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Marine Expeditionary Force – 2014 Highlights

Contains highlights from exercises during 2014 and is not limited to exercises like Steel Knight, Valiant Mark, Dawn Blitz, Koru Kiwi, Large Scale Exercise and Pacific Horizon.

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The Battle of Peleliu

The fall of Japan’s first line of defense in New Guinea, the Marshalls and the Marianas allowed the Allies to move on to strongholds in Japan’s second defensive line. The Palau Islands were stepping stones in Army General Douglas MacArthur’s plan to invade the Philippines. While it is still debated whether the capture of the Palaus was necessary to protect Gen MacArthur’s flank, the battle of Peleliu was one of the toughest to be fought during the entire Pacific war.

The Commanders

On 10 May 1944, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet/Pacific Ocean Areas, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, issued the first planning orders for the assault on the Palau Islands of Peleliu and Angaur. Peleliu would be the primary target of the operation, which was code-named Stalemate II. The U.S. commanders of the campaign were assigned as follows:

–Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson, USN, commanded the Third Amphibious Force.

–Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC, commanded the III Amphibious Corps, comprised of ground troops from the 1st Marine Division (Peleliu) and the Army’s 81st Infantry Division (Angaur).

–Major General William H. Rupertus, USMC, commanded the 1st Marine Division. Under his command were 1st Marines commander Col Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, 5th Marines commander Col Harold D. Harris, 7th Marines commander Col Herman H. Hanneken and 11th Marines commander Col William H. Harrison.

–Major General Paul J. Mueller, USA, commanded the 81st Infantry Division.

D-Day

D-Day on Peleliu was set for 15 September 1944. On that day, the 1st Marine Division planned to land on the western beaches of Peleliu three regiments abreast. The 1st Marines were to assault the beaches on the left, which were designated White 1 and White 2, and push through the enemy toward the northwestern peninsula of the island. In the center, the 5th Marines were to land on Orange Beaches 1 and 2 and drive across to the island’s eastern shore. They would be responsible for securing the island’s airfield before moving to seize the northeastern part of the island.

The 7th Marines on the right were to assault Orange Beach 3 and move to take the southern tip of the island.

The U.S. Navy demonstrated the value of sea power by blocking the Japanese access to sea lanes that would have enabled them to reinforce and resupply their men on Peleliu.

Three days of naval gunfire preceded the Marines’ landing, but it proved inadequate against the type of Japanese defenses created on the island. The Japanese took advantage of the rugged, ridged terrain around Umurbrogol Mountain (unreported by American reconnaissance units) to construct a series of interlocking underground shelters and well-concealed concrete bunkers. As U.S. troops came ashore, they faced enfilading fire from these bunkers and from the high ground above the beaches.

The enemy fought tenaciously to prevent the Marines from securing a beachhead. The first night ashore was grueling; small infiltration parties hit the Marine lines repeatedly. The cruiser Honolulu and three destroyers provided star shell illumination to help the Marines turn the infiltrators back, but the rest of the fleet withdrew to avoid enemy submarines. The Marines fought throughout the night, well dug in their foxholes. Water was in short supply as there were no natural sources the Marines could tap. According to one observer, by the morning 16th September, the Marines were “mean and thirsty.” That day, the 5th and 7th Marines advanced relentlessly; the 1st Marines more slowly, encountering fierce resistance from the northern ridges they were assigned to take.

Temperatures on Peleliu rose as high as 115 degrees, and drinking water was scarce during the initial combat. Marines on the front lines were parched, pleading for water. Hearing this, the crews of some of the ships offshore, to the surprise and delight of many Marines, sent cases of fruit and tomato juices ashore for the front line troops.

Brigadier General Oliver P. Smith, assistant 1st Marine Division commander, said of the first week of fighting, “Seven days after the landing, all of the southern end of Peleliu was in our possession, as well as the high ground immediately dominating the airfield. All the beaches that were ever used were in use. There was room for the proper deployment of all the artillery, including the Corps’ artillery. Unloading was unhampered except by the weather and hydrographic conditions. The airfield was available and essential base development work was underway.”

The battle for Peleliu provided an opportunity for Marines to practice and perfect their skills in close air support. Marine aviators demonstrated ingenuity and courage, but their efforts would have little effect on the underground fortresses built by the Japanese. Following the fighting, one report estimated the existence of more than 500 caves. Long-range flame throwers mounted on amphibian tractors, employed for the first time on Peleliu, proved to be the most effective weapon against these well-fortified caves.

In later phases of the operation, the seizure of Umurbrogol Mountain and the northern area of Peleliu were among the most difficult assignments faced by the Marines. This move was tactically important as a means to bypass and isolate enemy pockets of resistance. The northern ground was also to be used as a platform to attack the neighboring small island of Ngesebus. Ngesebus, connected to Peleliu by causeway, was an objective because of its unfinished fighter air strip.

