Semper Gumby

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Semper Gumby is an unofficial dog Latin motto meaning "Always Flexible", used by the United States Navy, United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, US Navy submariners, Navy Seabees, Army Unit Supply Specialists, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps, Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA and the Civil Air Patrol. It is a play on the motto Semper Fidelis (which means "Always Faithful"), the official USMC motto. It is also a play on Semper fortis which means "Always strong", and the official motto of the US Coast Guard, Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready." Semper Gumby, referring to the animated clay character Gumby.[1] (The real Latin phrase meaning "Always Flexible" would be Semper Flexibilis.)

While the first use of Semper Gumby is often assigned to Captain Jay Farmer of HMM-264 in 1984 who actually flew with a Gumby character toy mounted on the standby compass on the instrument panel of his CH-46E nicknamed "Airwolf", the term was in use in 1977/78 in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton.

While popular belief has it that the term was first referenced by the 1st Sgt TOW Co. 3rd Tank Battalion 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Task Force Ripper) prior to deployment of Operation Desert Shield from MCAGCC 29 Palms, Ca. on August 15, 1990. "Marines, My platoon commander in Nam used to tell us 'Semper Gumby, Always Flexible'." The 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines has "always flexible" as part of their official motto. Semper Gumby is also a common phrase used in the field of emergency management.


  1. ^ "'Embrace the Suck' and More Military Speak". NPR. 2007-03-08. Retrieved 2015-08-12.

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