For decades, infantry soldiers in the US Army and Marine Corps have been called “grunts,” wearing the moniker like a badge of honor. Grunts are the soldiers on the frontlines, the toughest and bravest fighters the country has. However, exactly where the term comes from has consistently been up for debate.
The difference between grunts and POGs
Infantry, of course, is essential to the success of any platoon, but there are other important members of the military who help in operations as well. They are sometimes referred to as POGs – or “People Other Than Grunts.” POGs typically perform jobs as motor transport operators, guards or security contractors, and also take on administrative roles.
POGs and grunts need each other to function properly.
A term of endearment
The term “grunt” is delivered in a very softhearted way. When asked to define the term, Marine Major H.G. Duncan explained it’s “a term of affection used to denote that filthy, sweaty, dirt-encrusted, footsore, camouflage-painted, tired, sleepy, beautiful little son of a b***h who has kept the wolf away from the door for over two hundred years.”
Origins during the Vietnam War?
There are two schools of thought regarding the origin of the term “grunt.” One states there was a friendly rivalry in Vietnam between the troops who were in the jungle all day and those who stayed behind in air-conditioned buildings, working on logistics.
As the story goes, the POGs wanted to come up with a nickname for their rivals, and one decided on “grunt.” According to legend, however, the soldiers weren’t offended by the nickname, and were instead proud of the connotation. It’s stuck ever since.
World War II origins?
Others believe the term was coined during the Second World War. Thanks to the participation of the world’s powers and tremendous advances in technology, the death count of the conflict was incredibly high. As such, new soldiers were frequently being sent overseas.
During battles, the newest troops would be placed on the frontlines while the more experienced soldiers would be in the back of the line. According to this legend, “grunt” is an acronym, meaning “General Replacement Unit, Not Trained.”