3rd Battalion 3rd Marines

3rd Battalion 3rd Marines

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines

caption= 3/3's Insignia
dates= 1942-06-011945-12-20 1951-08-011974-06-01 1975-10-01–present
country= United States of America
branch= United States Marine Corps
type= Light infantry
role= Locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and maneuver
command_structure= 3rd Marine Regiment 3rd Marine Division
current_commander= [http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/BNCO.htm Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan C. Goff]
garrison=Marine Corps Base Hawaii
nickname= "America's Battalion"
motto= "Fortuna Fortes Juvat" "Fortune Favors the Brave"
battles= World War II *Bougainville campaign *Battle of Guam *Battle of Iwo Jima Vietnam War *Operation Starlite *Battle of Hill 881 *Tet Offensive *Operation Taylor Common Gulf War *Battle of Khafji Afghan War Iraq War
notable_commanders=Ralph Houser Charles Krulak Joseph Muir

3rd Battalion 3rd Marines (3/3) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps, based out of Kāne'ohe, Hawai'i, and consisting of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors. [The United States Marine Corps is a part of the Department of the Navy. Traditionally, the Navy has supplied it with both corpsmen and chaplains. See also Marine Corps Operating Forces.] Known as "America's Battalion", the unit falls under the 3rd Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division. [cite web |url=http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/index.htm |accessdate=2006-03-20 |title=Third Marine Regiment Home Page |publisher=United States Marine Corps] The battalion was originally at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in 1942 and saw action on both Bougainville and Guam during World War II. Following the war, it was disbanded until 1951, when it was reformed in California. The battalion was alerted for possible deployment during the 1956 Suez War and the 1958 intervention in Lebanon. In 1965, the Marines of 3rd Battalion were deployed to Vietnam and participated in Operation Starlite, the first major Marine engagement of that conflict. The battalion continued to see major action through the Vietnam War and was rotated back to the United States in 1969. Around the end of the Vietnam War, 3rd Battalion was deactivated for a second time in 1974.

In 1975, 3rd Battalion was reformed for the third (and last) time at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. During this time, the battalion conducted numerous deployments in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 1983, 3rd Battalion deployed off the coast of Lebanon for several weeks during a particularly tense period in the civil war. It deployed again in 1990 as part of Operation Desert Shield and saw action at the Battle of Khafji and again during the liberation of Kuwait. In 2004, the battalion deployed overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and in 2006 and 2007 to Iraq.

Marines from 3rd Battalion have distinguished themselves in battle and in Marine Corps service — among 3/3 Marines are a Commandant of the Marine Corps, four Medal of Honor recipients, and over twenty Navy Cross winners. The battalion itself has been awarded two Presidential Unit Citations for "gallantry, determination, and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions" and four Navy Unit Commendations for "outstanding service."


Like many infantry battalions in the Marine Corps, 3/3 consists of five companies: three rifle companies, a Headquarters and Services (H&S) company, and a weapons company. The three rifle companies have traditionally been I Company, K Company, and L Company. Because the Marine Corps uses the NATO phonetic alphabet, these companies are commonly known as India, Kilo, and Lima. [For the sake of clarity, their current names are the ones used throughout the article] Prior to 1956, under the Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet, they were known as Item, King, and Love. A fourth rifle company, M ("Mike") Company was attached to the battalion during the Vietnam War. The H&S company consists of the battalion staff, and Weapons Company provides fire support coordination, medium mortars, anti-armor weapons, and heavy machine gun support for the rifle companies.


World War II

3rd Battalion 3rd Marines was activated on 1942-06-01 at New River, North Carolina as the 5th Training Battalion, Division Special Troops, 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force. On 1942-06-16, they were redesignated as the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Fleet Marine Force. In August to September 1942, 3/3 deployed to Tutuila, American Samoa and was reassigned to the 2nd Marine Brigade. In 1943, they were reassigned to the Fleet Marine Force. In May 1943, they redeployed to Auckland, New Zealand and in June, were reassigned to the 3rd Marine Division. In July to August 1943, they redeployed to Guadalcanal to begin training in preparation for the invasion of Bougainville.