The seizure of Umurbrogol Mountain took five regiments close to two months of battle to accomplish. Indeed, the 1st Marines suffered so many casualties as it fought to achieve its objectives that the Army’s 81st Infantry Division, known as the “Wildcats,” was called in to relieve them. The Wildcats’ initial mission to seize Angaur had been accomplished on 21 October when the division overran Angaur’s remaining resistance and the island was declared secure.

The Wildcats then began the tough job of relieving the 1st Marines and isolating the enemy pockets of resistance on Umurbrogol Mountain. Over the next weeks, the Wildcats would advance slowly around the Umurbrogol pocket, gradually eliminating all enemy resistance. Unlike earlier battles, the Japanese defenders did not attempt banzai (suicide) charges but continued to fight to the bitter end, hoping to inflict the greatest amount of damage to the American forces.

On 27 September, MajGen Geiger declared the island secure and ordered the American flag to be raised over the battlefield. Operation Stalemate II had become the Pacific’s largest amphibious operation thus far, involving more than 800 vessels and 1,600 aircraft.

Campaign Results

Throughout the battle, U.S. naval forces had prevented the Japanese from reinforcing their troops on Peleliu, which assisted U.S. ground troops to gain a victory over the well-entrenched enemy force. Victory on Peleliu denied the Japanese a staging area for attacks on the U.S. fleet in the South Pacific and denied them as well the ability to communicate with their forces in the Philippines. The cost of taking the island, however, was high. On Peleliu, Marine casualties were 1,336 killed and 5,450 wounded while the 81st Infantry Division suffered 1,393 casualties including 208 killed in action. On Angaur, the 81st Infantry Division had 1,676 casualties, including 196 killed in action. The Japanese lost an estimated 10,695 men, with an additional 301 taken as prisoners of war.

United States Marine Corps History:The Battle of Peleliu

The fall of Japan’s first line of defense in New Guinea, the Marshalls and the Marianas allowed the Allies to move on to strongholds in Japan’s second defensive line. The Palau Islands were stepping stones in Army General Douglas MacArthur’s plan to invade the Philippines. While it is still debated whether the capture of the Palaus was necessary to protect Gen MacArthur’s flank, the battle of Peleliu was one of the toughest to be fought during the entire Pacific war.

The Commanders

On 10 May 1944, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet/Pacific Ocean Areas, Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, issued the first planning orders for the assault on the Palau Islands of Peleliu and Angaur. Peleliu would be the primary target of the operation, which was code-named Stalemate II. The U.S. commanders of the campaign were assigned as follows:

–Vice Admiral Theodore S. Wilkinson, USN, commanded the Third Amphibious Force.

–Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC, commanded the III Amphibious Corps, comprised of ground troops from the 1st Marine Division (Peleliu) and the Army’s 81st Infantry Division (Angaur).

–Major General William H. Rupertus, USMC, commanded the 1st Marine Division. Under his command were 1st Marines commander Col Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, 5th Marines commander Col Harold D. Harris, 7th Marines commander Col Herman H. Hanneken and 11th Marines commander Col William H. Harrison.

–Major General Paul J. Mueller, USA, commanded the 81st Infantry Division.

D-Day

D-Day on Peleliu was set for 15 September 1944. On that day, the 1st Marine Division planned to land on the western beaches of Peleliu three regiments abreast. The 1st Marines were to assault the beaches on the left, which were designated White 1 and White 2, and push through the enemy toward the northwestern peninsula of the island. In the center, the 5th Marines were to land on Orange Beaches 1 and 2 and drive across to the island’s eastern shore. They would be responsible for securing the island’s airfield before moving to seize the northeastern part of the island.

The 7th Marines on the right were to assault Orange Beach 3 and move to take the southern tip of the island.

The U.S. Navy demonstrated the value of sea power by blocking the Japanese access to sea lanes that would have enabled them to reinforce and resupply their men on Peleliu.

Three days of naval gunfire preceded the Marines’ landing, but it proved inadequate against the type of Japanese defenses created on the island. The Japanese took advantage of the rugged, ridged terrain around Umurbrogol Mountain (unreported by American reconnaissance units) to construct a series of interlocking underground shelters and well-concealed concrete bunkers. As U.S. troops came ashore, they faced enfilading fire from these bunkers and from the high ground above the beaches.

The enemy fought tenaciously to prevent the Marines from securing a beachhead. The first night ashore was grueling; small infiltration parties hit the Marine lines repeatedly. The cruiser Honolulu and three destroyers provided star shell illumination to help the Marines turn the infiltrators back, but the rest of the fleet withdrew to avoid enemy submarines. The Marines fought throughout the night, well dug in their foxholes. Water was in short supply as there were no natural sources the Marines could tap. According to one observer, by the morning 16th September, the Marines were “mean and thirsty.” That day, the 5th and 7th Marines advanced relentlessly; the 1st Marines more slowly, encountering fierce resistance from the northern ridges they were assigned to take.
Temperatures on Peleliu rose as high as 115 degrees, and drinking water was scarce during the initial combat. Marines on the front lines were parched, pleading for water. Hearing this, the crews of some of the ships offshore, to the surprise and delight of many Marines, sent cases of fruit and tomato juices ashore for the front line troops.

