What is a Devil Dog?
The Marine Corps League, formed in 1923 by members of what had been the Marine Corps Veterans Association assimilated more than 40 existing Marine oriented organizations that sprang up following the end of World War I. Comprised largely of veterans of the fierce fighting between the Fifth and Sixth Marine Regiments and the Germans, these returning veterans of the Great War (“the war to end all wars”) were called “Teufelhunde” by their German adversaries, literally meaning “Dogs of the Devil,” or as we now know, DEVIL DOGS. Legend has it that, because our Marines were so under-supplied during the battle of Belleau Wood; that, when they engaged the Germans in hand-to-hand combat, they bit them!
These battle-hardened Marines who, for all time, earned for ensuing generations the title “Devil Dog”, coined years ago on 6 June 1918, were a part of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) commanded by General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing. They had set sail on 14 June 1917 under orders from Major General Commandant George Barnett as a “Force in Readiness.” At the time, the total strength of the Marine Corps, worldwide, stood at 511 officers and 13,214 enlisted men. At the end of the battle for Belleau Wood, 1,062 Marines lay dead. The French
General commanding the Sixth Army ordered that Belleau Wood (Bois de Belleau) be henceforth known as “Bois de la Brigade de Marine.” Seven Marines would ultimately be awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during World War I.
Following the establishment of the Marine Corps League, the leadership of the League decided that the delegates assembling in convention needed some time during their serious deliberations to “blow off steam.” As a result, the Military Order of the Devil Dogs was organized and created in 1939, in Boston, MA and granted a charter as a subsidiary organization of the Marine Corps League on 19 March 1940. From those early years, the Military Order of the Devil Dogs (the Order) has grown to strength of over 6,000 members.
The Order is organized in nearly every state where there is a Marine Corps League presence. Now in its 66th year, the Order boasts a semi-permanent headquarters in Michigan, a full-time Kennel Dog Robber, National Executive Secretary and Bookkeeper.
The Order, the FUN and HONOR SOCIETY of the Marine Corps League, is comprised of only regular members in good standing of the League who have been
recommended for membership by two members of the Order. Each member undergoes a series of initiations. First, as a Pup, in their Pound (the
local organization, the basis of the Order); then, as a Devil Dog in their Pack (the State organization which meets during a Department Convention); and, finally, as a Pedigreed Devil Dog at the SUPREME GROWL held in conjunction with the National Convention of the League.