On 1943-11-01, 3rd Battalion landed at Cape Torokina with the rest of 3rd Marines, just east of the Koromokina River. While resistance was extremely light, the rough surf and dense jungle (which in many places extended all the way to the water) resulted in numerous landing craft being lost or damaged beyond repair.cite web| url=http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-M-NSols/index.html |title="Bougainville and the Northern Solomons" |author=Major John M. Rentz, USMCR |publisher=Historical Branch, Headquarters, United States Marine Corps |year=1946 |accessdate = 2007-01-24] For the next three weeks, 3/3 slowly advanced down the Numa Numa Trail until it was ordered to dig in near Piva Forks on November 17. From 1943-11-18 to 1943-11-24, it took part in the destruction of the Japanese 23rd Infantry Regiment at the Battle of Piva Forks, which earned the Marines from 3/3 four Navy Crosses. Two days later, 3rd Battalion was moved over to a relatively quiet sector on the 3rd Division's flank where it remained for the remainder of the operation.

In December, the 3rd Marine Division was relieved by the Americal Division and 3/3 left Bougainville for Guadalcanal on Christmas Day, 1943.cite web|url=http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmchist/3rdMar.txt |title="A Brief History of the 3rd Marines" |author=Benis M. Frank|year=1968|publisher=Historical Branch, United States Marine Corps|accessdate = 2006-01-24] They left behind 36 of their comrades, including Corporal John Logan Jr. and Captain Robert Turnbull (Lima Company), who both won Navy Crosses during the Battle of Piva Forks. 165 other Marines from 3rd Battalion became casualties during the campaign. From January to May 1944, 3/3 conducted numerous training exercises on Guadalcanal in preparation for the invasion of Kavieng in April (which was cancelled) and the Marianas in June. While 3rd Marines was designated as the floating reserve for the initial invasion of Saipan, they were ultimately not landed and returned to Eniwetok for a three week stay prior to the invasion of Guam. During the interlude, the Marines of 3/3 were primarily confined to their transport ship, the USS Warren.

On 1944-07-21, around 0830, 3rd Battalion hit the beaches on the extreme left of the entire 3rd Marine Division. Their mission was to take Chonito Cliff and Adelup Point, which marked the left flank of the division.cite web |url=http://www.nps.gov/archive/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003126-00/index.htm |title="Liberation: Marines in the Recapture of Guam" |author=Cyril J. O'Brien |publisher=Marine Corps History and Museums Division, United States Marine Corps |year=1994 |accessdate = 2007-02-24] Supported by half-tracks and armor from the 3rd Tank Battalion, 3rd Battalion fought a bloody three hour battle up the side of Chonito Cliff and became the only unit in 3rd Marines to accomplish its objectives by the end of W-Day. During the first night, a mortarman with Kilo Company, Private First Class Luther Skaggs, Jr., was critically wounded in the leg by a Japanese grenade. After applying a tourniquet, Skaggs continued to fight for another eight hours before moving unassisted to the rear where most of his leg was amputated. For this he became the first Marine from 3rd Battalion to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Two other Marines from 3/3, including the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Houser, won the Navy Cross that day.

After securing Adelup Point, 3rd Battalion provided flank security for the rest of 3rd Marines during the Battle for Bundschu Ridge, the counterattack on the 25th which broke the back of Japanese resistance, and the assault on Fonte Plateau. During these actions Lieutenant Colonel Houser was seriously wounded and the Executive Officer, Major Royal R. Bastian, Jr., took command. On 1944-07-31, 3rd Battalion proceeded east on the Mt. Tenjo road towards the island capital of Agana, which it liberated the same day after token resistance. For the remaining ten days of the campaign, the battalion marched northeast up the coast, encountering occasional enemy resistance, until the island was declared secure on 1944-08-10. Casualties for the 3rd Battalion were twice as great as on Bougainville, with 300 wounded and 97 killed.cite web |url=http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USMC/USMC-M-Guam/index.html |title="The Recapture of Guam" |author=Major O.R. Lodge, USMC|publisher=Historical Branch, G-3 Division, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps |year=1954 |accessdate = 2007-05-05]

Following the invasion of Guam, 3rd Battalion spent two months conducting mopping up operations on the island until November, when it received orders to prepare for action at Iwo Jima. From November until February 1945, they took part in a training regimen so serious that a fellow battalion later reported at least 20% of its members were incapacitated due to foot and heat injuries. During the Battle of Iwo Jima, 3rd Battalion, as part of 3rd Marines, was kept offshore as the Expeditionary Troops reserve. However, despite numerous requests from other Marine officers, the 3rd Marines spent its time at Iwo Jima sitting in its transport ships. On 1945-03-05, the 3rd Marines were ordered to return to Guam. [cite web |url=http://www.nps.gov/archive/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003131-00/sec5a.htm
title="The Drive North" |work=Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima |author=Colonel Joseph H. Alexander |publisher=Marine Corps Historical Center, United Stahttp://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008805230371#pluckcommentsGone, yes — but never forgotten | HonoluluAdvertiser.com | The Honolulu Advertisertes Marine Corps |year=1994 |accessdate = 2006-02-25

