John R. Massaro
John R. Massaro is a retired United States Marine and served as the eighth Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 1977 to 1979. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Massaro was born on May 22, 1930, in Cleveland, Ohio. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on August 6, 2948, the year he graduated from high school.
Following his recruit training, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion 6th Marines as a rifleman, then transferred to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. In March 1950, he was assigned to the Marine Barracks, U.S. Navy Supply Depot, in Clearfield, Utah, as a security guard. He then completed the first of his three tours as a drill instructor at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego. In April 1952, he completed a tour of duty with the 1st Marine Division in Korea. He then returned to San Diego as a drill instructor and then an instructor at the Drill Instructor School.
He was a company gunnery sergeant until November 1959. He was then transferred to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. He then returned to Gunnery Sergeant duties. In June 1963, he returned to San Diego for a third tour as a drill instructor, serving as Chief Drill Instructor. Massaro then transferred to the Inspector-Instructor Staff of the 4th Force Reconnaissance Company in San Bernardino, California.
In 1967, the Sergeant Major joined the 3rd Engineer Battalion in South Vietnam. He was initially assigned as a Company First Sergeant and later became the battalion Sergeant Major.
Massaro next reported to the Marine Corps Recruiting Station in San Francisco, California, and served as Recruiting Station Sergeant Major until August 1972. He then returned overseas and served as group Sergeant Major of Marine Aircraft Group 36 on Okinawa. Following that tour, he served as Sergeant Major to the Inspector General of the Marine Corps at Headquarters Marine Corps.
In May 1976, Massaro became Sergeant Major of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California, and remained in that billet until his selection as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps. Sergeant Major John R. Massaro assumed the post of 8th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on 1 April 1977.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Massaro moved to Utah where he worked for Veterans Affairs in Salt Lake City for about three years. Now fully retired, Massaro splits his time between two homes in Utah, one in Orem and the other in St. George.
His awards include Legion of Merit, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with 1 award star and valor device, Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Unit Commendation with 1 service star, Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with 7 service stars, National Defense Service Medal with 1 service star, Korean Service Medal with 3 service stars, Vietnam Service Medal with 5 service stars, Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation, United Nations Korea Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Korean War Service Medal, Rifle Expert Badge, and Pistol Expert Badge.
He is credited with “oorah" as a battle cry for generations of Marines. Some historic references cite Massaro's tour at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego as the place "oorah" really caught hold when he began using the phrase with new recruits.