The Marine Reconnaissance (Recon) paddle holds a special place in the hearts of many service members. What originated as a Marine’s most essential tool during the World War II Marine Raider Battalions became a symbol of heroism and camaraderie synonymous with the United States Marine Corps.
A reconnaissance Marine’s paddle accompanied him through his training and into battle, becoming, says the Marine Corps’ official website, “worn and scarred as the Marine does throughout the process of training.”
And although today’s reconnaissance Marines are issued ropes instead of paddles, the customized Marine Recon paddle remains a significant tradition to all those who serve in the Marines.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Marine Recon paddle.
The History of the Marine Recon Paddle
During WWII, the Raiders conducted clandestine operations like facilitating amphibious warfare, securing beach heads, and improving land navigation, according to the Special Operations Forces Report. Because they had to be stealthy, the Marines relied on their paddles to sail their way behind enemy lines.
Eventually, the Marine, his rifle, and his paddle became a single, unified force with the ability to overcome any obstacle and defeat all enemies. When a Marine left active duty or was killed in action, his boatmates would contribute to refurbishing his paddle by sanding, polishing, and decorating it with unit symbols, quotes, and messages.
The Marine Recon paddle thus acted as a way to commemorate the Marine’s grit and blood.
The paddle was then presented to the Marine at a paddle party, during which his fellow Marines celebrated his heroic deeds and took turns sharing his most gallant – and not-so-gallant – moments. As this unique breed of Americans relished their special bond, the paddle was finally handed over to the Marine or his loved ones.
The Meaning Behind the Marine Recon Paddle
Every single detail of a Marine Recon paddle carries significance. First, the paddle itself represents the reconnaissance Marine’s amphibiousness, while the parachute cord wrapped around it represents his airborne capabilities.
When it comes to symbols and colors, the Marine’s boatmates will choose those that best reflect his most notable achievements, the units in which the Marine has served, and his individual tastes.
Finally, the engraved messages and quotes serve as a way to preserve the Marine’s legacy and celebrate the bond between boatmates. The lengthy process of making and dedicating the paddle symbolizes the strenuous mission of becoming a Marine; every paddle is as unique as the Marine who carried it.
Rumor Has It…
During WWII, a Marine selected to become a Raider was issued a paddle. The paddle served the Marine during his tenure on the team but remained government property. If he was transferred or retired, the Marine was required to return his paddle to the supply room.
Rumor has it that boatmates would sneak into the supply room to steal that same paddle, which they would then decorate and personalize to be dedicated to the exceptional Marine. To this day, the United States Marine Corps has never officially accepted or rejected these claims.
Navy Paddles exists to honor achievements and mark milestones through superior paddles. Because we’ve been there and done that, we know how important paddles are to our fellow veterans and service members.
Our team is inspired daily by the stories engraved in each paddle, and we want to help mark your legacy. Because everything is hand made by our company, we’re proud to say that we take special care with every piece to create the highest-quality everlasting memorabilia.
To see our selection of Marine Recon paddles and other custom military memorabilia, visit our online store or follow us on Instagram.
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