Back on Guam, 3rd Battalion began training for a landing on Miyako Jima, an island just south of Okinawa. Those orders were eventually cancelled, but the battalion still saw minor combat in 1945, participating in two operations on Guam designed to capture Japanese soldiers still holding out in the hills. These sweeps took place in April and December 1945. 3/3 also began preparing for Operation Olympic, where as part of V Amphibious Corps, it would have landed at Kushikino, Kagoshima on Kyūshū. After the dropping of the atomic bombs in August 1945, and Japan's surrender, 3rd Battalion was detached from the 3rd Marine Division in November 1945 and deactivated the following month on 1945-12-20.cite web |url=http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/lineage.htm |title=3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines Lineage |publisher=3rd Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps] Shortly before it was deactivated, the Battalion suffered the dubious honor of having the last Marine killed in World War II, when PFC W.C. Patrick Bates of Company K was shot by a Japanese sniper on December 14 during a mopping up operation on Guam. [cite news | last = Nakaso | first = Dan | title = Gone, yes — but never forgotten | work = Honolulu Advertiser | date = 2008-05-23 | url = http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2008805230371 | accessdate = 2008-05-26]


3rd Battalion 3rd Marines was reactivated at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in August 1951 as part of the 3rd Marine Brigade.cite web |url=http://geocities.com/itemco3d/memories.html |title="Memories" |work=Item Co. 3rd Marines 1951–54 |author=Dave Tucker |accessdate = 2007-01-20] In February 1952, it took part in Lex-Baker-1, which was the first full-scale Marine-Navy exercise held on the West Coast since 1949. In May, India Company participated in the ground portion of the Operation Buster-Jangle atomic bomb tests in Nevada. In August, part of the Battalion took part in an amphibious landing on Lake Washington as part of Seattle's "Seafair." Then in December, 3rd Battalion took part in one of the first exercises at Twentynine Palms, California. The entire 3rd Marine Division, including 3/3, was transported more than convert|280|mi|km|0 by truck between Pendleton and Twenty-nine Palms. During the exercise, Third Battalion made a night airlift using over sixty helicopters.

In January 1953, the unit deployed to the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station on Oahu for six months of training, after which 3/3 returned to Pendleton. In August 1953, 3/3 deployed to Japan for training operations at Kin Beach, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. In 1956, 3rd Battalion was on a MEU in the Indian Ocean when the Suez War broke out. Though alerted for possible action in Egypt and the surrounding region, the crisis was ultimately resolved. During this cruise, 3/3 visited Brunei Bay, Bombay, Karachi, and Singapore, before returning to Japan. In December 1956, the entire 3rd Marine Regiment was deployed off of Indonesia because of civil strife in that country. In 1958, 3/3 was alerted for possible deployment to Lebanon, but its transports were turned back in the Indian Ocean to Okinawa.

Vietnam War

In January 1965, the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California deployed for a tour on Okinawa, Japan,cite web |url=http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/lineage.htm |accessdate=2006-03-20 |title=3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines Lineage |publisher=3rd Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps] where they were redesignated the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. At the time the Marines of 3rd Battalion expected a typical 13-month deployment followed by a quick return to the states. However 3/3 found itself caught up in the initial deployment of Marine units to Vietnam, and landed on May 12 along the coast south of Danang at an airfield called Chu Lai.

The battalion's first major operation in the Vietnam War was Operation Starlite, which was also the first major American action in the war. Starlite was an attempt by three Marine battalions, including 3/3, to clear the area just south of Chu Lai of the 1st VC Regiment. The fighting began on 1965-08-18 when Third Battalion conducted an amphibious landing just east of the VC positions. At first the attack was slowed by effective VC delaying tactics. However, 3rd Battalion eventually advanced to the outskirts of the village of An Cuong 2. While attempting to clear the village, India Company came under intense fire from VC defending the village. When one squad under Corporal Robert E. O'Malley was ambushed, O'Malley jumped into a VC trench and personally killed eight Viet Cong. Wounded three times, O'Malley refused to be evacuated until all his men were safe and was later awarded the Medal of Honor. The rest of India Company managed to route the VC in the village. However, during the fighting Captain Bruce Webb was killed when a supposedly-dead VC threw a grenade into the India Company command group. India then had to fight its way back to the rest of the battalion through other Viet Cong units still operating in the area.

