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Semper Gumby is an unofficial motto for the United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Navy submariners, Navy Seabees, Army Unit Supply Specialists, and the Civil Air Patrol. It is a play on the official motto Semper Fidelis, usually abbreviated Semper Fi, which means "Always Faithful", and that of the US Coast Guard, Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready." Semper Gumby, referring to the animated clay character Gumby, means "Always Flexible". The real Latin phrase meaning "Always Flexible" is 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.