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Utah Marine credited with starting the famous ‘Oorah’ saying

By Alex Cabrero

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    OREM (KSL) — Lots of people are getting ready for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other winter-time holidays. But for John Massaro, he feels it is important to not forget about Veterans Day.

“It means a lot to me because so many of my family members served. We used to celebrate it when I was a kid when it was Armistice Day and they would bring World War I veterans to our school,” he said. “For me, Veterans Day is everything.”

His love for the military led to a 31-year career with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Massaro, who is 92 years old and lives in Orem and St. George, remembers going to a Navy recruiter in his hometown in Ohio. However, the Navy said he would have to wait a few weeks to serve, so he went to a Marine recruiter who said he could leave the very next day.

Eventually, Massaro was sent to Korea for the Korean War.

His enlistment ended while he was on the ship to Korea, but he didn’t tell anyone at first.

“The Sergeant Major said if anybody has any problems. I told him I don’t know if it is a problem or not, but my enlistment ran out aboard the ship,” Massaro said.

The Marines were about to send Massaro home, but he said no way.

“I didn’t come 5,000 miles for nothing,” he said with tears in his eyes. “All my buddies that laid down their life for the United States of America. If I would’ve come home, I couldn’t look at you or anybody in the face today.”

Massaro stayed.

After the war, one of his military assignments was to Clearfield. It’s where he met his future wife.

He decided to make the military his career and eventually was promoted all the way to become the 8th Sergeant Major of the entire U.S. Marine Corps.

It was a position right under the commandant.

“I found I liked it,” he said. “It was an honor.”

For all his military accomplishments, though, Massaro’s biggest mark in history might be known as the Marine who started the famous “oorah!” chant, which is still used today. It was written about in an article in the Marine Corps Times.

“I know that. I know they credit me with that, but I really don’t take any credit for that,” Massaro said.

He says it came from the “arroogah” sound the horn made in submarines, which he also served on. That sound became a greeting between Marines.

“All of us probably used it to some extent. And I really can’t honestly tell you how it got from ‘arroogah’ to ‘oorah.’ But somehow, it did,” he said with a chuckle.

Massaro won’t take the credit, though, because for him, it was always a team effort.

“I had a great career, and I had a great life,” he said. “I was blessed with all the assignments I had, the Marines I served with, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

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