Around 1200, an H&S supply convoy bound for India Company was ambushed and pinned down. A force sent to relieve them was also pinned down. During the afternoon 3rd Battalion 7th Marines was airlifted ashore to help India Company and managed to stabilize this situation for the rest of the day. During the night, the Viet Cong retreated, resulting in a tactical American victory. The United States lost 52 Marines in the operation, 15 of which came from 3rd Battalion. Three Navy Crosses were awarded to 3/3 Marines, including Captain Webb (posthumously), the battalion commander Lieutenant Colonel Muir, and Sergeant James Mulloy.cite web |url=http://www.military.com/NewContent/0,13190,Leatherneck_050815_Starlite,00.html |title=Operation Starlite: The First Battle of the Vietnam War |work=Leatherneck Magazine |author=Otto J. Lehrack |year=2005|accessdate = 2006-11-24]

3/3 did not see major action again until the fall of 1966 when it moved north to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). However, during this period the battalion continued to conduct regular sweeps and low-level (i.e. small unit) combat operations against the enemy. Among the casualties suffered during this period was Lieutenant Colonel Joe Muir, who was killed when he stepped on an IED. In October 1966, 3rd Battalion was deployed to combat the threat from the North Vietnamese Army in the Quang Tri province. While deployed in Quang Tri, 3/3 fought in such places as the Rockpile, Cam Lo, A-3, Gio Linh, Khe Sanh, and Con Thien. In December the battalion suffered from a tragic case of friendly fire when two F-4 Phantoms dropped several bombs in the middle of Mike Company, killed seventeen Marines and wounding a dozen others. Corpsman Donald Rion won a posthumous Silver Star for his efforts to treat the wounded, despite suffering a mortal wound himself. [cite web |url=http://www.virtualwall.org/dr/RionDJ01a.htm |title=Donald Rion, HM3, Navy, Northbrook IL, 10Dec66 13E029 |work=The Virtual Wall |author=Jim Schueckler and Ken Davis |year=2006|accessdate = 2007-05-15] In the spring of 1967, 3rd Battalion participated in a series of bloody engagements near Khe Sanh known as the Hill fights, culminating in the Battle of Hill 881, where 46 Marines from 3/3 were killed. [cite web |url=http://www.virtualwall.org/ds/SchleyRJ01a.htm |title=Robert Schley, CPL, Marine Corps, Oregon WI, 30Apr67 18E128 |work=The Virtual Wall |author=Jim Schueckler and Ken Davis |year=2006|accessdate = 2007-05-15] The violence in the area continued to increase throughout 1967, culminating in 1968's Tet Offensive

In early 1969, 3rd Battalion was sent south for several months to join Task Force Yankee in Operation Taylor Common near An Hoa. This three-month operation focused on destroying the primary base for North Vietnamese Army forces operating across several provinces and 3/3 was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation for its actions during the operation. Ten Marines from 3/3 were killed during the operation (out of 183 total US fatalities), and American forces captured numerous quantities of North Vietnamese armies and supplies. [cite web |url=http://1stbattalion3rdmarines.com/operations-history-folder/operation_taylor_common.htm |title=Operation Taylor Common |work="Semper Fi Vietnam, from DaNang to the DMZ Marine Corps Campaigns, 1965-1975" |author=Edward Murphy |year=1997 |accessdate = 2007-05-01] While 3/3 returned to the DMZ for the summer of 1969, it was ordered back to the United States in the fall. The battalion began to depart on 1969-10-01 and had arrived at Camp Pendleton by the end of 1969. [cite web |url=http://members.aol.com/gruntusmc/33hist.htm|title=3/3/History|author=Otto Lehrack|accessdate = 2006-11-26] 3rd Battalion spent over 1600 days in Vietnam and conducted 48 combat operations, the most of any Marine battalion in the conflict. [cite web |url=http://www.3rdmarines.net/Vietnam_USMC_Battalions.htm |title=USMC Battalions in Vietnam |work=3rd Marines in Vietnam |author=Bob Neener |year=2005|accessdate = 2006-05-01] 647 3/3 Marines lost their lives during the Vietnam War and countless others were wounded.


