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Rapper Shaggy Served as a Marine Corps Artilleryman

Grammy Award-winner Shaggy, a Reggae rapper and songwriter, was also a Marine, enlisting in 1988 as an artilleryman.

He served with 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, aka "The Five and Dime," 2nd Marine Division, which was based at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

A Marine poses for a photo.
Marine Corps Pvt. Orville Richard Burrell, aka “Shaggy,” at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. in 1988.
Photo By: Marine Corps
VIRIN: 880110-O-D0439-001N

From December 1990 to April 1991, Shaggy and his regiment deployed to the Middle East during the liberation of Kuwait, known as Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

During his several years in the Marine Corps he attained the highest rank of lance corporal after having been reduced in rank twice for UA, or unauthorized absence — a fairly common occurrence for Marines of that and earlier eras.

The reason for the UAs, he said, was driving up to New York City to work on his budding music career during recording sessions and not making it back in time to the base for morning formation after the weekends. 

However, after his discharge from the Marine Corps in 1992, Shaggy, now famous in the music world, would look back on his enlistment with fondness and perform at free concerts for the military around the world.

Shaggy, born Orville Richard Burrell in Kingston, Jamaica, Oct. 22, 1968, didn't come to the United States until age 18, arriving in Brooklyn, New York, to live with his mother.

A Marine relaxes on bed with headphones on.
Orville Richard Burrell
Orville Richard Burrell, aka “Shaggy,” during his Marine Corps tour, sometime between 1988 and 1992.
Photo By: Courtesy of Orville Richard Burrell, aka “Shaggy”
VIRIN: 900110-O-D0439-001

Almost immediately, he produced No. 1 hits on the New York reggae charts, including "Big Up." 

However, he was still relatively unknown in the music world and needed a job to support himself, so he decided to join the Marine Corps.

In the years following his Marine Corps enlistment, Shaggy was nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning twice for Best Reggae Album with "Boombastic" in 1996, and "44/876" in a performance with Sting in 2019. 

Among his many other hit songs are: "It Wasn't Me," "Clothes Drop," "Intoxication," "Summer in Kingston," "Out of Many, One Music," "Com Fly Wid Mi," "Hot Shot," "In The Summertime," "Oh Carolina" and "Angel."

A singer performs on stage.
Orville Richard Burrell, aka “Shaggy,” listens to the crowd cheer during a concert July 22, 2017, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.
Photo By: Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tayler P. Schwamb
VIRIN: 170722-M-VB761-835

In 2007, he was awarded the Jamaican Order of Distinction with the rank of Commander. In 2022, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from Brown University. 

Historical note on "The Five and Dime," the battalion where Shaggy served: 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment served in combat in Iraq in 2007 and Afghanistan 2009-2010. The battalion was deactivated in June 2012.

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