Brigadier General Oliver P. Smith, assistant 1st Marine Division commander, said of the first week of fighting, “Seven days after the landing, all of the southern end of Peleliu was in our possession, as well as the high ground immediately dominating the airfield. All the beaches that were ever used were in use. There was room for the proper deployment of all the artillery, including the Corps’ artillery. Unloading was unhampered except by the weather and hydrographic conditions. The airfield was available and essential base development work was underway.”

The battle for Peleliu provided an opportunity for Marines to practice and perfect their skills in close air support. Marine aviators demonstrated ingenuity and courage, but their efforts would have little effect on the underground fortresses built by the Japanese. Following the fighting, one report estimated the existence of more than 500 caves. Long-range flame throwers mounted on amphibian tractors, employed for the first time on Peleliu, proved to be the most effective weapon against these well-fortified caves.

In later phases of the operation, the seizure of Umurbrogol Mountain and the northern area of Peleliu were among the most difficult assignments faced by the Marines. This move was tactically important as a means to bypass and isolate enemy pockets of resistance. The northern ground was also to be used as a platform to attack the neighboring small island of Ngesebus. Ngesebus, connected to Peleliu by causeway, was an objective because of its unfinished fighter air strip.

The seizure of Umurbrogol Mountain took five regiments close to two months of battle to accomplish. Indeed, the 1st Marines suffered so many casualties as it fought to achieve its objectives that the Army’s 81st Infantry Division, known as the “Wildcats,” was called in to relieve them. The Wildcats’ initial mission to seize Angaur had been accomplished on 21 October when the division overran Angaur’s remaining resistance and the island was declared secure.
The Wildcats then began the tough job of relieving the 1st Marines and isolating the enemy pockets of resistance on Umurbrogol Mountain. Over the next weeks, the Wildcats would advance slowly around the Umurbrogol pocket, gradually eliminating all enemy resistance. Unlike earlier battles, the Japanese defenders did not attempt banzai (suicide) charges but continued to fight to the bitter end, hoping to inflict the greatest amount of damage to the American forces.
On 27 September, MajGen Geiger declared the island secure and ordered the American flag to be raised over the battlefield. Operation Stalemate II had become the Pacific’s largest amphibious operation thus far, involving more than 800 vessels and 1,600 aircraft.

Campaign Results

Throughout the battle, U.S. naval forces had prevented the Japanese from reinforcing their troops on Peleliu, which assisted U.S. ground troops to gain a victory over the well-entrenched enemy force. Victory on Peleliu denied the Japanese a staging area for attacks on the U.S. fleet in the South Pacific and denied them as well the ability to communicate with their forces in the Philippines. The cost of taking the island, however, was high. On Peleliu, Marine casualties were 1,336 killed and 5,450 wounded while the 81st Infantry Division suffered 1,393 casualties including 208 killed in action. On Angaur, the 81st Infantry Division had 1,676 casualties, including 196 killed in action. The Japanese lost an estimated 10,695 men, with an additional 301 taken as prisoners of war.

Taken from the WWII 50th Anniversary Fact Sheet Prepared by
1stLt Kimberly J. Miller, USMC

2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division

Second Battalion Seventh Marines is garrisoned on board the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at 29 Palms, CA. 2d Battalion, 7th Marines activated 01 January 1941 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as the 2d battalion, 7th Marines and was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force. It was reassigned during February 1941 to the 1st Marine Division, and relocated during April 1941 to Paris Island, South Carolina, and relocated during September 1941 to New River, North Carolina. The Battalion was attached during March 1942 to the 3rd Marine Brigade, and deployed during April 1942 to Samoa. It was detached during August 1942 from the 3rd Marine Brigade and reassigned to the 1st Marine Division. It participated in the following World War II campaigns: Guadalcanal; Eastern New Guinea; New Britain; Peleliu; and Okinawa. It participated in the occupation of North China, September 1945 – January 1947. The unit relocated during January 1947 to Camp Pendleton, and deactivated 26 February 1947.

The Battalion was reactivated 17 August 1950 at Camp Pendleton, California, and assigned to the 1st Marine Division. It deployed during September 1950 to the Republic of Korea and participated in the Korean War from September 1950 through July 1953, operating from Inchon-Seoul, Chosin Reservoir, East Central Front, and Western Front. It participated in the defense of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, July 1953 – March 1955, and relocated during March 1955 to Camp Pendleton.

It deployed during June 1965 to Camp Schwab, Okinawa, and participated in the War in Vietnam, July 1965 – October 1970, operating from Qui Nhon, Chu Lai, Dai Nang, Dai Loc and An Hoa.

