The United States Colonial Marines (USCM) are a group of fictional space marines first introduced in the movie Aliens. They have taken a prominent role in the successive games, comics, and novels set in the Alien series.
The actual details of the force are not expressly revealed in the movies. An associated book Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood was published by HarperPrism in 1996 and describes their force structure, tactics and weapons in some detail.
The USCM is the United States' "force-in-readiness", who are at all times ready to operate in environments far from home soil. By the year 2179, the force has roughly 165,000 Marines divided into four divisions, four aerospace wings, and numerous support groups. There is also a reserve division and aerospace wing with an additional manpower of approximately 50,000 Marines.
The USCM, along with the United States Army, are part of the United Americas Allied Command. The primary duty of the USCM is to maintain the security of the United Americas signatories and colonies, and serves as the vanguard of any major operation.
The fighting groups are organized into three Marine Space Forces, each has primary responsibility for security in their areas. A Marine Space Force consists of one or two Colonial Marine Divisions and a Colonial Marine Aerospace Wing, for ground and air/space combat respectively. They are:
- Sol (two divisions), Headquartered at O'Neil Station, L-4 Earth-Lunar system.
- Eridani (one division), Headquartered at Happy Days, Helene 215.
- Herculis (one division), Headquartered at Chinook 91 GSO station, Georgia 525.
The Colonial Marines are best known for their use of the M41A pulse rifle, a futuristic assault rifle with an underslung grenade launcher, and for the M56 smart gun, a large computerized and target-tracking machine gun which is actually worn by the user using a sophisticated harness mechanism. Also featured in the movie Aliens are the M240 flamethrower, the M4A3 pistol and the UA-571C sentry guns. The Colonial Marines also employ a variety of land and aerospace vehicles, including the M577 A.P.C., the UD4L Cheyenne dropship and the Conestoga-class assault-transport ship Sulaco, all of which are featured in the film. A variety of other tanks, artillery and anti-aircraft vehicles are also mentioned in the Colonial Marines Technical Manual.
One of the Marines, Corporal Dwayne Hicks, is seen carrying a personal weapon of his, an "old fashioned" military Ithaca 37 pump-action shotgun "for close encounters". Likewise, Vasquez is later seen in the movie using a S&W Model 59.
The Marines of Aliens
The Colonial Marines are prominent characters in the 1986 film Aliens. The actors playing the Marines were required to read Starship Troopers as part of their training prior to filming. There were thirteen members of the Colonial Marines included in the film. In order of rank (and with service number), they were:
- Lieutenant S. Gorman A09/TQ4.0.56124E3 (William Hope)
- ECA L. Bishop A17/TQ2.0.35117E5 (Lance Henriksen)
- Gunnery Sergeant A. Apone A19/TQ4.0.32751E8 (Al Matthews)
- Corporal Dwayne Hicks A27/TQ4.0.48215E9 (Michael Biehn)
- Corporal C. Ferro A71/TQ9.0.09428E1 (Colette Hiller)
- Corporal C. Dietrich A41/TQ8.0.81120E2 (Cynthia Scott)
- PFC William Hudson A08/TQ1.0.41776E3 (Bill Paxton)
- PFC D. Spunkmeyer A23/TQ6.0.92810E7 (Daniel Kash)
- Private J. Vasquez A03/TQ7.0.15618E4 (Jenette Goldstein)
- Private M. Drake A23/TQ2.0.47619E7 (Mark Rolston)
- Private R. Frost A17/TQ4.0.61247E5 (Ricco Ross)
- Private T. Crowe A46/TQ1.0.98712E6 (Tip Tipping)
- Private T. Wierzbowski A14/TQ8.0.20034E7 (Trevor Steedman)
After their ship, the Sulaco, is dispatched to LV-426, most of the Marines are killed in encounters with the Aliens. Only Hicks and Bishop survive to escape the planetoid alongside Ellen Ripley and a young girl named Newt. Hicks and Bishop did not appear substantially in the sequel Alien 3 (1992), however. Hicks and Newt died off-screen at the start of the film, and Bishop made a brief appearance and then asked Ripley to permanently shut him down.