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Marine Enlisted Rank-1959 
Except as otherwise indicated, the information here is from the Marine Corps Historical Pamphlet, United States Marine Corps Ranks And Grades 1775-1969, by Nalty, Strobridge, Turnbladh and Gill, Historical Division, HQMC 
Between 1946 and 1958, there were only three major alternations in the enlisted rank structure. First, the Career Compensation Act of 12 October 1949 turned the pay-grade numbering system upside down by placing  privates in pay grade E-1 and master sergeants in grade E-7. Second, the Marine Corps announced in December 1954 the establishment of two additional titles within grade E-7. The rank of sergeant major was to take precedence over the newly resurrected first sergeant, who, in turn, was placed above the master sergeant. This last change was made to give recognition to noncommissioned officers acting in these important billets; the job of first sergeant or sergeant major was too important to be classed merely as an administrative specialty. This re-emphasis on the role of the senior noncommissioned officers was followed by a sweeping revision of the enlisted ranks and grades of the Marine Corps in 1958, after Congress amended the Career Compensation Act of 1949 and authorized two new pay grades, E-8 and E-9. This revision was designed to relieve the crowding at the E-7 grade, caused by the rapid World War II output of noncommissioned officers and, since then, by the moving up--appropriately enough--of the specifically skilled men which every service was recruiting more and more. The end result, however, was an unbalanced structure, too heavy at the top.
By 1958, the proportion of NCOs in the Marine Corps had climbed to 58% of the total enlisted strength, a startling figure when compared to the 25% of 1941. It is even more startling when one considers that the Marine Corps from its founding until World War I never had a proportion higher that 18.8%, with the usual percentage ranging between 13 and 15%. The increased mechanized nature of World War I, however, had shown the need for military technicians in modern warfare, From then on, an increase in the proportion of NCOs resulted. By 1937, it had reached 27%, and a staggering 40% by 1954.
This compression at the top, 58% in 1958, led to rank imbalance and confusion. There were E-7s supervising other E-7s, while some corporals continued doing the same job after promotion as they did before. In short, the prestiege of the NCO, traditional and necessary to any military service, was declining at the very time when it should be increased.
The solution to this imbalance, plus other desirable changes, was ordered by the Commandant on 25 November 1958, to be effective 1January 1959. Substantially, it followed the recommendation of a study by the Enlisted Rank and Pay Structure Board, convened to adapt the new legislation to the Marine Corps. Besises revisions of rank structure, adjustments of proficiency pay were made in an attempt to meet competition for critical skills without inflation of rank, develop and maintain a balanced work force, and reward outstanding individual achievement.
A transitional period of dual grade structure, to end entirely on 1 January 1965, was worked out to insure that no Marine would lose stripes. This was achieved by establishing "acting" ranks, so that all Marines would be able to retain their existing titles, insignia, and privileges. Upon promotion, they would assume the new rank titles. The prefix "acting," however, was abolished by the Commandant on 1 August 1960, and the end of the transitional period for all grades was moved up to 1 July 1963.
In this revision of 1958, the ranks of corporal through master sergeant were upgraded one pay grade each, making room for an additional private rank. The sergeant major/first sergeant program was retained, with its historic command prestiege, but a new technical leadership was introduced into the top NCO levels, in recognition of the ever-increasing complexity of waging modern warfare, by permitting E-8 and E-9 billets to be filled also by occupational specialists. Since technical adeptness was now required of quite a few others besides the technical sergeant, this title ceased to have value and it was deleted. Marines holding that rank were designated acting gunnery sergeants.
The rank of corporal was placed in pay grade E-4 in order to preserve his status as the junior NCO in the Marine Corps. The rank of sergeant with three stripes, formerly E-4, was selected to replace the rank of staff sergeant at E-5, in order to have two ranks of NCOs and to remove one rank from the ranks of staff NCOs which would start at staff sergeant in pay grade E-6. Personnel holding the rank of staff sergeant would carry the title of acting staff sergeant until promoted.
The occasion also enabled the Marine Corps to reapply its colorful history to the grade structure. The title of lance corporal, first used by the Marines in the Indian Wars of the 1830s was revived. Now, for the first time, it was a permanent rank. In addition, the memorable "Gunny"--the gunnery sergeant and the master gunnery sergeant--was exhumed.
In E-7, the gunnery sergeant was used in place of the master sergeant, partly to restore the traditional rank and to move the title "master sergeant" from pay grade E-7 to E-8. As for the first sergeant, no change was involved except to raise the rank from E-7 to E-8. The rank of master gunnery sergeant, revived to provide leadership in occupational fields, was put at the top in E-9, alongside the sergeant major, raised from E-7 to E-9 and still the senior NCO.
Viewed in its entirety, the new enlisted structure enhanced career attractiveness which, for more than a century, had drawn volunteers to the Marine Corps. There was full acknowledgement of the modern military picture, yet no Marine could sadly say that "things aren't like thet were in the old corps." Also, the first year under the revised structure, fiscal year 1959, saw a new proportion of NCOs--a more logical 37.4%, and as of 30 November 1961, it was still only 37.5%.
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