The Battalion relocated during October 1970 to Camp Pendleton, and was reassigned to the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade. Reassigned during April 1971 to the 1st Marine Division, it participated in the battalion rotation between the 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa and divisions stationed in the United States during the 1980s. It relocated during January 1990 to Twenty-nine Palms, California, and participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Southwest Asia, August 1990 – March 1991, and relocated during March 1991 to Twenty-nine Palms, California.

The battalion continued to participate in the rotation between 3rd Marine Division on Okinawa and divisions stationed in the United States from March 1991 – June 2005. From July 2005 – January 2006 and January 2007 – August 2007, the battalion was assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6 and participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom, operating around the Fallujah area. Upon returning to Twenty-Nine Palms, California the battalion started predeployment workup for another tour. In April 2008, the battalion deployed to Afghanistan to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom.

From April 2008 to November 2008 the Battalion deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 08 and was assigned to Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan, and later to the Special Purpose MAGTF – Afghanistan. Operating from locations in Northern Helmand and Eastern Farah Provinces, the Battalion engaged in heavy fighting with insurgent forces while conducting full-spectrum COIN with a focus on development of the Afghan National Police.

The Battalion deployed to Okinawa, Japan in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) from January to July of 2010. During this deployment the Battalion participated in Operation Cobra Gold 2010 and Operation Balikatan 2010 in the countries of Thailand and Republic of the Philippines. The Battalion again deployed to Okinawa, Japan in support of the 31st MEU from June to December of 2011. During this deployment the Battalion participated in Talisman Saber 2011 and PHIBLEX 2011 in the countries of Australia and Republic of the Philippines.

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11th Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division

The present 11th Marines has been preceded by three other organizations having similar designations. The first was activated during World War I on 3 January 1918 as the 11th Marine Regiment. Originally planned as a light artillery regiment, it was converted to an infantry unit and went to France as part of the 5th Marine Brigade in the waning days of the war. It failed to see combat and returned home to be disbanded on 11 August 1919.

On 9 May 1927, another 11th Regiment was activated from troops in Haiti and at Quantico for service in Nicaragua of brief duration. The regimental headquarters was disbanded on 51 July 1927, and the two battalions in September. Renewed political problems in Nicaragua and the intensified guerrilla campaign of the bandit leader Augusto Sandino caused the activation of another 11th Regiment at Norfolk, Virginia, and San Diego, California, in January 1928. A third battalion was organized on the east coast on 21 March 1928. Again, service in Nicaragua was brief, with the third battalion being disbanded on 15 June 1929 and the remainder of the regiment on 31 August 1929.

With the approach of World War II and the consequent expansion of the Marine Corps, an 11th Marines (Artillery) was activated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on 1 March 1941. Activation of the regiment’s organic battalions already had been underway since 1 September 1940 when the 1st Battalion was created. After its return to the United States from Cuba, the regiment (less the 1st Battalion) shipped overseas with the 1st Marine Division to New Zealand in June-July 1942. The 1st Battalion went to Samoa with the 7th Marines in March 1942.

The 11th Marines landed on Guadalcanal in August with the 1st Marine Division and played an especially significant part in the Battle of the Tenaru and the Battle of Edson’s Ridge. The 1st Battalion rejoined the regiment in September on Guadalcanal. On 15 December 1942, the 11th Marines left Guadalcanal for Australia, rested and reorganized, and then reentered combat on New Britain at Cape Gloucester on 26 December 1943. Here the regiment furnished support to the infantry in their capture of the Japanese airdrome. Following the New Britain campaign came a period of preparation for the Peleliu landing where the regiment was actively engaged.

For the first two weeks after the 15 September 1944 landing on Peleliu, all artillery support was handled both novelly and conventionally, providing massed preparatory, harassing, and interdicting fire. Later, the artillery was used to fire directly into the mouths of enemy caves. In March 1945, the 11th Marines left for Okinawa, its final combat operation of World War II. There the regiment played an important defensive role with effective counter-battery fire, and steadily suppressed enemy attempts to counter-attack objectives already won by U.S. forces. With the war won, in the fall of 1945 the 11th Marines moved to Tientsin in North China where it was soon involved in trying to keep peace in the midst of the increasing conflict between rival Chinese factions. Early ih 1947, the regiment returned to the United States to be reduced virtually to a battalion-sized unit.

Three years later the Communist North Koreans invaded South Korea, and the 1st Battalion was part of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade deployed in August 1950 to the Pusan Perimeter to help stem their advance. Other battalions were organized in the United States and were available for service when the 1st Division made the Inchon landing. Shifted back to the east coast of Korea, the battalions were attached to regimental combat teams and participated in the Chosin Reservoir campaign of 1950. The 11th Marines participated in continued heavy action on the East Central Front throughout 1951, and in March 1952, moved to the Western Front. The 11th was finally able to sail from Korea for the United States and Camp Pendleton on 7 March 1955.

The years between 1955 and 1965 were spent in continued training to maintain a constant state of readiness. During the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, the 11th Marines played a role in the task force ordered to impose a naval quarantine against arms shipments to Cuba.