The battalion relocated during October to November 1969 to MCB Camp Pendleton and was reassigned to the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade. They were again reassigned in April 1971 to the 1st Marine Division. The battalion was deactivated June 1, 1974.cite web|url=http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/lineage.htm|title=3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines Lineage|publisher=3rd Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps] 3/3 was reactivated on 1975-10-01 at MCB Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, and assigned to the 3rd Marine Division. Elements of the battalion deployed to the Western Pacific at various times during the 1970s and 1980s. In February 1980, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the battalion was deployed to the Persian Gulf onboard the USS Okinawa and was also the back-up force during Operation Eagle Claw. This deployment made 3rd Battalion the first American ground unit to enter the region since World War II. [cite web |url=http://rescueattempt.tripod.com/id15.html|title=The 31st Marine Amphibious Unit in the Arabian Sea During the Hostage Crisis|work=The Hostage Rescue Attempt In Iran, April 24–25, 1980|publisher=James Bancroft|accessdate = 2007-03-24]

In the summer of 1983, the battalion was in Mombassa, Kenya as part of the 31st MAU [When Marine battalions are deployed on an MEU they are referred to as a Battalion Landing Team (BLT)] when the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered it to the Mediterranean in support of the Multinational Force in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. It arrived on 1983-09-12 and spent three weeks off the coast as a reserve force for the 24th MAU on the USS Tarawa, before departing on October 9th for the Indian Ocean because of a crisis near the Strait of Hormuz. [cite web |url=http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/HD/Historical/Chronologies/Campaign/Lebanon_1982-1984.htm|title=Marines in Lebanon, 1982–1984|work=Campaign Chronologies of the United States Marine Corps|publisher=History Division, United States Marine Corps|accessdate = 2007-02-24Dead link|date=October 2008]

Desert Shield/Desert Storm

In 1990, 3rd Battalion was finishing up a deployment at Camp Hansen on Okinawa when on 1990-08-02, at 0200, the commanding officer of the 9th Marine Regiment notified the battalion to be prepared to immediately redeploy to Saudi Arabia as a response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. [cite journal | last = Huddleston | first = Craig S | title = Commentary on DESERT SHIELD | journal = Marine Corps Gazette | pages = 32 | publisher = Marine Corps Association | date = 1991-01-01 | url = http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/archives.asp | accessdate = 2006-11-23] No sooner had the battalion returned to Hawaii, then it was shipped out again to Saudi Arabia as part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. [cite web | url=http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/usmchist/gulf.txt | title=Anthology and Annotated Bibliography | work=U.S. Marines in the Persian Gulf, 1990–1991 | author= Maj Charles D. Melson, USMC, Evelyn A. Englander, and Capt David A. Dawson, USMC | publisher=History and Museums Division, United States Marine Corps | accessdate = 2006-11-26] India Company deployed first on August 15 to Guam to provide onboard security for the Maritime Prepositioning ships bound for the port of Al Jubayl. [Lehrack, p. 17] On September 1, the rest of the battalion arrived in Dahran. [cite book |author=Otto J. Lehrack |title=America’s Battalion: Marines in the First Gulf War |location=Tuscaloosa |publisher=The University of Alabama Press |year=2005 |pages=p. 21]

As one of the first Marine units in country, 3/3 found itself defending a key position at Cement Ridge, about 90 kilometers away from the Kuwaiti border. With orders to hold against any Iraqi attack, 3rd battalion spent most of the months of August and September digging defensive positions. [Lehrack, p. 42] In October, 3/3 and 2/3 were designated "Task Force Taro" and moved to the extreme right flank of the Marine sector, bordering the Saudi Arabian King Abdul Aziz Brigade. Because of their close proximity, Taro was ordered by Major General James M. Myatt (Commanding General, 1st Marine Division) to begin cross-training with the Saudi forces. This cross-training continued through January, when 3/3 was moved forward to defend Al Mish'ab along the Saudi coast and became the northernmost Marine combat force in Saudi Arabia.

