1st Battalion, 3rd Marines
1st Battalion, 3d Marines has made its place in the history of the United States Marine Corps and is ready for action whenever the nation calls. Whether it is serving as a quick reaction force on the island of Oahu, or combating terrorism in the Philippines and throughout the world, 1/3 is the tip of the spear and battle ready.
On May 1st, 1942 the 1st Training Battalion was activated at New River, North Carolina. A month and a half later, on the 17th of June, the unit was redesignated as the 1st Battalion of the 3d Marine Regiment. After completing a rigorous training program at New River, the battalion set sail for the South Pacific and conducted amphibious operations training in American Samoa, Guadalcanal, and New Zealand. 1st Battalion, 3d Marines received its baptismal into combat in November of 1943 against the Japanese on the Island of Bougainville. The Japanese were a formidable foe with the fighting complicated by deep swamps and dense jungles. The battalion fought with distinction for nearly two months before being sent to Guadalcanal to prepare for the next leg of the Pacific Island Hopping Campaign.
Guam was the next combat assignment for 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. The amphibious assault began on the 21st of July 1944. Shortly after their landing, the battalion took heavy casualties. Once again, the battalion encountered a tenacious enemy and the fighting on the proved to be both bloody and costly. Organized resistance officially ended on the 10 of August and the Guam was declared "secured". However, numerous Japanese remained at large in the jungle refusing to surrender. Subsequently, the battalion participated in "mopping-up" operation through the latter part of October.
In early 1945, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines embarked for its next mission. The battalion, as part of Regimental Combat Team 3, was to be the floating reserve for the amphibious assault on the Island of Iwo Jima. The battalion, however, was never called upon to land or to take part in the battle for Iwo Jima. Instead it returned to Guam in March where it continued to remove the small pockets of Japanese resistance that still remained on the island.
The battalion remained on Guam through the surrender of the Japanese in September of 1945. Although the end of the war signified the end of hostilities, there was still much work to be done. The Islands in the Pacific held by the Japanese had to be demilitarized and the Japanese forces repatriated to mainland Japan, this job fell to 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, soon to be known as the "Chichi Jima" Marines. Chichi Jima was an Island fortress, often referred to as the Gibraltar of the Pacific, located in the Ogasawara Island chain 615 miles south of Tokyo. After 14 years of war in China and the Pacific, Japan had arrived at a mortifying surrender. At exactly 1015 on December 13, 1945 the Japanese flag flying over Chici Jima was lowered from its staff. The Japanese Color Guard folded the flag and presented it to the Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. At 1025, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps sounded Colors and everyone present, American and Japanese alike, rendered a salute as Old Glory was raised to her lofty summit. With the Japanese threat removed from Chichi Jima, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines returned to Guam where it was deactivated on the 9th of February 1946.
The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 found the Marine Corps woefully equipped and under strength. Several units deactivated at the end of the Second World War were quickly reactivated, and on 10 July 1951, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines was reactivated at Camp Pendleton, California. The battalion readied itself for war on the Korean Peninsula and embarked for the Far East in the summer of 1953. However, by the time it set sail in August, an armistice had been signed ending the fighting. Despite this fact, 1/3 deployed to Japan where it became a garrison force. Its permanent home was changed in March 1957 when it was moved to Okinawa. While stationed in the Far East the battalion engaged in numerous training exercises in Japan, the Philippines and Korea.
After six years in the Far East, the battalion was ordered back to the United States. 1st Battalion, 3d Marines set sail for San Diego on 4 September 1959 as part of a battalion transplacement program. Following its arrival at San Diego, the battalion moved to Camp Pendleton where it was assigned to the 1st Marine Division. On 25 October 1959, the battalion was attached to the 5th Marine Regiment with its official designation of 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. This lasted for over a year. The designation was dropped on 31 December 1960. The next day, 1/3 was reestablished back on Okinawa as part of the 3d Marine Division.
The American Government, by 1965, had decided that it was necessary to increase its efforts in meeting Communist aggression in the Republic of Vietnam. Accordingly, American ground forces were ordered to the war-torn country. 1st Battalion, 3d Marines became the second American infantry unit to enter South Vietnam. The battalion began its movement, via air, to Da Nang in early March 1965 and completed its movement by mid-March. Less than six months after its arrival, 1/3 was withdrawn to Okinawa. The battalion was sent back to Vietnam on 18 November 1965.
While in Vietnam, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines participated in operations such as MALLARD (January 1966), HASTINGS (Summer 1966), PRAIRIE (Fall 1966-Spring 1967), HICKORY (May and July 1967), KENTUCKY (Fall 1967), and OSCEOLA (Winter 1968). The 1968 Tet Offensive ushered in a new wave of intense combat activity for the Marines and in May 1/3 found itself heavily engaged in fighting North Vietnamese units at the village of Dai Do near the Cua Viet River.
