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3rd Battalion, 1st Marines

The "Thundering Third" Third Battalion, First Marines, was activated on March 1, 1941 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and subsequently assigned to the 1st Marine Division. The 3rd Battalion relocated during April, 1941 to Parris Island, SC. It deactivated 18 June 1941 and reactivated 16 February 1942 at New River, NC. The 3rd Battalion deployed during June - July 1942 to Wellington, New Zealand. Deployed to the Pacific Theater, it participated in the campaigns for Guadalcanal, New Britain, Eastern New Guinea, Peleliu, and Okinawa. After World War II, Marines of 3/1 participated in the occupation of Northern China. The Battalion was deactivated on April 15, 1946 at Tientsin, China.

With the outbreak of the Korean Conflict in June 1950, there was a need for the "Thundering Third" to reactivate. This was accomplished in August 1950 at Camp Pendleton, California. The Battalion deployed to Kobe, Japan during September 1950 and from there was sent to Korea where it participated in the amphibious landing at Inchon with further operations near Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir, and along the Western Front. After two years of negotiations, an armistice was signed and the fighting in Korea ended June 17, 1953. Although the Marines were relieved of further combat responsibilities, the Battalion remained in Korea with 1st Marine Division to participate in the defense of the Korean demilitarized zone.

In April 1955, the Battalion returned to Camp Pendleton. Marines of 3/1 were part of the contingency force called out during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. The Battalion returned home to Camp Pendleton in November 1962 and remained stateside until September 1965 when in deployed to to Camp Schwab, Okinawa.

Third Battalion, First Marines deployed during January 1966 to the Republic of Vietnam. The 3rd Battalion participated in the war in Vietnam, January, 1966 - May 1971, operating from: Chu Lai Da Nang; Hoa Vang; Ca Lu Combat Base; Cua Viet; Go Noi and the DMZ. It participated in action until May 1971 when it returned once again to Camp Pendleton.

The 3rd Battalion was designated as Battalion Landing Team 3/1, and deployed to Okinawa for training exercises at various periods during the early 1980's. During the past several years, the Battalion has participated in numerous training exercises to include deployments to the mountains, deserts, and throughout the Pacific basin. Third Battalion, First Marines deployed to Southwest Asia in December 1990 as part of Regimental Landing Team 5. The Battalion took part in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, going ashore by helicopter and landing craft at Ra Al Mishab, Kuwait in support of the 2nd Marine Division.

The Battalion deployed as the ground combat element for the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and went ashore in Mogadishu, Somalia to aid in the UNOSOM withdrawal from the country during Operation UNITED SHIELD.

Honors bestowed upon Third Battalion, First Marines include nine awards of the Presidential Unit Citation, two Navy Unit Commendations, two Meritorious Unit Citations, two awards of the American Defense Service Streamer, seven Asiatic/ Pacific Campaign streamers, the World War II Victory Streamer, eleven awards of the Korean Service Streamer, the Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer, thirteen awards of the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and the Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Action Streamer.

The battalion known as the Thundering Third came down hard on enemy safehavens around Fallujah in their to-date largest operation alongside Iraqi forces in late August 2004. 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, alongside Iraqi Specialized Special Forces, conducted Operation Clean Sweep Aug. 23-24 in areas east of Fallujah. The operation was designed to hinder enemy movement to and from the city and eliminate any possible safe havens in the vicinity. "We're basically sweeping rural open areas because we're suspecting terrorists are transporting and selling weapons, shooting mortars and attacking our firm bases," explained Sgt. Edgar O. Payan, a platoon guide with Company K. "Terrorists are moving through areas like crop fields as they come and go out of Fallujah, so we're hoping we nab some suspects and find their weapons," added Payan, a 25-year-old from Pomona, Calif. The 48-hour operation kicked off in the early hours of Aug. 23. By the end of the first day, Marines had arrested two suspects for stowing munitions in their homes. Clean Sweep not only called for Marines to search homes for weapons, but to walk the land around the target areas, looking for anything out of the ordinary. The Marines were especially on the lookout for materials used to create improvised explosive devices.

On 04 October 2005 the 2nd Marine Division launched Operation Bawwabatu Annaher (River Gate) in the cities of Haditha, Haqlaniyah and Barwana. Approximately 2,500 Marines, Soldiers and Sailors from Regimental Combat Team - 2 and Iraqi Security Force soldiers are participating in the operation, making it the largest operation in the Al Anbar province in 2005. The operation's goal was to deny Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) the ability to operate in the three Euphrates River Valley cities and to free the local citizens from the insurgents' campaign of murder and intimidation of innocent women, children and men.