Operation Desert Storm began on 1991-01-17, but for the first two weeks 3/3 only conducted sporadic engagements with its Iraqi counterparts across the border.cite web| url=http://www.gulflink.osd.mil/declassdocs/marines/19961028/100896_sep96_decls1_0003.html |accessdate=2006-11-25 |title=Command Chronology 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines Jan-Feb 1991 |author=3rd Marines |publisher=GulfLINK] That all changed on 1991-01-29, when several Iraqi divisions unexpectedly crossed the border and seized the Saudi town of Khafji, less than 15 kilometers north of 3rd Battalion's position. During the attack, Major Craig Huddleston, the Executive Officer, along with the Battalion Sergeant Major and several other non-commissioned officers, drove into the town on a rescue mission, looking for two Army soldiers who had accidentally driven right into the Iraqi positions and been captured. Although they were unable to find the soldiers, the Marines from 3rd Battalion did blunder into an Iraqi patrol and exchanged rounds with them before making their own escape. [Lehrack, p. 125–133] While Saudi and Qatari units ultimately retook the town, 3rd Battalion played a vital role in both coordinating the attack and blocking further Iraqi advances southward. In addition, several heavy machine guns and forward air controllers from the battalion were shifted over to the Saudis and took place in the assault.

From 1991-02-19 to 1991-02-21, 3/3 moved from Al Mish'ab to the forward assembly areas that it would be using to launch its attack into Kuwait. It was also during this period that 3/3 was given its assignment for the ground offensive. Lacking heavy armor or motorized transport, the battalion (along with 2/3) would infiltrate Iraqi positions along the Saudi border and provide flank security for the rest of the 1st Division to make its assault into Kuwait. As TF Taro's commander, Brigadier General John H. Admire, recalled in his history "The 3d Marines in Desert Storm": "We were encouraged by MajGen Myatt's confidence in assigning us such a critical task with minimum notice and accepted our supporting attack role with the understanding that we would have no armor, no assault amphibious vehicles, no major mechanical or explosive breaching assets. We would simply infiltrate at night on foot, with bayonets and rifles as our principal weapons." cite journal |author=BGen John H. Admire |title="The 3d Marines in Desert Shield" |journal=Marine Corps Gazette |volume=75 |month=August | year=1991 |pages=81–84] An NCO with 3rd Marines, Corporal Eroshevich, said the reaction among the enlisted Marines was less optimistic: "We all looked at each other and said, `Well, it was nice knowing you...'" [cite web |url=http://www.historynet.com/historical_conflicts/3034241.html?page=4&c=y |title=Persian Gulf War: U.S. Marines' Minefield Assault |work=Military History Quarterly |author=Otto Kreisher |year=2002|accessdate = 2006-05-04]

Other Marines from 3rd Battalion wondered if they'd been given the mission because several days earlier they had shot at the 1st Marine Division commander while he was conducting forward reconnaissance. [Lehrack, p. 165] On the night of 1991-02-22, 3rd Battalion crossed the border into Kuwait, infiltrating past Iraqi minefields, tank traps, and other obstacles. Like many American units, 3/3 encountered no Iraqi resistance and the biggest threat to the Marines came from friendly fire. Throughout the ground war, the battalion advanced steadily northwards, encountering no resistance but taking plenty of prisoners, and arrived outside the Kuwait International Airport around 1991-02-27. Several months later, 3rd Battalion returned to Hawaii, having suffered no casualties. [Lehrack, p. 205]


Between its participation in Desert Storm and the Afghan War, 3rd Battalion conducted multiple deployments around the Pacific Rim. In October 1994 3/3 was reassigned to the 3rd Marine Division. In 1995 the battalion spent the latter part of the year training at Camp Fuji and Okinawa. It returned again in 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2002. Among the many countries 3/3 visited during this period were Australia, Tonga, the Philippines, Korea, Brunei, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong. [Information taken from plaques on wall of Battalion Headquarters, 2007-02-23.]

Afghanistan and Iraq

In late 2004, 3rd Battalion was given its marching orders for war. [cite news |url=http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2004/Aug/13/ln/ln01a.html |accessdate=2007-02-23 |title=Kane'ohe Marines stand by to deploy |author=William Cole |date=2004-08-13 |work=The Honolulu Advertiser] On 2004-10-31, the first Marines left Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii for an eight month deployment to eastern Afghanistan. The rest of the battalion arrived throughout November. While serving in Afghanistan, 3/3 conducted Operation Spurs in February 2005, where they were inserted into the Korangal Valley and conducted both counterinsurgency and humanitarian operations. In March 3/3 launched a similar sweep called Operation Mavericks. On 2005-05-08, the battalion suffered its only fatalities for the deployment when Lance Corporal Nicholas Kirven and Corporal Richard Schoener were killed during a three-hour firefight in Alisang which also resulted in twenty-three Taliban killed. [cite news |url=http://starbulletin.com/2005/07/23/news/story6.html |accessdate=2007-05-01 |title=Marines ‘didn’t give up and didn’t let us give up’ |author=Diana Leone |date=2005-07-23 |work=The Honolulu Star-Bulletin] During the fighting, Lieutenant Stephen Boada won the Silver Star for calmly directing bombing runs on the Taliban positions, despite being wounded several times. 3rd Battalion returned on 2005-06-21. [cite web |url=http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/hd/Historical/Chronologies/Yearly/2004.htm |title=Yearly Chronologies of the United States Marine Corps - 2004 |publisher=History Division, United States Marine Corps |accessdate = 2006-01-25Dead link|date=October 2008]

