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3rd Battalion, 6th Marines

Since 1995 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines has routinely deployed to the Mediterranean as a part of Landing Force 6th Fleet. The Regiment continues to support the defense of the Nation by maintaining forces in readiness in support of contingency operations and unit deployments to the Mediterranean, Pacific rim and around the globe.

The Sixth Marines was first organized in Quantico, Virginia on 11 July 1917. In June 1918, the Regiment, together with the Fifth Marines and Sixth Machinegun Battalion launched the famous attack against the German Forces entrenched in Belleau Wood. In recognition of the "Brilliant courage, vigor, spirit, and tenacity of the Marines," the French Government awarded them a citation of the Croix de Guerre with Palms. Late, for heroic action in the Soisson and Champagne Sectors, the Marines were twice cited for their valor in battle. As a result of these actions, the Sixth Marine Regiment was awarded the Fourragere. With the signing of the armistice ending World War I in November 1918, the Sixth Marines continued to serve as part of the Occupational Forces in Germany.

Activated 14 August 1917 at Quantico, Virginia as the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment. Deployed during October-November 1917 to France and assigned to the 4th Brigade, American Expeditionary Force. Participated in the following World War I offensive campaigns: Aisne, Aisne-Marne, St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne. Participated in the following World War I defensive campaigns: Toulon-Troyon, Chateau-Thiery, Marabache, and Limey. Participated in the occupation of the Rhineland, December 1918-July 1919. Returned during July-August 1919 to Quantico, Virginia. Deactivated 20 August 1919.

During World War 1 the Fifth and Sixth Marines fighting in France as the Fourth Marine Brigade of the Army's Second Division were forced to wear the Army's uniform. The Marines had only the eagle, globe, and anchor on their soft covers to distinguish themselves from their Army brothers in arms. As this did not sit well with the Marines, a patch was designed to distinguish them from their counterparts. A black shield with one five-pointed star and an Indian head with full war bonnet was selected. It is said that the black was for mourning and respect for their casualties, the shield for defense, and the star for the Second Division Commander, Brigadier General John A. Lejeune, and the Indian for General Lejeune's nickname "Old Indian." Another source says the patch was derived from a U.S. Coin in circulation at the time.

General Lejeune himself gave a somewhat different history as to the origin of the patch in his 1930 autobiography "The Reminiscences of a Marine." He states; "There was no inferiority complex about the Second Division. We knew that we were second to none, but also that we were better than any! So we adopted the star and Indian head as Division Insignia, the Indian head representing it's fighting ability, and the star it's spirit or espirit de corps. It was, I think, the First Division of the A.E.F. (American Expeditionary Force) to wear insignia." "We carried the idea out, too, to its logical conclusion by providing a different background for each regiment, each Battalion, and each separate detachment."

The Sixth Marine Regiment used the same design in a diamond shape instead of a shield. The color of the background on which the star was placed shows the Battalion: black, Headquarters; green, Supply; purple, Machine-gun Company; red, First battalion; yellow, Second battalion; and blue, Third battalion. The Marines of 3/6 paved their way to the fame during 1918 when they participated in action to repel repeated German attacks in the Battle of Belleau Wood and saved Paris from the invading German Army.

During the 1920's, the Sixth Marines served on expeditionary duties in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and China. Reactivated 14 June 1922 at Quantico, Virginia as the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment and assigned to the 4th Brigade. Participated in Maneuvers at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, June-July 1922 and attached to the Marine Corps Expeditionary Force. Deactivated 10 August 1922 at Quantico, Virginia.

Reactivated 12 June 1924 at Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. Relocated during July 1924 to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Relocated during January 1925 to Quantico, Virginia. Deactivated 1 February 1925.

Reactivated April 1927 at Norfolk, Virginia as the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment and assigned to the provisional regiment. Deployed during April-July 1927 to Tientsiin, China and reassigned to the 3rd Marine Brigade. Redesignated 4 October 1927 as the 1st Battalion, 12 Regiment. Redesignated 22 April 1928 as the 3rd Battalion, 6th Regiment. Relocated during October 1928 to San Diego, California. Deactivated 10 November 1928.

When the U.S. entered World War II in December 1941, the Regiment was deployed to Iceland. On 4 January 1943, it landed on Gaudalcanal. In November 1943, the Regiment received the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions during the invasion of Tarawa. Later, in June 1944, the Regiment landed in the assault on Saipan and subsequently participated in heavy fighting on Tinian and Okinawa.

Reactivated 1 November 1940 as San Diego, California as the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines and assigned to the 2nd Marine Brigade. Deployed during May-July 1941 to Reykjavik, Iceland and reassigned to the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. Returned January-February 1942 to San Diego, California and reassigned to the 2nd Marine Division. Deployed during October-November 1942 to Wellington, New Zealand Participated in the following World War II campaigns: Guadalcanal, Southern Solomons, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa. Relocated during September 1945 to Nagasaki, Japan. Participated in the Occupation of Japan, September 1945 to February 1946.

Relocated during February-March 1946 to Camp Pendleton, California. Deactivated 27 March 1946.

