11 Things First Sergeants Say That Make Troops Lose Their Minds

armyfirstsgt copy

armyfirstsgt copy


Army and Marine first sergeants have to talk a lot, considering their duties as company-level senior enlisted leaders. While they primarily act as advisors to company commanders and deal with administrative issues, they sometimes say things that drive troops crazy.

1. “It would behoove you …”

Often used by first sergeants to tell troops that it would be a good idea to do something — “it would behoove you to wear your eye-pro on the range” — it’s often overused and mispronounced as “bee-who-of-you.”

2. “Hey there, gents”

Short for gentlemen, first sergeants sometimes refer to their troops as gents. Of course, this is totally fine and not a big deal, except when you are called a gent all of the time.

3. “Utilize”

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, “utilize” means to use. So stop making a word choice so complicated and just freaking say use.

4. “All this and a paycheck too!”

In the Army and Marine Corps, you get to work out, shoot stuff, and blow things up, and you get paid for it. It’s often pretty fun — who doesn’t love explosives?! — but the “all this and a paycheck too!” comment from the first sergeant doesn’t usually come at these moments. It comes at halfway point of a 20-mile hike when you are sucking wind and hoping for death.

Also, you make way more than everyone else here. And is that a pillow in your rucksack?

5. “If you’re gonna drive, don’t drink. If you’re gonna drink, don’t drive.”

Just one of the many things first sergeant mentions in his lengthy talk before allowing the company to leave for the weekend, “if you’re gonna drive, don’t drink” is solid advice that should be followed. But it’s also part of a boring brief that he repeats word-for-word EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK.

Other phrases troops may hear during the libo brief include, “If you’re gonna tap it, wrap it,” and “take care of each other out there.” In first sergeant’s defense, he’s required to give this brief to cover his own butt, in addition to it being a hopeless attempt at avoiding the inevitable 3am phone call to come on Saturday.


6. “The first sergeant”

When you pick up staff non-commissioned officer in the Army or Marine Corps, they must take you in a room and tell you that you can start talking in the third-person, because it happens a lot. Hearing about what “the first sergeant” would do, as opposed to what “I” would do is eye-roll worthy.

“The first sergeant would make sure to let his battle buddy know.”

7. “Good to go? / Hooah?”

First sergeants like to use common catchphrases to make sure their troops understand. While a “good to go?” makes sense to gauge whether troops are listening, when it comes after every sentence in the liberty brief, it can get old very quick. For Army first sergeants and others, it’s pretty common to use the motivational “hooah” in a questioning manner. Hooah?

8. “We got a lot of moving parts here.”

Let’s not get wrapped around the axle here, gents. We’ve got battalion formation in the A.M., the general is coming in, so we need to be there at 0400, good to go? We got a lot of moving parts here, so let’s try to all stay on the same page, good to go?

9. “Give me three bodies!”

If you ever need a great example of language that makes you feel like you are just a number in the military, look no further than someone asking “for bodies.” What first sergeant means here is that he needs three motivated U.S. Marines to carry out a working party.

“Just get my goddamn bodies, turd.”

“Roger, first sergeant.”

10. “You trackin’?”

Often used just like “good to go?” or “Hooah?” the phrase “you trackin’?” is first sergeant’s other way of making sure we all understand. We’re all looking in your direction, listening to the words you are saying, tracking along just fine.

11. “Got any saved rounds?”

Last but certainly not least is the phrase “got any saved rounds?” which is a way of asking if anyone has anything to add. This one usually comes at the end of long meetings and should be followed by complete silence, so we can get out of this godforsaken room.

Inevitably, Carl over there is going to say something.

So, got any saved rounds? Any phrases we missed? Let us know in the comments.

profilePaul SzoldraExecutive Editor at We Are The Mighty

Paul served eight years as a Marine Corps infantryman in Japan, Korea, Afghanistan, and many others. He founded the military satire site Duffel Blog, and previously served as the West Coast Editor for Business Insider.


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  • BobSacamano

    “I need some volunteers.” Which meant I needed to find something to hide behind!

    • Guest

      In the old Corp it was I need 3 volunteers, you, you, and you, you just volunteered.

    • Aok

      How about ” I will F Up your weekend troop”
      It’s mind over matter and you don’t matter.
      The best part of you ran down your mamas leg.

  • gunnartheviking

    Roger that! Hooay,

  • gunnartheviking

    Pop smoke and draw fire! = (get out here now!)

    • Sarga

      Why did they say this?