In March 2006, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines deployed to western Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.cite news|accessdate=2006-03-20 |url=http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/F521217B69E8478C85257135005CD0F4?opendocument |title=Hawaii-based unit, 'America’s Battalion, arrives in Al Anbar Province |author=Sgt. Roe F. Seigle |date=2006-03-18 |id=#200618115348 |work=Marine Corps NewsDead link|date=October 2008] They relieved in place the 3rd Battalion 1st Marines in the Haditha area and were based out of the Haditha Dam. This deployment was particularly sensitive, coming around the same time that news of the Haditha killings broke in the United States. Once it arrived in Iraq, 3rd Battalion was given the mission of "fighting insurgents, working with locals to improve local economy and quality of life, and training Iraqi soldiers."cite news |url=http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/lookupstoryref/20068213451 |accessdate=2007-04-28 |title=Security in Haditha Triad city comes one step at a time for Marines, Iraqi soldiers |author=Sgt. Roe F. Seigle |date=2006-08-02 |work=Marine Corps NewsDead link|date=October 2008] The Battalion was also partned up with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the 7th Iraqi Army Division.

Unlike previous units in the Haditha sector, which ran their operations out of the Dam, 3rd Battalion (Along with 3/1) used an approach of "constant presence". It created a series of forward operating bases in the local cities of Haditha, Barwanah, and Haqlaniyah, from which the rifle and weapons companies sent out constant patrols to keep the insurgent groups off balance. [cite news |url=http://blogs.usatoday.com/iraq/2006/06/index.html |accessdate=2007-04-28 | title=Dispatches from Iraq |author=Kimberly Johnson |date=2006-06-16-2006-06-30 |work=USA TodayDead link|date=October 2008] During the deployment, in addition to training local Iraqis, the Marines from 3/3 conducted more than 8,000 patrols, located 54 weapons caches and detained more than 800 suspected insurgents. The battalion had eleven Marines killed during its time in Iraq and eighty-five wounded. [cite news |url=http://starbulletin.com/2006/10/21/news/story01.html |accessdate=2007-04-28 |title=Comrades share stories and sorrow with families |author=Robert Shikina |date=2006-10-21 |work=The Honolulu Star-Bulletin] On 2006-10-06, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines returned to Kaneohe Bay. [cite news |url=http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/2DFC49ED482193F2852571FC00416373?opendocument |accessdate=2007-04-28 | title='America's Battalion' wraps up six-month Iraq deployment |author=Sgt. Roe F. Seigle |date=2006-10-06 |work=Marine Corps NewsDead link|date=October 2008] The following year, the battalion made its second Iraq deployment, this time to the city of Karmah in eastern Anbar province where they temporarily served under the command of the Regimental Combat Team 6. [cite news |url=http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/ac95bc775efc34c685256ab50049d458/7177a4612a673f9a85257363001e282f?OpenDocument&Highlight=2,karmah |accessdate=2007-10-01 | title='America’s Battalion' continues counterinsurgency ops in Anbar |author=Regimental Combat Team 6 Public Affairs |date=2006-09-27 |work=Marine Corps NewsDead link|date=October 2008] [cite news |url=http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E7CCA9C737C5C368852573AF0047A1D7?opendocument |accessdate=2007-12-12 | title=Garma reopens marketplace |author=Regimental Combat Team 6 Public Affairs |date=2006-12-12 |work=Marine Corps NewsDead link|date=October 2008] In February 2008 the battalion rotated back to the United States. [cite news |url=http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/ac95bc775efc34c685256ab50049d458/bc4883682e7b155c852574040062a09f?OpenDocument&Highlight=2,3/3|accessdate=2008-03-13 | title=Family, friends welcome 3/3 Marines back to K-Bay |author=Lance Cpl. Alesha R. Guard |date=2008-02-07 |work=Marine Corps NewsDead link|date=October 2008]