The Regiment returned to the United States and joined the Second Marine Division in 1949. Since that time, it has frequently deployed units to the Mediterranean and Caribbean areas. Reactivated 17 October 1949 on board USS Fremont and assigned to the 2nd Marine Division. Relocated during August 1950 to Camp Pendleton, California. Deactivated 11 September 1950. Reactivated 12 September 1950 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and assigned to the 2nd Marine Division. Deployed at various times as Battalion Landing Team 3/6 in the Mediterranean and Caribbean from April 1952 to 1958.

When trouble erupted in Lebanon in July 1958, the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines landed within fifteen hours after receipt of orders. Early in the Cuban Crsis of October-November 1962, the Second Battalion landed at Guantanamo Bay to supplement the defense of the Naval Base. In 1965, the Regiment landed to protect American lives and property in the Dominican Republic. Participated in the Landings in Lebanon, July-October 1958. Participated in the Cuban missile crisis, October-December 1962. Participated in the intervention in the Dominican Republic, April-May 1965. Participated in reinforcement of naval base, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, October-November 1979.

In 1983, the Second Battalion participated in the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. December 1989 saw elements of the Sixth Marines in Panama for Operation JUST CAUSE. Participated in various training exercises throughout the 1970's, 1980's, and 1990's. Placed under the operational control of the 3rd Marine Division at various periods throughout the 1980's and 1990's for deployment to the Western Pacific. Participated in Operation Just Cause, Panama, December 1989-January 1990. Participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Southwest Asia, December 1990-April 1991. From December 1990 - April 1991, the Regiment was deployed to Southwest Asia in support of operations Desert Shield / Storm, where it conducted the famous breach of Iraqi lines capturing thousands or prisoners and performing with great splendor throughout the operation.

The Marine's journey to the North Arabian Sea began November 11th when they "got the call" to join Camp Pendleton, Calif.'s 15th MEU (SOC) for operations deep into Afghanistan. In nearly no time at all, Brig. Gen. James N. Mattis, a Marine veteran of 32 years and the commander of Combined Task Force 58, had nearly 9,000 Marines and Sailors, including two Marine Expeditionary Units under his command and ready to project American resolve and combat power ashore. In the days leading up to the insertion of U.S. Marines shortly after dusk Sunday night into Afghanistan as 15th MEU (SOC) Marines pushed ashore, 26th MEU (SOC) aircraft performed successful bombing runs on Taliban convoys and provided close air support for 15th MEU (SOC)'s operations ashore.

Marine Task Force-58 rolled into the former Taliban stronghold securing the city?s airport on December 13, 2001. Light Armored Vehicles and Combined Anti-Armored Teams from the 15th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units (Special Operations Capable) launched from Marine Forward Operating Base Camp Rhino traveling over rugged, desert terrain for almost two weeks before reaching the city. An infantry company was inserted by CH-53E Super Stallions and immediately scoured the runway and its taxiways for countless pieces of shrapnel - some as minute as a pennies and others as large as station wagon bumpers.

Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable)'s Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAAT) were one of the first units to deploy from the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, a collection of US Navy warships deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The CAAT platoon is comprised of more than 40 combat-trained, infantry Marines who ride in 14 High Mobility, Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs) equipped with either a M2 .50-caliber machinegun or a MK19 automatic grenade launcher. There are eight Marines in a team, spread across two HMMWVs, and all are armed with either an M16A2 service rifle or M9 9mm service pistol. They also have AT-4 Rockets (shoulder-fired, anti-armor weapons) and various other illumination and signaling pyrotechnics at their disposal. CAAT deployed ashore 19 November 2001 to augment the 15th MEU (SOC) at Camp Rhino, an expeditionary desert forward operating base in southern Afghanistan. In addition to patrols, they were tasked to recover a couple of the 15th MEU (SOC)'s reconnaissance vehicles that had become disabled while on patrol. Having proven itself a combat multiplier, the CAAT platoon was given a critical mission of recovering downed aviators.

Lima Company was involved in a joint service operation with US Navy SEALs. The SEALs and Marines had the mission to exploit numerous caves in the area near Khowst, one of the last remaining Taliban and Al-Qaeda strongholds and training bases. The Marines and SEALs found several small and large caches of weapons and munitions. After logging the caches' GPS coordinates, they orchestrated the drop of over 200 bombs over the course of more than a week, effectively collapsing the cave networks in the desert terrain there. Initially, the Marines' mission was to provide local security, but it quickly escalated into something much more. Every night, Lima Company sent out fire-team or squad-sized patrols led by a Marine corporal or sergeant.

Using Marines - first from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit at Camp Rhino and then from the 26th MEU - at Kandahar airfield was unique. MEUs usually operate less than 200 nautical miles from where their ships wait off shore. In Afghanistan they had been inland 460 nautical miles, roughly 500 air miles. The 26th MEU is also special operations capable. The Marines worked with other Special Operations Command forces throughout the country, particularly the Khost region where teams fought determined pockets of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.

The 26th MEU, based out of Camp LeJeune, N.C., was deployed for about five months - almost half of that in Afghanistan - and was due back 18 March 2002. Most units are gone six months. Nearly two months of combat operations during Operation Enduring Freedom came to an end 08 February 2002 as the Marines and Sailors of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) completed their back load onto the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) after having completed one of the most historic missions in recent Marine Corps' history in southern Afghanistan.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:18:09 ZULU