • There are more planes in the ocean than submarines in the sky.


  • If you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn't plan your mission properly.
  • If you ever get into a real fire fight, find the nearest Marine and give him your ammo.

Coast Guard

  • You have to go out but you don't have to come back.
  • When in deep water, become a submarine.

The Marine Corps is a department of the Navy: the men's department.

My time in uniform is over but being a Marine never ends.

Some sayings on this page also appear
on these websites:

Army guys - weapon made by lowest bidderSource: Image by angelmartine09 from Pixabay

Sibling rivalries among different branches of service

One day an airman, an Army soldier, and a Marine were talking about the hardships they faced during their last deployment.

Airman: “The worst was when the air conditioner broke in our tent and it was 110 degrees outside!”
Soldier: “No way, you guys had air conditioners?!”
Marine: “Wait, stop. You had tents?”

Army guy with gun and dog

Army life is like a hurricane.
Everything around you is falling apart but you're just fine.

What does the word Army stand for? -- Aren't Ready for Marines Yet.

laughing soldier dividing line

What are the five most dangerous comment you can hear?

  • A military private saying, “I learned this in boot camp. . . "
  • A military second lieutenant saying, “Based on my experience. . . "
  • A military captain saying, “I was just thinking. . . "
  • A military warrant officer saying, “Okay now watch this . . . "

Different commands mean different things in the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines. For example, tell them to secure a building and here is what they will do: 

  • The Army will post guards around the building.
  • The Navy will turn out the lights and lock all the doors.
  • The Marines will kill everyone inside and then set up headquarters.
  • The Air Force will take out a five-year lease with an option to buy at the end.

How many pilots does it take to screw in a light bulb?
     Only one.  He holds the bulb and the universe revolves around him to screw it in.

laughing soldier dividing line

A general gets stuck in his Jeep on the side of the road. All of a sudden, a lieutenant pulls up, hops out, and asks,  “Is your car stuck, sir?”

The general climbs out, hands his keys over, and slides into the lieutenant’s car. Then says, "Mine's not, but yours is." 

Remember, a touch of humor can add interest to a military retirement speech.

So if you have been voluntold to speak at a military retirement party, congratulate the double-digit midget. Wish them well and tell them that you hope they are locked and loaded . . . and ready to retire.