8th Tank Battalion
8th Tank Battalion is one of two tank battalions within the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. It's a "Separate Battalion" within the 4th Marine Division and may be assigned to any of the Division's three infantry regiments, depending on the degree of armor support required to accomplish the mission. It may also be used in part or in whole to augment/reinforce the active components, dependent upon support required.
The Battalion is spread over six separate locations throughout the eastern portion of the United States. The Headquarters and Service Company is located in Rochester, New York.
The mission of the 8th Tank Battalion is to provide combat power to the Marine Division in the amphibious and subsequent operations ashore, utilizing maneuver, armor protected firepower, and shock action to disrupt, disorganize, and destroy the enemy, his command and control, communications and logistics.
The Battalion had its beginning in the fall of 1949. Its original designation was the 10th Tank Battalion. At the time, the unit met at the old Amboy Airport, outside Syracuse, NY. The tank that the Marines worked with was the old M4A3E8. It weighed 32 tons, less than one-half the weight of the present MlAl.
Several members of the unit had their second tour of combat duty during the Korean Conflict when the unit was called up. About 520 Marines were mobilized in August 1950. After traveling to the West Coast by train the men were assigned to various units that were forming up for overseas duty. By 1952, most of the unit had been released from active duty and returned to the Syracuse area. In March of that year, the unit was reactivated as the 2d Tank Battalion USMCR. Drills were held at the New York State fairgrounds for a short time, then the unit moved to Mattydale, NY, adjacent to Hancock Field.
After the reorganization the unit was equipped with the M47 and M48AI tanks. Both mounted the 90nim gun and were the forenames of the M48A3 in use until August 1967. At that time, the M103A2(120mm) tank was assigned for use in training. Although it carried a larger main gun than the M48A2, it had basically the same operating characteristics, and the Marines readily adapted.
In July 1962, the 2d Tank Battalion USMCR, was redesignated as Bravo and Delta Companies, 4th Tank Battalion USMCR.
The level of training steadily increased and in 1964 the unit successfully completed its first extended overland movement from Syracuse, NY, to Army Base, Camp Drum, NY; a distance of 80 miles. At the time, this was believed to be the longest road march completed by Marine tanks in the Continental United States (CONUS).
The designation of the unit was changed in June 1967. That time the unit became H&S Company and Company B of the 8th Tank Battalion, Force Troops.
During the 1970's, the 8th Tank Battalion was rounded out by the addition of Company A in Rome, GA (now in Fort Knox, KY); Company C in Tallahassee, FL; and Company D in Columbia, SC (now Eastover, SC). Additionally, AT(TOW) Company in Miami, FL, was activated October 1, 1978. Anti-Tank(TOW) Company has been recently reorganized to an Anti-Tank(TOW) and Scout Platoon.
The 1980's represented a period of company and battalion training exercises in preparation for the mobilization mission in support of the 4th Marine Division.
On November 26, 1990, the 8th Tank Battalion was mobilized in its entirety and deployed to Camp Lejeune, NC, for completion of its activation and for further deployment to Southwest Asia on December 21, 1990.
During Desert Shield/Storm, the Battalion participated as a maneuver element of the 2d Marine Division while providing company augmentation to the battalions' of the 6th and 8th Marine Regiments.
The 8th Tank Battalion returned to CONUS and was demobilized in March of 1991, The years l991 through mid-1996 found the Battalion retrog rating its M60A1 tanks, undergoing new equipment training and receiving a partial training allowance of interim M1A1 tanks. A trying period indeed, the Battalion continued to hone its war fighting skills, although training with a significantly decreased training allowance.
In August 1995, the Battalion retrograded its interim M1Al's, and in September and October 1995 received four improved M1A1 tanks at each site. In June and July of 1996, the formal shipment of MlAl Common tanks arrived at each site, bringing the Battalion to its current, full strength of 32 M1A1'S.
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