Understanding the Battles Cries of the U.S. Armed Forces: Hooah, Oorah, and Hooyah
In other words, the answer to the common question, “is it Hooah , Oohrah, or Hooyah” is that it is dependent on if you are talking about Army, Marines, Seals, or Coast Guard.
From my research, it seems the following battle cries are used by the following divisions of the military:
- U.S. Army Call: Hooah!
- U.S. Marine Call: Oohrah!
- U.S. SEALs: Hooyah!
- On one hand the calls generally mean something to effect of “charge.” Specifically Oohrah is said to mean this. More broadly they are ambiguous terms that mean different things in different contexts (specifically the Army’s Hooah cry works like this; it can be used as a placeholder for almost anything, thus it goes far beyond just being a “battle cry”).
- The Air Force doesn’t have an official battle cry, although they seem to use the Army’s Hooah cry (NOTE: according to a reader it is actually “hua;” more insight is appreciated on this one).
- The Navy in general doesn’t seem to have an official battle cry, but parts of the Navy use the SEAL’s Hooyah cry.
- I couldn’t pin down exactly which battle cry the Coast Guard uses. If anyone knows for sure, or thinks they know, comment below!
- “Hoorah” or “Hoo Rah” is somewhere in-between a mistranslation of the U.S. Marine battle call and an alternative spelling.
- “Huzzah” is something people say at Renaissance Festivals while eating turkey legs and drinking meed.
- “Hooray” or “Hurrah” is what all types of people say to express joy in the West.
- “Ura” (speed different ways) is a Russian battle cry used in the Soviet era and earlier.
- All of this likely arises from the Turkish battle cry “Ur Ah” which means something like “come on, hit!” Although the roots of the Marnie cry are pretty specific and more modern, see below.
The origin of Oohrah: According to marines.mil, “Marines and historians have determined the true origins of “Oorah” lie with recon Marines stationed in Korea in 1953. During this time, reconnaissance Marines in the 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Co., found themselves traveling via submarine to where they were needed. The memorable call of “dive, dive!” would be called on the intercom and a klaxon alarm, which made a very distinct “Aarugha” sound, would announce the descent of the sub below water. The recon Marines, who heard this sound often, started using it as a motivational tool during runs and physical training. Over time, the word “Aarugha” came to be too much of a mouthful, and eventually molded itself into the familiar “Oorah,” according to Maj. Gary Marte, a retired Marine.” Learn more about the meaning of ‘Oorah’ from marines.mil. See an alternative take from the Balance: Origins Of – HOOAH – In The U.S. Military.
FACT: The Air Force was originally part of the army. This could help explain why both branches use the same war cry. See History of the United States Air Force.
What is “Hooah”?
OOH-RAH – Whooo.wmv
What is the Point of a Battle Cry?
Generally speaking, the purpose of a battle cry is two fold, on one hand it is to boost morale, motivate, and build solidarity, on the other it is to intimidate the enemy. However, specifically Hooah, Oorah, and Hooyah are used as greetings or for the first purpose in modern times.
Learn more about battle cries.