Since 1942, the Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines have fought their way through the Pacific, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. From now on, the “Island Warriors” will wear their colors on Friday.
The unit is “one of the finest and most legendary battalions currently in the Marine Corps,” Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force, wrote in a recent memo.
Among the battalion’s many accomplishments, Bierman credited the Island Warriors with breaking the back of the enemy insurgency during its deployment to western Iraq from September 2006 to April 2007. During this time, Sunni leaders are associated with US troops to fight al-Qaeda terrorists in one move. known as the “Anbar Awakening”. Their victory proved to be the turning of the tide in the Iraq war.
“We are all US Marines first and foremost, but it’s always hard to say goodbye to a unit that has so completely defined the experience of being a Marine,” Bierman wrote. “Take comfort in the fact that the proud, positive memories and strong relationships will endure.”
After standing in 1942 in New River, North Carolina, the Island Warriors landed on the beaches of Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima., Japan. Pfc. Leonard F. Mason served with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines in Guam and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for single-handedly downing two Japanese machine guns.
“On his own initiative, Mason emerged from the ravine, moved parallel to it and to the rear of the Japanese positions and cleared them despite repeated wounds from rifle and machine gun fire,” according to an official story. of the 3rd Marine Regiment. “He killed five enemies and wounded another before joining his platoon to report the results of his action. Mason then let himself be evacuated, but he then succumbed to his injuries.
Twenty years later, the battalion deployed to Vietnam. Retired Marine Gen. James Jones, who served as commandant of the Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003, was both a platoon and company commander for the Island Warriors in 1967 and 1968.
Another well-known marine from the battalion is Pfc. James Anderson, who had just turned 20 when his patrol was ambushed on February 28, 1967. Anderson saved his fellow Marines during the battle by firing an enemy grenade into his chest and using his body to absorb the blast . For giving his life to save others, Anderson was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, making him the first Black Marine to receive the military’s highest honor for bravery.
Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Maines then took part in some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War in the spring of 1967. A total of 168 Marines from various units were killed and another was wounded in April and May of this year, Marine Corps reservist Rod Andrew wrote in “Hill Fights: The First Battle of Khe Sanh 1967.”
This battle helped spur Congress to look into the problems with the M-16 rifle after so many Marines reported that the weapons had jammed in combat, costing lives. A Marine wrote in a letter that a lawmaker read aloud in May 1967: “Virtually every one of our dead was found with his rifle demolished beside him, where he had tried to repair it.
In 1971, the Island Warriors moved to their current home of Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. Since then, the battalion has taken part in the Persian Gulf War as well as operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The last combat deployment of the Island Warriors was in Nawa District, Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011, during which one of the battalion companies was sent to northwest Marjah. A battalion police mentoring team was also deployed to Sangin under the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.
Now the battalion is deactivated as part of Marine Corps Commander Gen. David Berger’s plan to transform the corps by 2030, said Capt. Kevin J. Smith, spokesman for the 3rd Marine Division. Marine. According to the plan, the 3rd Marine Regiment is being reorganized into the 3rd Marine Regiment Littoral, which will join forces with the Navy to fight again in the Pacific, if necessary.
Lt. Gen. Bierman noted that while the battalion colors are being crated, that may not be the end of the story for the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.
“The battalion was first deactivated in 1945, to resume duty six years later for more than seven decades of honorable and faithful service,” Bierman wrote. “If at some time in the future the Corps and Nation call again, the proud colors and streamers of 2/3 will once again be uncased.”
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