A new era opened on 8 March 1965 when the Marines were committed to ground action in South Vietnam. Beginning on 16 August 1965, the regiment was gradually deployed to South Vietnam. The transfer was completed by the arrival of the 2d Battalion on 27 May 1966. The nature of the war required the artillerymen to defend their own positions against numerous enemy probes and brought about a vastly increased employment of artillery by helicopters, both for displacement and resupply.

The regimental history in Vietnam was characterized as fighting by detachments in dispersed areas. Hastings, Hue City, Napoleon-Saline II, Oklahoma Hills, Pipestone Canyon, and Imperial Lake were some of the more significant operations in which the regiment participated. Redeployment to the United States started in October 1970 when the 4th Battalion left for Twentynine Palms, California. The 1st Battalion was the last unit of the regiment to depart for the United States and Camp Pendleton in May 1971.

During the next decade, the 11th Marines experienced a high level of activity, participating in many training and support exercises. In 1975 the regiment provided support for Operation New Arrival and the Vietnamese refugees. The 11th Marines participated in numerous training exercises throughout the 1980s to maintain the regiments high level of operational readiness.

The regiment’s ability to respond quickly to a crisis was put to the test in August 1990, when Iraq invaded and occupied its neighbor, Kuwait. President George Bush immediately ordered American forces, including Marines, to the Persian Gulf, to deter a possible Iraqi assault into Saudi Arabia. Elements of the 11th Marines began departing Camp Pendleton on 25 August as part of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, enroute to Saudi Arabia and Operation Desert Shield. Early in September, 7th MEB was absorbed by I Marine Expeditionary Force. The mission of the 11th Marines was to provide effective artillery support to the various task forces comprising the 1st Marine Division. Upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, the regiment began an intensive training program, which included liaison with the famous British “Desert Rats,” the 40th Field Regiment Royal Artillery

Iraq’s refusal to remove its forces from occupied Kuwait soon changed the 11th Marines tactical posture from defense to offense. Close study of Iraqi defense arrangement began in earnest, as well as efforts to develop effective countermeasures. The 11th Marines enhanced its combat posture during November and December 1990 with live-fire artillery training exercises.

Operation Desert Storm began early on 17 January 1991, and the 11th Marines fired its first artillery mission against Iraqi forces, when elements of the regiment conducted an early morning surface artillery raid just south of Khafji. This was the first in a series of 11th Marines artillery raids conducted along the Saudi Arabian/Kuwaiti border, both on the Persian Gulf coast and along the south-west border area near several oil fields. As the major coalition ground offensive began on 24 February, the 11th Marines was already inside Kuwait providing vital fire support to Task Forces Grizzly and Taro. Throughout Operation Desert Storm, the 11th Marines provided close and continuous fire support to the 1st Marine Division.

Upon the 28 February 1991 ceasefire which ended the fighting, the 11th Marines prepared to leave the Persian Gulf for home. The regiment’s seven-month deployment and the Gulf War came to an end on 5 April with a much-deserved welcome at Camp Pendleton, California.

Marines.mil

2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division

The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines was initially formed in July 1914 and immediately sailed to the Caribbean due to political turmoil in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The battalion returned to the United States in late 1914. In June 1917, the battalion sailed for France with its present regiment. During World War I, the battalion participated in the Battle of Belleau Wood, Soisson, and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. For these actions, the battalion was twice awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and once with Gold Star. The FOURRAGERE, representing these awards, and is worn today by members of the battalion.

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines participated in the post-war occupation of Germany and returned to the United States in August 1919. In 1920, at Quantico, Virginia, the battalion was ordered to guard U.S. mail trains. During this period, it also participated in reenactments of Civil War battles. The battalion was sent to Nicaragua in 1927 to fight bandits and supervised the 1928 national elections there.

At Quantico from 1934 on, the battalion participated in numerous exercises contributing to the development of the Marine Corps Amphibious Doctrine. In 1941 2nd Battalion 5th Marines joined the newly formed 1st Marine Division at New River, North Carolina. The 1st Marine Division departed the East Coast in 1942 and has never returned. During World War II, that battalion fought at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa. After the war, the battalion served on occupation duty in North China until 1947.

In July 1950, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines sailed from Camp Pendleton, California, to Pusan, Korea. In August, the battalion fought at the Pusan Perimeter. The battalion participated in the landing at Inchon, the liberation of Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, and the defense of the East Central and Western Fronts. From July 1953 to February 1955, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines assisted in the defense of the Korean de-militarized zone after which it returned to Camp Pendleton.

In 1959, the battalion deployed to Camp Schwab, Okinawa, and then in 1960, relocated to Camp Pendleton. In April 1966, the battalion deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. During the next five years the battalion participated in combat operations in Hue city, Que Son, Phu Bai, Dong Ha and Phu Loc. The battalion returned to Camp Pendleton in 1971, and in 1975 participated in Operation New Arrival, the relocation of Southeast Asian Refugees.

