1st Marine Regiment
The 1st Marine Regiment consists of one headquarters company and four infantry battalions, one of which is deployed outside the continental United States at all times. Of these 1st Marine Division battalions, two are deployed with the III Marine Expeditionary Force 's 4th Marines under the Unit Deployment Program at Camp Schwab on Okinawa, and the other two are deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Hansen. The infantry battalions are the basic tactical units that the regiment accomplishes its mission of locating, closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and close combat. The 1st Regiment is located in the Horno (53) Area.
The First Marines, one of the most illustrious Regiments in the Marine Corps, was originally activated at Philadelphia on 27 November 1913. At this time it bore the designation of 2d Advance Base Regiment. On I July 1916, this organization was redesignated as the 1st Regiment of Marines. During the early years of its existence, the Regiment was primarily employed as a combat force in the so-called "Banana Wars", in the Caribbean area. The first of these engagements occurred in April 1914 when the Regiment, along with other Navy and Marine Units, landed and seized the Mexican port of Vera Cruz. The Regiment next participated in the Haitian campaign (1915-1916) and the Dominican Republic campaign (1916). In December 1918, the 1st Regiment returned to the Caribbean and was deployed to Cuba for approximately six months. It was a garrison force from August 1922 until July 1924.
Following its second Dominican tour of duty it was deactivated, but was subsequently reactivated at Quantico, Virginia on 15 March 1925. The Regiment received its present designation of 1st Marines on 10 July 1930. The decade of the 1930's was a period of inactivity in the 1st Marines' history, as the unit was in a deactivated status during most of this time. World War II was the occasion for the next reactivation of the Regiment. On I February 1941, it was brought back into existence at Culebra, Puerto Rico as part of the 1st Marine Division. After the entrance of the United States in the War, the Regiment moved to the West Coast and the South Pacific. The 1st Marines' initial operation of the war was its part in ousting of the Japanese from Guadalcanal. In the first American land offensive, the Regiment saw action against Japanese from August until December 1942. The next major encounter with the enemy came during the New Britain campaign which began in December 1943. This was followed by the bloody battle for the island of Peleliu. The last World War II engagement for the Regiment was the Okinawa Campaign. From 1 April until 22 June 1945, the Regiment participated in the bitter fighting that led to capture of this strategic island.
In September 1945, the 1st Marines deployed to North China to take part in the garrisoning of the area and in the repatriation of former enemy personnel. It remained in China until February 1949 when it was withdrawn to the United States. After a few months at Camp Pendleton, California, 1st Marines was deactivated on 1 October. The deactivation, however, was only temporary.
The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 resuscitated the buildup of the Marine Corps. As a result, the Regiment was brought back into existence on 4 August 1950. It immediately prepared to enter the conflict. On 15 September, the 1st Marine Division, including the 1st Marines, assaulted the beaches of Inchon.
The Regiment then went on to take part in the liberation of Seoul and later in the noted Chosin Reservoir Campaign. For the next two and one-half years, the 1st Marines continued to engage the North Koreans and Chinese Communists. Following the termination of hostilities in July 1953, the Regiment remained in Korea and acted as a defensive force against possible Communist attempts to rekindle the war. The 1st Marines returned to Camp Pendleton in April 1955. There it stayed for the following ten years except for a brief deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and the Caribbean during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
With the intensification of the American involvement in the war in Vietnam in 1965, the Regiment was ordered to the Far East that summer. Elements of the Regiment began arriving in the Republic of Vietnam in August. Those units not deployed in the combat zone were located on Okinawa; however, by January 1966 the entire Regiment had completed its move to the embattled nation. The first major operation in the war for a battalion of the 1st Marines was Harvest Moon in December 1965. In the succeeding months, the Regiment's battalions participated in such operations as Utah, Iowa, Cheyenne I and II, and Double Eagle. Operation Hastings in July 1966 witnessed the most ferocious fighting of the war up to that time.
