GUEST VOICE: KENT GOOCH, RETIRED USMC SCOUT SNIPER INSTRUCTOR – On the white supremacist, neo-Nazi roots of SS sig runes in the U.S. Marine Corps


This is in reference to the recent article on Fox news re: USMC Scout-Snipers and the SS flag.

My name is Kent Gooch.  I was a USMC scout-sniper and Scout-sniper instructor from 1979-1989 as well as a US Army National Guard sniper instructor from 1995-1998.  I have also written articles on the subject for multiple US magazines, co-wrote a book “The Military and Police  Sniper” and conducted Police and Military competitions and training here in the US and Austria.

I am writing to tell you that the Shutzstaffel “SS” symbol has a deeper meaning than the USMC is aware of.  The USMC spokesmen at Camp Pendleton have no idea of what they are talking about and the Marines that are using it aren’t probably even aware of the history of the “SS” usage, particularly with the 1st Marine Division Scout –Snipers, which is where it started.

This whole thing started with the Neo-Nazis led by Tom and John Metzger of Fallbrook, California in the 80’s.  There were a few Marines at 1st Reconnaissance Battalion who were active with the neo-nazi’s.  One of them was pretty well known as a recruiter.  I heard of this Marine from a friend of mine who was a fellow scout-sniper instructor with me at the USMC Scout-sniper instructor school (SSIS) in Quantico, Virginia from 1982-1986.  My friend was stationed at 1st Recon before coming to the SSIS and mentioned this Marine in passing when talking about weird characters we had met over the years.  Believe me, this “nazi” Marine wasn’t well looked upon.  (I actually ran into the neo-nazi Marine while stationed at Marine Corps Security Forces, Pacific in 1992 or so.  He had been assigned as a student at MCSF and I was the Officer in Charge of weapons training.  I noticed a Nazi “Blood and Honor” tattoo on his arm and asked him if he was ever in 1st Recon Bn.  He replied he had been.  I then asked him if he was still a Nazi and he kind of turned pale and replied “No Sir, I gave it up for Lent”.  I turned him in to the unit commander and he had his security clearance revoked and was assigned to other duties.)

Back to SSIS.  About 1984 a SSgt was assigned to SSIS who had been the head instructor at Camp Pendletons scout-sniper school.  He brought out patches and drawings that were being popularized at the 1st Mar Div school and units.  They included skull and crossbone designs and the “SS” symbols.  The skull and crossbone design was exactly the same as the one used by the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) crew out of Fallbrook.  These designs caught on with the mentally challenged and less mature element of the scout-sniper community.  Some of the guys event went so far are to getting a version of the “SS” tattooed on their calves, so as not to attract attention, unless of course they were at physical training wearing shorts… it was all very stupid.  And apparently the mentality of some of the scout-sniper community hasn’t improved much since then.

The “SS” even made it to the Army National Guard sniper program.  In 1995 some of the Army National Guard snipers developed a challenge coin that had the “SS” on one side.  A soldier was “caught” with one, at a bar of all places and an official US Army investigation ensued and a directive went out that the “SS” symbol was not allowed.  I still have one of the coins.

Having said all of this I am positive that there is no dark “Marathon Man-ish” conspiracy within the USMC scout-sniper program.  I imagine if the community were interviewed they would almost all show a deep respect for Israel and the IDF.  But there also may be a “respect” of sorts for the dedication of the “SS” soldier but most of them probably don’t understand the whole history of the Waffen and the holocaust as most of American society get their history lessons from MTV these  days.

What you DO have is a bunch of boys that can shave, showing their stupidity and ignorance by carrying on this unauthorized and shameful tradition and the Marine Corps spokesmen don’t have a clue to the history of this “SS” stuff and its connections to the Neo-Nazis in Fallbrook.

I would suggest a look at the book series “DEATH FROM AFAR” by Rocky Chandler.  You’ll find a ton of evidence in those books.

I hope this helps.

“May the L—d bless you and keep you..”

Kent Gooch
CWO2, US Army (retired)

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  1. Mike

    They may be a bunch of boys that can shave, showing their stupidity, but they have NCO’s and officers that should know better and be on top of this white power crap. To give any credence to their “respect” for the SS soldier, that too should have been snuffed by any real NCO with balls. They should be emulating and respecting American service men and women who fought against the Nazi’s. In 1934 the SS assumed sole responsibility for running the concentration camps and it became a central element in the Nazi terror apparatus. It was the SS that organized the Holocaust. Some tough guys, butchering civilians. At least on MTV they’re not waving an SS flag and pretending to be an American Marine. These bunch of boys know what the SS is all about, get over the denial and let them know it ain’t gonna be that way in America.
    Mike USMC 70-72

  2. Jennifer Griffith

    Thank you for this interesting insight into the lack of knowledge among many in our military regarding the infamous SS symbol, as well as the white supremacist symbols. I believe that part of the NCO & officer training programs should include instruction on such symbols & movements. Ignorance can only be an excuse at the onset; once higher-ups are notified of such things, inaction is not an option & correction of the offense should be prompt. Mike is right, though, that these guys SHOULD know better!