In 1969 the United States began a slowly withdrawing combat units from Southeast Asia. One of the first Marine units to be notified to commence stand down operations was 1st Battalion, 3d Marines. The unit departed South Vietnam for the United States on 5 October 1969. Towards the end of the month the battalion arrived in California and was located at again at Camp Pendleton. Shortly thereafter, it was reduced to zero strength, effective 18 November 1969. It then was reestablished at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii as part of the 1st Marine Brigade on 27 November 1969.
The battalion participated in numerous exercises throughout the Western Pacific during the 1970's and 1980's. Then in September 1990, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines deployed to Saudi Arabia and participated in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm and the Liberation of Kuwait. The battalion was deployed to Southwest Asia from September 1990 to April 1991 at which time 1st Battalion, 3d Marines returned to Kaneohe Bay.
After returning from Southwest Asia, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines resumed its position as a 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) Unit Deployment Program battalion. Since then, 1/3 has participated in numerous deployments to Okinawa, and conducted several training exercises at the Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island of Hawaii, the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, and in Australia. From May 1991 to August 1994, the Battalion practiced a rigorous training regiment in order to maintain its combat readiness. In September 1994, 1st MEB was deactivated and 1/3 was reassigned to the 3d Marine Division. Throughout the 1990's, 1/3 participated in numerous exercises including: Joint Task Force Garden Isle (Hurricane Iniki Relief), Kauai, Sep 92; JTF Restore Hope, Somalia, Dec 92; Exercise Balikatan, Republic of the Philippines, Nov 93; Exercise RIMPAC, Hawaii, Jun 94; Exercise Cobra Gold, Thailand, May 95, World War II Commemoration Ceremony, Oahu, Sep 95, Exercise Gold Eagle (Australian Exchange), May 94 and Feb 96; Exercise Foal Eagle, Republic of Korea, Oct 96; JTF Pacific Haven, Guam, Dec 96 and most recently Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines.
For the first time since 1995, U.S. servicemembers headed to the Republic of the Philippines for a combined/joint exercise known as Balikatan, a Tagalog term meaning "shoulder the load together." Marines with the ground side on Okinawa, Japan, left 11 February 2000 on the USS Fort McHenry to begin their journey to the exercise. Units from Okinawa supporting the effort included 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, deployed as part of the Unit Deployment Program from Hawaii; 5th Force Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division; Combat Service Support Detachment-35, Marine Air Ground Task Force-4; 4th Marine Regiment headquarters; Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-369 and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-462, both UDP from Camp Pendleton, Calif.; and Combat Assault Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment. The MAGTF deployed to the Philippines to conduct bilateral and joint training and improve Republic of the Philippines and United States combined planning, combat readiness and interoperability. More than 2,000 U.S. servicemembers worked with their Filipino counterparts in cross training, humanitarian and civic assistance efforts throughout Luzon and Palawan.
1/3 continued into the 21st century training for any mission or contingency they may be called upon for. After the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, 1/3 took an immediate role in defense of the nation at home and over-seas. Operation Enduring Freedom saw 1/3 Marines actively participating in providing force-protection reinforcements to numerous bases on the island of Okinawa and providing security in the Persian Gulf for Military Sealift Command ships. Operation Enduring Freedom also saw Marines from 1/3 in the Philippines providing road construction and base camp security for the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion, 1st and 4th Airdets, U.S Navy Sea Bees and the 9th Engineering Support Battalion on Basilan Island. Base camp security was conducted at Camp Hurricane, Camp Austin, Camp Texas and Camp Alaska while work site security missions took place at numerous towns and villages in the Maluso, Sumisip and Tipo Tipo regions of the island.
In 2004 the battalion deployed to Camp Owen, Fallujah, Iraq.
Sgt. Rafael Peralta, 25, was a platoon scout, which meant he could have stayed back in safety while the squads of 1st Platoon went into the danger filled streets, but he was constantly asking to help out by giving them an extra Marine. He frequently put his safety, reputation and career on the line for the needs and morale of the junior Marines around him. A Mexican-American who lived in San Diego, Peralta earned his citizenship after he joined the Marine Corps. In November 2004, in an act living up to the heroes of the Marine Corps' past, such as Medal of Honor recipients Pfc. James LaBelle and Lance Cpl. Richard Anderson, Peralta - in his last fleeting moments of consciousness- reached out and pulled the grenade into his body. LaBelle fought on Iwo Jima and Anderson in Vietnam, both died saving their fellow Marines by smothering the blast of enemy grenades. His selflessness left four other Marines with only minor injuries from smaller fragments of the grenade.
The Hawaii-based Marine unit that lost 26 Marines and one sailor from the 26 January 2005 helicopter crash that killed 31 troops in Iraq. Despite the crash, the cause of which was investigated, the battalion's Marines in Iraq remain busy doing their jobs two days before the Jan. 30 Iraqi elections. It was the single biggest loss of life in any one day since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The fallen Marines were assigned to Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 31st MEU and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. The unit was traveling to help secure safe polling stations in the small town of Ak Ashat, in the western region of the Al Anbar province when their helicopter crashed.
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