During the next fifteen years, the battalion deployed regularly as part of the Marine Corps Unit Deployment Program. In December 1990, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines sailed for the Persian Gulf and participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines landed in Saudi Arabia and participated in the liberation of Kuwait. During the return transit to the United States, the battalion was diverted to Bangladesh in order to provide humanitarian relief as part of Operation Sea Angel.

In 1993, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines deployed as the Battalion Landing Team for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable) and participated in operations in Rwanda and Somalia. In 1995 the Battalion began regular deployments to Okinawa for service as the Battalion Landing Team for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and participated in several operations in East Timor.

In February 2003, the Battalion deployed to Kuwait as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. In March, the Battalion attacked into Iraq, freed the Iraqi people and conducted peacekeeping operations in Muthanna Province until its redeployment in August. The Battalion earned its 14th Presidential Unit Citation for the Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign.

In August of 2004, the Battalion once again deployed to Iraq to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom II in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines is the most highly decorated battalion in the United States Marine Corps. Its motto comes from its actions at Belleau Wood during WW I. The fleeing French advised the newly arrived Marines to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. The Battalion’s response: “Retreat, Hell!”

Marines.mil

1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment 1st Marine Division

The history of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines began on 1 April 1921 in San Diego, California. In September 1924, the battalion was deactivated with its personnel being absorbed by the newly organized 4th Marine Regiment. For the next twenty years 1st Battalion, 7th Marines was activated, re-designated, and disbanded on numerous occasions until being reborn on 1 January 1941.

Just over a year after its rebirth the battalion boarded ships for the Pacific Theater and World War II, where they saw their first action of the war at Guadalcanal. Under the leadership of the Battalion Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the Battalion distinguished themselves many times over for valor and bravery as they valiantly held their positions against the onslaught of a regiment of seasoned Japanese attackers.

It was also during this campaign that the legendary Sergeant “Manila John” Basilone became the first enlisted man in World War II to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Throughout the remainder of the war, the “First Team” distinguished themselves during many different campaigns, including Pelilieu and Okinawa. Finally, the Battalion deployed to North China for occupation duty at the end of the war.

Following the occupation duty, the “First of the Seventh” was sent to Camp Pendleton, California where they were deactivated on 5 March 1947.

However, in response to the Communist aggression in Korea, the Battalion was again called into action. On 21 September 1950, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines made an amphibious landing at Inchon, Korea. Once more the “First Team” distinguished themselves in the battle as they took part in operations such as HOOK, RENO, and VEGAS, as well as fighting their way to and from the Chosin Reservoir.

It was during the Korean Conflict that such names as First Lieutenant Frank Mitchell, Staff Sergeant Archie Van Winkle, and Lieutenant Colonel Raymond C. Davis became part of Marine Corps history as each were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Following the cessation of hostilities in Korea and through 1965, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines spent time both in Camp Pendleton and Okinawa while maintaining its combat readiness.

In August 1965, the Battalion was once again called to service, this time in the Republic of Vietnam. For the next five years, the “First Team” participated in numerous operations such as STARLIGHT, PIRANHA and OKLAHOMA HILLS. During these operations and many others, the Battalion was honored repeatedly, earning the Presidential Unit Citation Streamer four times and the Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer three times.

1st Battalion, 7th Marines was the first unit to man defensive positions in Saudi Arabia during Operation DESERT SHIELD in August of 1990. The unit was an integral member of Task Force Ripper. As DESERT SHIELD became DESERT STORM, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines participated in the diagonal thrust into the heart of Kuwait City, spearheading the liberation of Kuwait from Iraq. The Battalion redeployed to Twentynine Palms, California in March of 1991.

On 11 December 1992, the first elements of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines arrived at Mogadishu, Somalia for Operation RESTORE HOPE. Battalion operations were conducted in Baidoa, Bardera, Oddur, Afgoye, and Mogadishu. 1st Battalion, 7th Marines relieved Task Force Mogadishu for occupation of the Stadium Complex in Mogadishu, Somalia on 25 January 1993.

On 24 April 1993, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines turned over their mission and area of operations in Mogadishu to the 10th Baluch Battalion and redeployed to Twentynine Palms.

In January 2003, the Battalion was once again called into action for Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and consequently Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. On 18 March 2003, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines crossed the Iraqi border from Kuwait on their march toward Baghdad. The Battalion saw significant combat action along the way to and in the streets of the Iraqi capital. On 23 April, the Battalion turned over control of their sector to the US Army and took up positions in the holy city of An Najaf. After countless extensions, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines redeployed to Twentynine Palms on 5 October 2003.

During the Battalion regeneration phase, the Battalion demonstrated exceptional creativity and organizational skill creating, developing and facilitating an extensive Security and Stability (SASO) training package. This training evolution was implemented in preparation for deployment to Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II.