Unit awards

Since the beginning of World War II, the United States military has honored various units for extraordinary heroism or outstanding non-combat service. This information comes from the official 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines webpage and is certified by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. [cite web |url=http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/honors.htm |accessdate=2007-04-28 |title=3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines Honors Awarded |publisher=3rd Marine Regiment, United States Marine Corps]

"America's Battalion"

According to research by the Marine Corps' History and Museum Division, the name "America's Battalion" originated in the mid-1980s when Lieutenant Colonel Charles Krulak was the battalion's commanding officer. It comes from the nickname "America's Team", which was used by the Dallas Cowboys. Krulak, who was a big Cowboys fan, modified the nickname to apply to 3rd Battalion. According to Krulak, at one point a friend of his sent him a letter addressed to the "Commanding Officer, America's Battalion". With nothing else on the envelope, the United States Postal Service still managed to deliver the letter properly. Krulak commented that "if the U.S. Postal Service recognized 3/3 as 'America's Battalion,' then they certainly must be. So from then on he considered it 'official'." [cite web|url=http://www.mikecompany33.com/americasbattalion.html |accessdate=2006-11-24 |title="America's Battalion" |author=Robert V. Aquilina |publisher=Reference Section, History and Museum Division, United States Marine Corps|date=27 July 2001] 3rd Battalion is one of two battalions to have the nickname "America's Battalion", the other being 2nd Battalion 8th Marines based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.

Notable 3/3 Marines

Among the many decorations for valor and bravery awarded to Marines from 3rd Battalion, four Medals of Honor and over twenty Navy Crosses have been awarded. In 1965, Corporal Robert O'Malley from India Company became the first Marine in the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Two other Marines from 3/3, Robert J. Modrzejewski (1958–1959) and Howard V. Lee (1959–1960), would later be awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam while serving with other units. Captain John Ripley (hero of the bridge at Dong Ha) was in command of Lima Company in 1967, and the company was frequently referred to as "Ripley's Raiders". [cite web |url=http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54880 |title=Honoring the warriors |work=WorldNetDaily |author=Richard Botkin |year=2007|accessdate = 2007-05-02] Oliver North served as a platoon commander in Kilo Company from 1968–1969 [cite interview |url=http://www.cfif.org/htdocs/freedomline/current/in_our_opinion/oliver-north-interview.htm |accessdate=2006-12-09 |title=Oliver North Discusses His Book, ‘War Stories II: Heroism in the Pacific’ |program=Your Turn — Meeting Nonsense with Common Sense |callsign=1330 AM WEBY |city=Florida |subject=Oliver North |date=2005-03-09 |interviewer=Renee Giachino Retrieved on 2006-12-09.] and Frank Tejeda, a Congressman from Texas, was a Kilo NCO for the same period. [cite web |url=http://worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54880 |title=Frank M. Tejeda |work=3/3 Web page |author=Richard Duprel |year=1998|accessdate = 2006-04-25] In more recent years, General Charles Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps served as Battalion Commander from 1983–1985 and is credited with giving 3/3 the nickname "America's Battalion"

ee also

*Organization of the United States Marine Corps



*cite web|url=http://www.mcbh.usmc.mil/3mar/3dbn/3dbn%203dmar.htm |accessdate=2006-03-20
title=Third Marine Regiment - 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines
publisher=United States Marine Corps
(3/3's official website)

*cite web|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/3-3.htm |accessdate=2006-11-22
title=3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines — "America's Battalion"

*cite web|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/3mar.htm |accessdate=2006-11-24
title=3rd Marine Regiment|publisher=GlobalSecurity.org

*cite web|url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/usmc/3mardiv.htm |accessdate=2006-11-24
title=3rd Marine Division

*cite journal | last = Huddleston | first = Craig S | title = Commentary on Desert Shield
journal = Marine Corps Gazette | pages = 32 | publisher = Marine Corps Association
date = 1 January 1991 | url = http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/archives.asp
accessdate = 2006-11-23

*cite book |author=Otto J. Lehrack |title=America’s Battalion: Marines in the First Gulf War |location=Tuscaloosa |publisher=The University of Alabama Press |year=2005

*cite web|url=http://www.mikecompany33.com/index.html |accessdate=2006-11-24
title=Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines
Includes a history of Mike Company during the Vietnam War.

*cite web|url=http://www.ThirdMarines.net |accessdate=2007-02-24
title=The locator site of 3rd Battalion 3rd Marines RVN (Vietnam era)

*cite web|url=http://l33namvets.com/ |accessdate=2007-02-24
title=3rd Marines in Vietnam

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