  • mkantzler

    Speaking of First Sergeants, Hollywood has an Army First Sergeant in one of the network series, ABC I think, “American Crime,” who is a woman, looks to be about 32 years of age, tops, coming home to marry her fellow unit sergeant of a lower grade.

    Does the Army really have any 32-year-old First Sergeants who weren’t busted from commissioned ranks? I’m USAF and never saw any near that young there.

    • MJJ

      what can I say… that’s Hollywood

    • Michael Yates

      Well Air Force, years ago SSgts were allowed to be First Sgts in small units. I wore the diamond as a SSgt, TSgt and MSgt. I was 25 when I got my first tour as a First Sgt. And that was in 1970.

      • mkantzler

        This show’s gal is Army, six stripes and the diamond. I didn’t know 1st Sgt was less than six stripes–don’t think they are in the Army or Marines. But now, USAF has some 7 and 8 stripe grades I’ve seen they didn’t have when I was in. Have to Google that.

    • Nevinator

      Yep, I pinned on my 1SG stripes with 14 yrs, 1 month of service. At the time I was 32 years old.

    • David

      I know when I was in during Vietnam there were some fairly young First Shirts but it’s always easier to make rank during war time.

  • Shawn McFadden

    Hooah got used so many times I got sick of it. Often abused more by Officers.

    • SGTBJH

      A fellow NCO friend of mine asked me what people meant by Hooah. I told him I spelt it HUA. Because people who used it all the time were clueless or afraid to ask questions about the task they were going to do. HUA means Head Up Ass!

      • SFCJeff

        Huh. I thought I was the only one who had come up with the HUA version. My unit had a 1SG that was clocked at 120 Hua’s in one formation once…

  • jim devine

    don’t sir me, I work for a God D– living

    • R May

      Or the ever popular “Don’t f**king call me sir, I work for a f**king living.” LOL

      • ETCM(SS) P

        Also: Don’t Sir me! My parents were married!

      • David

        Exactly! If I had a dollar for ever time I heard THAT one…!

  • Jeff

    “Lemme see a North/South”. Right up there with “You trackin’?”.

  • Stoney


  • JR

    Diamonds are trump

  • walt

    If those phrases make them lose their mind,they must be really weak

  • Israel

    Get your head out of your forth point of contact trooper, hooah

    • Glenn

      The way the “Black Hats” said it was, “remove your cranium from your fourth point of contact…”

  • Sgt Heart

    I never met a FS I didn’t like.

  • Frank Patrick Kelly

    I served in the Army for 23 years and never once heard the term hooah. I retired in 1974. must be past my time.

    • rgsessions

      After retiring in 1995 with 22 years in the Army the only saying I ever heard from the list was number 9. There are many more sayings that weren’t listed but I guess they were from days gone by and not from todays military.

    • Dan

      I got tired of hearing hooah in 99. I enlisted in 99.

    • rickb54

      I retired in 1986.. I don’t remember hearing one of these terms.

    • John Magee

      That’s because it’s a Marine term.

      • SFCJeff

        Marines: Hoo-Rah
        Army: Hooah

  • Jimmy Cooper

    How about “Are we good to go?”

    • RIchard K. Crawford

      Is this CSM Cooper?????

  • BobSacamano

    “No need to salute trooper, I’ll be in the area all day.”

  • Daniel Soto

    Hurry Up and Wait, Private Joe Blow

    • bwelch(airbrone)

      “””Hey what about this one…Their will no passes this Weekend.
      We have to get the motor pool ready, for inspection next week….

  • David

    Don’t get wrapped around the axle !

  • Steve Pennington

    Was a 1st Sgt. for 5 years. It was the job I was born to do. Great unit with fine officers and NCOs. The troops worked hard and learned fast. Got promoted out of the job and into a Maint. Sup. position. Was not nearly as rewarding.

    • John D

      Filled in as 1StSgt for 60 days and swore I’d never go there again. It takes a certain breed and it certainly wasn’t me. Baby sitting shouldn’t be a duty of the Shirt. Never diapered my own children but had to diaper troops….B S!!.

  • Recondo33

    As a hardcore First Sergeant to 165 soldiers for 5 years, I must say that my most popular saying was “EYES ON ME” and I assure you…..330 eyes were nowhere but…..on me!!!

    • dave

      recondo33 was it na trang or some place? recondo1019 april 68

  • Buckneccid

    “You three men, half of you come with me”

  • Harry

    My First Shirt at Ft. WeGotcha called on volunteers the right way. He would say “I need three volunteers”, wait 2 two seconds and then raise one index finger, make a jabbing/pointing gesture and say “you, you and you”. It worked every time.