In August 2004, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines deployed to Western Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II. There the Battalion conducted security operations in the cities and roadways along the Euphrates River and Syrian boarder to include Husaybah, Karabilah, Sadah, Ubaydi, Al Qaim, Haditha, Hit and Haqlania. Involved in combat operations on a daily basis, the Battalion conducted mounted and dismounted urban patrols, cordon and knocks, Main Supply Route (MSR) security, sweep operations, and border security to clear the Battalion’s Area of Operation (AO) of enemy insurgents and provide stable conditions for the continued development of a legitimate Iraqi government.

In March 2005, the Battalion redeployed to Twentynine Palms and immediately began 10 months of intensive training in preparation for their return to Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 05-07.

From February through September 2006, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines deployed to the Al Qaim Region in Western Iraq. During this tour, the Marines of the “First Team” enjoyed unprecedented success in battling the counterinsurgency and establishing legitimate civilian authority. The Battalion occupied 15 Platoon and Company battle positions which controlled over 5,000 square miles in the Western Euphrates River Valley. Each platoon was partnered with an Iraqi Army Platoon and members of the local constabulary. During the deployment, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines re-established a non-existent Iraqi Police Force to an end-strength of over 1,300 new officers and five police stations. Local Iraqi civil leaders were fully engaged by the Battalion leadership at all levels which yielded tremendous impact on security throughout the Al Qaim region and in so doing, created the model for Dispersed Operations throughout the Iraq theater.

From September 2006-August 2007, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines conducted a comprehensive training cycle on a compressed timeline by executing five Battalion-level field exercises and Mojave Viper. These events prepared the Battalion for the next deployment to the Western Euphrates River Valley.

In August 2007, the “First Team” deployed to Hit, Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 07.2. The Battalion was partnered with two Iraqi Army Battalions, two Iraqi Police District Headquarters, and five Iraqi Police Stations and continued its fight against the insurgency by conducting raids, desert interdiction operations, and cache searches. Not only did the Battalion achieve great success by detaining over 100 insurgents and locating many weapons caches, including some on the islands in the Euphrates, the “First Team” also set the standard by transitioning many of the cities back over to Iraqi control. This progressive approach toward counterinsurgency operations empowered the local government and security forces to “police their own” and facilitated force protection measures for Coalition Forces. In March 2008 the Battalion re-deployed back to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms.

In April 2008, the Battalion began 10 months of intensive training in preparation for their return to Iraq in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 09.1.

In February 2009, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines deployed to Karmah, Iraq where the Battalion conducted two near simultaneous Relief in Place/Transfer of Authority (RIP/TOA) with 1st Battalion, 3d Marines in Karmah and 1st Battalion, 4th Marines in Fallujah in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM 09.1. The Battalion’s Combined Area of Overwatch (CAO) spanned 2,500 square kilometers and the Battalion partnered with two Iraqi Army Battalions, two Provisional Security Force Battalions, and 37 Iraqi Police Stations. The Battalion’s focus of effort was on developing the professionalism and coordination amongst the Iraqi Security Forces and supporting the development of government institutions and essential services. Through tactical combined operations, intelligence sharing and coordination meetings, the Iraqi Security Forces in Karmah become a much more proficient force and demonstrated the ability to neutralize the insurgency in Karmah with limited Coalition Force assistance. As part of the post Status of Forces Agreement of January 2009, the “First Team” shaped its CAO so that it could be managed by a much smaller coalition unit. The Battalion retrograded all of its equipment prior to redeployment and demilitarized all seven of its original fixed sites. During the deployment, the Battalion helped to strengthen the local government, improve essential services, and professionalize the Iraqi Security Forces which were instrumental to a free and sovereign Iraq. The Battalion redeployed to Twentynine Palms in September 2009.

From July 2010 1st Battalion 7th Marines deployed to Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, in support of the 31st MEU. Where the Battalion started our operation planning prior to boarding ship with a MEU-EX, and a COMM-EX. In August 2010 the Battalion sent an advance party to Board and setup the Marine network aboard the USS Denver (LPD-9). September 2010 1st Battalion 7th Marines boarded the USS Essex (LHD-2), USS Denver (LPD-9), and USS Harpers Ferry (LSD-49). The 31st MEU conducted a bilateral exercise with the Philippines Marines (PHILMARS). The exercise was turned into a Humanitarian effort. The 31st MEU after afloat for 3 months returned to Okinawa, Japan. The Battalion turned over with 2nd Battalion 5th Marines and redeployed back to Twenty nine Palms, California in January 2011.


Marines.mil

Marine Corps History: Chosin Reservoir

Following the successful Inchon landing, U.N. forces had North Korean troops on the run, but communist China’s unexpected entry into the Korean War threatened that progress.

At Chosin Reservoir, the 1st Marine Division found itself surrounded and outnumbered 8-to-1 by the Chinese army. The worst weather in 50 years cut off air support and assaulted the Marines with snow, wind and temperatures of -40 degrees F.

Even so, the “Chosin Few,” as they would come to be called, decimated 10 Chinese infantry divisions and fought their way back to the sea to rejoin the American forces.