By fall of 1967, the 1st Marines were operating permanently in the northern sector of the I Corps tactical zone. The following winter the communists launched their all-out Tet Offensive. Hue, the old imperial capital, was overrun by the enemy. Between 31 January and 2 March 1968, elements of the 1st Marines, along with other U.S. Marine and South Vietnamese units, fought to regain control of the city. The battle was characterized by bitter street fighting and hand-to-hand combat. Hue, however, was finally recaptured after the enemy suffered nearly 1,900 killed. Heavy fighting continued for the Regiment through the rest of the year and culminated in Operation Meade River which netted nearly 850 enemy killed. The Regiment remained deployed in South Vietnam for the next two and a half years, participating in numerous operations, both large and small. In 1971, the Regiment was ordered back to the United States at Camp Pendleton. The 1st Marines were the last Marine infantry unit to depart Vietnam.
In the spring of 1975, the 1st Marines provided primary support to the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton for preparation of a camp to house Vietnamese refugees during Operation New Arrivals. In 1983 the Commandant approved the transfer of responsibility of sourcing WESTPAC MAU from the 1st Marine Brigade, Hawaii to the West Coast. Attendant to this transfer, in 1984 and 1985 respectively, the I I th and 13th MAU's were activated, and First Marines was assigned responsibility to provide the Ground Combat Element.
In April 1985, BLT 3/1 deployed with the 11th MAU to initiate the program. During 1986, the First Marines was tasked to provide the Ground Combat Element of a Special Operations Capable MAU. BLT 1/9 commenced that training and deployed in June 1987. Since the inception of the Special Operations Capable (SOC) Marine Expeditionary Unit's (MEU's) in support of contingency operations in the Western Pacific, the First Marine Regiment has been the SOC Regiment of the First Marine Division.
In August 1990 the training and operation cycle of the Regiment was interrupted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. BLT 1/4, already deployed, was re-routed to the Persian Gulf from the Western Pacific. BLT 3/1 accelerated its training cycle and deployed as part of the Fifth Marine Expeditionary Brigade enroute to Southwest Asia. On 21 December the Regimental Staff and the Headquarters Company departed in January 1991. On 30 December 1990, First Marines was designated as Task Force Papa Bear and was comprised of First Battalion, First Marines; First Tank Battalion, Third Battalion, Ninth Marines; and various attachments on 30 December 1990. The Task Force attacked into Kuwait on 23 February and continued its march to the vicinity of Kuwait International Airport where hostilities ceased on 27 February. The Regimental Headquarters and the First Battalion returned to the United States in April 1991. The First Regiment continues to support the forwarded deployed MAGTFs in the MEU(SOC) deployment cycle.
From 1 to 11 May 1992, elements of the Regimental Headquarters Company and Third Battalion, First Marines rapidly mobilized and deployed to perform riot control operations as part of the Joint Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Los Angeles. Working closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, the command assumed a prominent role in quelling the urban unrest in South Central Los Angeles.
In September of 1992, BLT 1/4 entered Mogadishu, Somalia, for Operation Restore Hope to provide humanitarian relief and establish law and order. Since that time, the Battalions of 1st Marines returned several times to aid the embattled nation. In September 1994, BLT 1/4 returned to Mogadishu for the relocation of the United States' Liaison Office and BLT 3/1 entered the city in February 1995 for the final withdrawal of United Nations' forces.
At approximately 2:30 a.m. on 23 August 2004, the Iraqi Specialized Special Forces led a search into a Ramadi mosque after receiving fire while conducting a patrol. The search of the mosque was not part of the original operation, nor was it considered a threat until gunmen opened fire on the SSF and US Forces on the street outside. Two gunmen who fired their weapons from a vehicle just outside the mosque were killed by the SSF and US Forces. Inside the mosque the SSF and Iraqi National Guard Commandos found mines, mortar rounds, Ak-47 rifles and RPK machine guns, as well as terrorist propaganda. ISSF, alongside US Army soldiers and Marines with the 1st Brigade Combat Team, under the 1st Marine Division, were conducting Operation True Grit in the city of Ramadi, in an area reported to have increased insurgent activity. The operation was designed to disrupt those activities, and was a huge success. ING Commandos and Iraqi Police also assisted in Operation True Grit. During the operation, Multi-National Forces and SSF searched several houses and 17 insurgents were detained, four of which were found setting up an ambush on top of one of the houses.
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