Dogface (military)

"Dogfaces" of the 172nd Infantry Regiment patrolling New Georgia, 1943

Dogface is a nickname for a United States Army soldier, especially an enlisted infantryman.[1][2] The term gained widespread use during World War II.[3][4]


The term "dogface" to describe an American soldier appeared in print at least as early as 1935.[5][6] Though its precise origin is uncertain, contemporaneous newspapers accounted for the nickname by explaining that soldiers "wear dog-tags, sleep in pup tents, and are always growling about something" and "the army is a dog's life . . . and when they want us, they whistle for us."[7][8]

During World War II, the nickname came to be seen as a self-appointed term of endearment for soldiers,[9] but as an insult if used by others, such as United States Marine Corps personnel.[6][10][11][12]

In media

In 1942, Bert Gold and Ken Hart, two members of the United States Army Air Forces, published a song called "The Dogface Soldier," which one newspaper called an "authentic foxhole folksong."[13] The song became the theme of the 3rd Infantry Division and was featured in the 1955 film To Hell and Back starring Audie Murphy, who served in the 3rd Division.[14] A recording of the song by Russ Morgan, taken from the film, became a No. 30 pop hit in the U.S. the same year.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Ruane, Michael E. (December 21, 2021). "Another Side of the 'Greatest Generation'". The Santa Fe New Mexican. p. B4.
  2. ^ Sexton, Donald J. (2009). The Western European and Mediterranean Theaters in World War II. New York: Routledge. p. 432. ISBN 978-0-415-95769-4.
  3. ^ Mitgang, Herbert (2004). Newsmen in Khaki: Tales of a World War II Soldier Correspondent. Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 100. ISBN 1-58979-094-4.
  4. ^ Siegel, Alice; McLoone, Margo (1992). The Information Please Kids' Almanac!. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. p. 300. ISBN 0-395-64737-1.
  5. ^ Mickel, Merlin (July 21, 1935). "Army's a Trade, Reporter Finds". The Des Moines Register. p. 11.
  6. ^ a b "Service Humor". Army Navy Journal. November 9, 1935. p. 8.
  7. ^ "What 'Outfit' Means". The Bangor Daily News. November 16, 1940. p. 10.
  8. ^ "Yanks from the Camps". The Gazette. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. February 20, 1944. p. 8.
  9. ^ "If You Know English Then Try Your Hand at Telling the Boys What a 'Kiwi' and a 'Dodo' Do in the Army". The Albuquerque Tribune. September 12, 1941. p. 4. Dogface—an enlisted man's name for himself, an insult if used by others.
  10. ^ Middleton, Drew (October 2, 1941). "U.S. Armed Forces Land in Iceland". The Knoxville Journal. The Associated Press. p. 11. But the American Marines—who call the soldiers 'dogfaces' and bark at them when they go to post—stood aloof except for parties detailed to explain the docking facilities to the Army.
  11. ^ Buchwald, Art (February 17, 1962). "Marines Stupid? Gung Ho Ho Ho!". Los Angeles Times. p. 11.
  12. ^ Leckie, Robert (2010). Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific. New York: Bantam Books. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-553-59331-0. I was a marine. Automatically this seemed to raise me above the plodding herd of servicemen. I would speak disparagingly of soldiers as 'dog-faces' and sailors as 'swab-jockeys.'
  13. ^ "The Third Division's Song". The Cincinnati Post. July 22, 1949. p. 17.
  14. ^ Jeffers, H. Paul (2008). Command of Honor: General Lucian Truscott's Path to Victory in World War II. New York: NAL Caliber. p. 147. ISBN 978-0-451-22402-6.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2010). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits (9 ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 454. ISBN 978-0-8230-8554-5.
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