Haditha is an important crossroads for AQI's smuggling activities from the Syrian border. Once in Haditha, smugglers can go north to Mosul or continue on to Ar Ramadi, Fallujah or Baghdad. The city is home to approximately 75,000 Iraqis, a vital hydro-electric power plant, and 28 schools. Coalition and Iraqi Forces located in western Al Anbar province had seen a recent increase of AQI violence in Haditha. In Spring 2005, insurgents attacked Haditha General Hospital, the largest in western Al Anbar, with a suicide car bomb, destroying more than half of the building with the explosion and ensuing fire. Insurgents also established fortified firing positions inside the hospital and used patients and staff as human shields as they attacked Marines from the hospital and later retreated from the Marine counterattack.

The commander of Iraqi ground forces met with the Iraqi troops and leaders of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, at Haditha on 12 October 2005 to discuss joint successes during Operation River Gate. Lieutenant Gen. Abdul Qader, the commander of all Iraqi infantry forces, stepped off a helicopter in the city of Haditha with a mission to talk with leaders and spend time with troops in the area. After arriving, he met with Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, and other Marine leaders to talk about the recent operation and other issues within the city. Qader's biggest concern was how the people dealt with having the Marines inside the city. The Iraqi commander learned of the many successes the Iraqi soldiers had had while working with Marines during the recent operation. The commander was briefed on their success in everything from finding weapons caches to detaining suspected insurgent operatives. Being successful in places like Haditha was not a new thing for many of the Iraqi soldiers stationed there. Most of them fought alongside the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines in Fallujah.

As of mid-October 2005 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion was located in Haditha in support of 3rd Battalion 1st Marines and Operation River Gate. The Marines were conducting combat operations and patrols, sweeping through the city of Haditha searching for weapons cashes and mines. During this operation 3rd platoon discovered two major weapons cashes, one located at a Mosque. This cashe consisted of finding drums filled with RPG's, AK-47's, and 7.62. Rounds. On another sweep they discovered an IED that consisted of a yellow propane tank with det cord and ten 37mm rounds. The IED could not be blown in the town; it had to be transported outside city limits to be detonated. 3rd Platoon also supported the elections / Operation Liberty Express with the planning and construction of poll sights throughout the city of Haditha. The polling sights consist of hardening of current buildings / structures within the city utilizing sandbags and HESKO. They have also planned and supervised the construction of three firm bases in Haditha, Brawana, and Haqlaniyah.

The images and testimonials taken by an Iraqi journalism student refuted the report of commanders of the US occupation that the Marines were targeted in an explosive device attack in the Subhani neighborhood in Haditha. A US military statement said that an ambush of an Iraqi-US patrol killed 15 civilians, eight gunmen and one US Soldier. Survivors said that the blast, which killed one Soldier and destroyed a military vehicle, enraged the other Marines, who began firing at four brothers who were in a car on the road. They then raided two residences near the scene of the explosion and opened fire on men, women and children. That the Marines committed the acts was supported by Time magazine's report that the walls around the homes at the scene of the crime had no bullet holes, which meant that the Marines aimed directly at their victims with.intent to kill and that the death of these 15 civilians did not result from clashes between the two sides. Given this evidence the US military acknowledged the possibility that the victims were massacred by US Marines. Lieutenant General Peter Chiarelli announced that 12 Marines who were involved in the incident had been placed under investigation.

On 17 March 2006 the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq directed further investigation into events surrounding a Nov. 19 insurgent attack in Haditha, Iraq. Reporters brought allegations of potential misconduct to the attention of US officials. Chiarelli initiated a preliminary investigation 14 February 2006 when allegations of possible violations of the rules of engagement were brought up.

On 26 May 2006 reports by The New York Times and The Associated Press said an investigation into the deaths of at least 15 Iraqi civilians in an incident in November 2005 was expected to conclude that US Marines killed the people. The investigation was moving toward a conclusion that a small group of Marines killed the civilians without justification. The New York Times reported that the ongoing military investigation contradicts Marine claims that 15 civilians were killed by a roadside bomb and in an ensuing gun battle with insurgents.

In the incident on 19 November 2005 in the Iraqi town of Haditha, a Marine was killed by a roadside bomb. The multinational command initially reported that the civilians had been killed in the same explosion. Later, the military said the civilians died in the crossfire of a gun battle between the Marines and insurgents. But local residents charged that the Marines killed the civilians while searching the area to try to find the terrorists who planted the bomb. And some reports put the number of civilian dead at as many as 24, rather than the 15 the military has reported.




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