Oorah is a battle cry common in the United States Marine Corps since the mid-20th century. It is comparable to hooah in the US Army and hooyah in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. It is most commonly used to respond to a verbal greeting or as an expression of enthusiasm.
There are several potential sources from which the word "oorah" originated.
- The term may have originated from early use in Australia. In WWII injured US Marines were treated in northern Australia. The term 'oorah' is local slang for 'farewell' or 'until then'.
- The 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company, FMFPAC can be credited with the introduction of "Ooh-rah!" into the Marine Corps in 1953, shortly after the Korean War. Recon Marines served aboard the USS Perch (ASSP-313), a WWII-era diesel submarine retrofitted to carry Navy UDT and Recon Marines. Whenever the boat was to dive, the 1MC (PA system) would announce "DIVE! DIVE!", followed by the sound of the diving klaxon: "AHUGA!" In 1953 or 1954, while on a conditioning run, former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John R. Massaro, while serving as company Gunnery Sergeant of 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion, simulated the "Dive" horn sound "AHUGA!" as part of the cadence. Legend has it, he took it with him when he went to serve as an instructor at the Drill Instructor school at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. He there passed it on to the Drill Instructor students and they, in turn, passed it on to their recruits where it eventually and naturally became a part of the Recon cadence, and thereafter infiltrated Recon Marine lexicon. Over time, "AHUGA!" morphed into the shorter, simpler "Oorah!" Today, the official Marine Corps Training Reference Manual on the history of Marine Recon is titled "AHUGA!"
- The term may have been derived from the Ottoman Turkish phrase "vur ha" translated as "strike" or the Mongolian word "urakh" meaning "forward" (Mongolian and Turkish are both Turkic languages). It was used as a battle cry of the Ottoman Empire army and adapted as a Russian battle cry "ura".
"Oorah" was originally a Comanche war-cry that meant "All-right" or "Let's go!" in the Comanche Language.
Owing to its relatively recent adoption by Anglo-American military culture, it is less common for Marines who served in the Vietnam War or earlier to be familiar with "Oorah!", but most post-Vietnam Marines and Vietnam War Marines who continued to serve after the war will have learned it throughout their careers.
A couple of shortened versions of "Oorah!" can come out as a short, sharp, monosyllabic guttural "Er!" or "Rah!"
- "Oorah" is also used by United States Navy Hospital Corpsman, Master-At-Arms and Seabees because of their close association with the Marine Corps.