    US Army 78-82

  3. egreg

    unless you are willing to put your self in their boots you need to STFU ! they do not rep you , they are not ambassadors they are trained killers . You are like living in the past , why dont you bitch about the union jack ? that represents slavery , hypocrites .

    2/7 1st Mar, Div

  4. Marshalldoc

    I’d love to believe that the issue of Nazi regalia in our armed forces is as innocent as Mr. Gooch portrays (and which may well be so for many servicemembers). Sadly, as figures from the Southern Poverty Law Center demonstrate, the proliferation of hate groups, including white supremacist neo-Nazi groups is accelerating (as is common in times of economic stress). It has also been well documented that these groups encourage enlistment and the acquisition of military (esp. combat) skills as a means of training their members. Further, there is active recruitment of our military by neo-Nazis both from within and without the services. In our society male children become fascinated by war, weapons, & violence at an early age. As a child, access to Nazi-related information was ubiquitous (e.g.; ‘Sgt. Rock’ comics & many others). Today’s children don’t have to read comic books, they can play computer games that put them in the middle of WWII (and in which they can choose to be a Nazi).

    So, to postulate that the discovery of Nazi ‘SS’ runes in an isolated military unit, represents the accidental discovery of a ‘few bad apples’ is probably myopic. What it more likely means is that those in charge have not been looking hard enough.

  5. personal

    I also see the symbols above in several gang tattoo’s, to be specific prison gang tattoo’s. The horns, the ss, etc. When I was in the corps I was an MP with a Latin King member, and other members of gangs out of california. I myself work in corrections, but back then i seriously doubt (the 90’s) that we realized how tattoo’s and markings were present as they are in these individuals.

  6. Carl Taylor

    Kent is correct in his depiction of the SS in the USMC Scout Sniper community. A few of the dates are a bit off but I know who he is talking about and it is spot on. I too am his brethren and can attest to what he has said about fellow Marines.

    I can also guarantee that 98% or more of our brethren are not, nor would they want to be associated with the SS troopers that were involved in the atrocities of the second world war.

    I know that there are those of you out there that will have disparaging comments towards what I have said and that is fine. I don’t commend what those men have done. However, until you have had to walk in their boots and put on the mental armor that it takes to live on a two-way range and support the man that is with you while supporting the unit that you are charged to protect with over-watch and other duties, you are un-armed and take on a condescending tone in this conversation. In short think about bad decisions that you have made in your life (when you “should have known better”) when you were young that not many know about. Now imagine that it has become public. Would you take on the the same critical tone about your transgressions?

    Carl Taylor
    Co Founder USMC Snout Sniper Association

  7. Mike

    I just want to add that there is a difference between waffen SS and allgemeine SS. It seems to pass above most peoples heads. Allgemeine SS represents what most people consider the “SS”. They werent the soldiers, they were the ones behind the frontlines – and also those responsible for alot of the atrocities connected to the “SS”.

    As a soldier myself i can only admire the tenacity and skill of the waffen SS soldiers of WW2 – especially their panzer divisions have left a permanent mark in fighting history. This is what fascinates most of the soldiers that draw inspiration from the waffen SS. Most of them dont give a damn about the political side at all. They simply look up to them for their soldier qualities.

    As an example, let me say this. Alot of our batallions tankers have Michael Wittman (and other german panzer aces) as an inspirational figure. Think it was because he was a nazi or because he had 138 tank kills, often achieved in desperate situations heavily outnumbered? Its a no-brainer really.

    I guess i just want to say that you should keep in mind theres 2 different reasons soldiers find the SS intriguing.

    Regards from a SFC from Denmark.

  8. Anthony Oliver

    Remember one thing those boys put there life’s on the line every day so you can bitch about petty things and sleep in your king size bed why they sleep in the durt the mud and the rain grow up and thank them

  9. Kent Gooch

    Thank you for writing the article On the white supremacist, neo-Nazi roots of SS sig runes in the U.S. Marine Corps.

    Karl K Wilcox

    (Graduate SSIC 2/85 MCDEC Quantico VA)

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