  • Chief4JAS

    “Get your head out of your duffle bag”.

    • Michael

      Among other places they thought was anatomically possible !

  • RetMP1SG

    Probably used it to much but “trooper, you’re head space and timing needs adjustment” when dealing with a soldier who just didn’t get a task or order. In addition, I was just told by a few of my former soldiers that another one they heard me use on more than one occasion was, “don’t confuse your impertinence with my position” when questioning an NCO’s order and receiving on the spot “counseling” from me, the 1SG.

  • BobSacamano

    “Bring it in, we’re gonna conduct a five minute block of instruction!”

  • 1SG Wilson (ret)

    I enjoyed being a 1SG! The best job of my life. The dreaded “Hey-You” Roster! Didn’t need to threaten anyone except for every Friday afternoon prior to releasing the troops for the weekend! After the requisite safety briefing, I would let them know that if they were out and in no condition to drive to call me and I’d pick them up and get them home safe. I also let them know in advance, that I would NOT be a happy camper, but I would gladly get them home safe. Throughout my years, I did have a good number of troops call for a ride home. I did it, but they were on the pick-up hey-you roster for the following weekend!

  • BTCM M

    These are all good examples of what gets said by senior enlisted, I guess they had to use 1SG jargon because the Navy Chief, Senior Chief and Master Chief jargon was similar, just a lot more colorful and graphic, way more graphic.

  • 1SGT Harry R.Kildow

    I was a First Sergeant in the biggest Maintenance Facility (Camp Carroll) in South Korea. I took care of my soldiers when they deserved it and had the good feeling to put two soldiers in the Eighth Army stockade when they had it coming. I extended my tour by two months when the IG inspection was coming up and afterwards was told that that IG inspection results were the best that company had received in many years. I did not want to drop an IG inspection on my replacement. Good First Sergeants are worth their weight in gold, just ask any Company Commander who had a good company tour and went on to make Major because of his First Sergeant’s performance.

    • Larry Thomas

      Harry ? It’s Larry. Your 11B Training NCO during that tour, and since a retired 1SG myself. The replies here are great. The world is indeed small.

  • raffypuddin

    One of my favorites was: it’s mind over matter, folks. I don’t mind and you don’t matter.

  • Mauney

    I don’t think a Marine would say “Roger, First Sergeant”. He would be more likely say “Yes, TOP”.

  • SkySgt

    “Are you sure this is the hill you wanna die on?” This question was always asked by my first 1st Sgt in the Air Force, when you gave him an explanation for something that he knew was false. This was his way of giving you another chance to get the situation squared away with the least amount of pain. He musta been a grunt in a previous life!

  • Sgt Mike

    Try turning down what your 1st Sgt volunteered you for just to see his reaction at first then politely ask him if it is voluntary and you prefer not to volunteer if it is really voluntary. Mines reaction was incredible in that he paid me to go to a voluntary training program. When at the program briefing the colonel in charge asked anyone who didn’t wish to participate to leave which is what I did. When word got back to my 1st Sgt and he called me in he ran through a lot of unprintable language then paid for new uniforms for me so I would agree to attend.

  • SFC B


  • skip7212

    When we had to get in line for whatever: Alright, nut to butt-NUT TO BUTT!!

  • Bilzilla

    Numb Nuts & attitude adjustment & head on a swivel & smoke em if you got , if you ain’t get em from ….& you’re a waste of space d-head.

  • Don

    “Let’s not pop the red star cluster” LOL

  • Rod Palmer

    Had a 1SG at Camp Casey, Korea who when he wanted to repeat something he thought was important would say, “let me reiterate, again.” I had a buddy who would always respond (only loud enough for a few of us to hear) with “how redundant.”

  • Bill

    “True story back in 1957 in Germany we had a first sergeant we loved. Why? Well the Company Commander was a dickhead and every morning when we would fall out for roll call it would go like this.
    Each Squad leader would call out, loud and clear. “All men present and accounted for, SIR!
    Then the Platoon leaders would call out “All men present and accounted for SIR!! This would be
    shouted out and with a snappy salute. The First Sergeant, bless his soul, would do a snappy about face and say real quickly “Sir, all men are present and accounted for, SIR! But he would actually say it so quickly that what he actually said was “Sir, all the men are present and have mounted your wife, SIR!
    The Captain would return the salute and say “Thank you First Sergeant”.

  • l/cpl frank graves

    my favorite was the i st Sgt saying to us at noon formation for radio relay , camp Pendelton ” the moral in this company SUCKS …..it will improve ! …..that’s a DIRECT ORDER”

  • toby

    Your a soup sammich troop. 24 years.

  • 1SG Green ret Trans

    Beat feet & Pop smoke

  • 1SG Green ret Trans

    Never personal strictly business…………………………………….

  • steve

    the newest one I hear at the end of a meeting….”does anyone have any alibis”….What the hell does that mean???

    • msglaigaie

      leftover ammunition after a volley during range fire. In an admin setting, it would be a request for any unasked or answered comments.

  • Glc

    Ok kiddies, sure easy to make troops “lose their minds”. Crimes sakes get out of the military. Mommy did not sign up you did.

  • Michael

    Entering the military as a private and discharged a 1st Lt., I must admit I just loved all my “TOPs” that I was associated with. All of them did their job and did it well. All were very intelligent and always very colorful in language and jargon. As a private and an officer I loved listening to their instructions to the troops. God bless the 1st Sargents.

  • Doc

    The saying that I often heard,”Move like you have a purpose in life”.

  • ron camire

    ron camire e-6 retired can we please get recognition for 26 or more years with active duty time we served but many times riots here ,putting out fires ,rescueing people from floods here a day there a day but nothing to be admonished for

  • Cliff

    As a draftee 60 years ago the sarge speak I remember best is ” If you don’t-you better!!”

  • Hank

    Want u r guys to soldier One of the definitions of to soldier is to pretend to work.

  • Hank

    I am not urgent mama.

  • jeffdg

    “Go down to the estuary and bring me back a water-line!” thank you USCG.

    • GregArnold

      Sounds like RTC Alameda

  • Edward Soria

    The best 1sgt. I ever knew was a WW11 1st Inf. Div. Infantry soldier who fought his way through Europe, what made this soldier the best in my view was his concern for his unit and men. If you did your best and carried your load you had his back no matter what- if you were slow he would do his best to get you up to speed- be a soldier. I learned a lot from observing this great soldier- Sgt. Major John B.



  • Edward Soria

    The best 1st Sgt. that I ever met was a WW11 -1st Inf. Div. soldier who fought his way through Europe-later on he became Sgt. Major in Vietnam. What was his most concern the mission of his unit and taking care of his unit soldiers, every one liked this 1st Sgt. and had respect for him. I learned a lot from observing this old soldier and made me realize how men will follow when they are well led. Always take care of your men. That man was John B. Conley.


  • OIF2medic

    Instead of”saved rounds” we got ” Any alibis”.

  • Hubert Welborn

    Best First Sergeant I ever had in the Air Force was Sgt. Tom Mayer, Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi 1963/1964. When I served my tour in Pleiku, Vietnam, my First Sergeant was Sgt. Wayne Goff, another chip off the old block. I had the pleasure of serving as Acting First Sergeant for about 6 months at Pleiku. I tried to model myself after both of these top notch gentlemen. Earned the respect of the Airmen in the unit and successfully rehabilitated several young Airmen from drug use and made them productive individuals. I guess my best job was on Airman John C, Lane from Florida. He was completely messed up but eventually made it back to reality. I treasure my memories of the fine gentlemen I served under. The jargon they use these days is mild compared to the good old days.

  • Lilith

    Lots of them in Infantry Units. Sergeants Major too, at that age.

  • Lilith

    Hooah! is an Army term as well….just not in the 70’s or 80’s.

  • GregArnold

    Raised by a Sgt/Maj who put in 28 years in the Corp, Whadda think this? Anyhow??
    Apparently a common phrase used by Marine NCOs.

  • Luis

    I did my time fifty years ago and from what I just red the service lingo have just gotten more confusing, unclear, and useless as a mean of communication. Perhaps it is my fault, but it sounds to and me as full of TV bull and hype.

  • Mike B.

    Don’t forget “a world of hurt”, and “who’s the MFIC around here?!”

  • EMcDill

    “If Uncle Sam wanted you to have it…he would have issued it to you!”

  • EMcDill

    Always reserved for novice 2Lts prior to their first nighttime parachute jump: “LT, need you to go down to supply and draw parachute lights for tonights jump”. Usually followed by muffled snickering by the men.

    • EMcDill

      And “yes”, like hundreds others, I fell for it.

  • J D

    O.O.C Navy term; out of commission, I.e. the port coffee pot is OOC