No Marines have ever faced worse weather, terrain or odds than those who fought at Chosin Reservoir, but to anyone familiar with the Marines’ spirit of determination, there was no doubt the 1st Marine Division would prevail.

Marines.com

Marines Take First Step to Become Scout Snipers

Marines serving with the 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, volunteered to take a scout sniper screener to have a chance of becoming part of the scout sniper platoon.

Upon passing the screener, Marines are selected to become a part of the platoon and are sent to Scout Sniper Basic Course once their command is confident they’re ready.

The screener consists of various activities including fitness tests, academic tests and land navigation over a period of four days with a couple hours rest in between days.

Cpl. Kyle Janssen, Scout Sniper, Emmetsburg, Iowa, is interviewed.

The United States Marines: The New Britain Campaign

By mid-1943 American planners began thinking in terms of recapturing the Philippines, but the presence of the Japanese in the Bismarck Archipelago prevented such an undertaking. To breach this barrier necessitated the opening of the Vitiaz and Dampier Straits, separating New Britain and New Guinea, and the occupying of western New Britain by American forces. The control of the Straits would give Army Gen Douglas MacArthur’s forces an opening into the Japanese bases along the New Guinea coast and a secure approach route to the Philippines.

The 1st Marine Division, commanded by MajGen William H. Rupertus, was given the task of establishing the American presence in western New Britain. The landings were slated to take place at Cape Gloucester on 26 December 1943. Eleven days prior to the Marine invasion, the Army’s 112th Cavalry made an assault on the Arawe Peninsula to the southeast of Cape Gloucester with the primary purpose of distracting the Japanese from the main Marine thrust.

The convoy carrying the 1st Marine Division arrived at its destination early in the morning of the 26th. After a light naval and air bombardment, the Marines embarked on landing craft and headed towards the beaches. Under an aerial smoke screen, which only served to blind and confuse landing craft coxswains, the Marines swarmed ashore at 7:48am.

Two separate landings were made at beaches about 12 miles apart. The main landing occurred at the Yellow Beaches where Col Julian N. Frisbie and his 7th Marines secured the initial beachhead. Units of the 1st Marines, commanded by Col William O. Whaling, landing after the 7th Marines, headed for Cape Gloucester airfield. Resistance was relatively light; however, one bitter but brief firefight took place the morning of D-Day. For a time 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, was held up by a well-entrenched force of Japanese. Tanks finally had to be brought in to break through enemy defenses. The engagement cost the Japanese 25 dead and the Marines seven dead and seven wounded. This was the sharpest struggle of the day. That night, however, an enemy battalion unsuccessfully attempted to break through the section of the perimeter held by 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, and the resulting battle was as fierce as any fought during the campaign.

While the main assault force was hitting the beach, LtCol James M. Masters’ 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, landed unopposed on Green Beach. The reinforced battalion’s objective was to seal off the main coastal trail which led south from Cape Gloucester, thus preventing the escape of retreating enemy units.

Although the invading force met only light resistance, the Americans had to face another obstacle–the dense, tropical rainforest that covered most of New Britain, which was almost impenetrable in many areas. The jungle and swamp combined to hamper the maneuverability of the opposing forces. Nonetheless, the Marines on Yellow Beach resolutely pushed toward their objectives. By 29 December, elements of the 1st Marines reached the airfield on Cape Gloucester. The Japanese withdrew to higher ground as the Marines moved in to occupy the airfield. The next morning the enemy launched a counterattack, but by noon they had been repulsed and the airfield was declared secure. Thus, one of the main objectives of the New Britain operation had been secured, and the Marines now began to move inland in search of the enemy.

After four days of quiet, LtCol Masters’ force, located at the Green Beach perimeter, was attacked by a number of retreating Japanese. The result was a night-long battle which ended when most of the attackers were killed. This engagement ended all serious opposition in the area, and after 10 days of patrolling, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, linked up with the rest of the division at the airdome.

On New Years’ Day 1944, BGen Lemuel C. Shepherd, the Assistant Commander of 1st Marine Division, launched a drive south toward Borgen Bay. One of the most difficult battles of the entire New Britain campaign occurred during this operation. On 8 January 1944, LtCol Lewis W. Walt’s 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, came across a considerable number of enemy bunkers on Aogiri Ridge. The Japanese were well concealed in the very dense jungle and as a result, the American attack stalled the first day. The following day, through the leadership and courage of LtCol Walt, the tide of battle turned. While under fire, he personally took command of a 37mm gun and, with volunteers, manhandled the gun up the slope and into position to sweep the ridge.

By nightfall the Marines had forced their way to the crest where they dug in and waited for an expected counterattack from the enemy. Early on the morning of the 10th, the Japanese struck with the aim of hurling back the Americans. The enemy made five repeated charges up the slope, but all failed to dislodge 3d Battalion, 5th Marines. As dawn approached, the battle was over and not a single Japanese of the attacking force remained alive.

The only remaining stronghold in Japanese hands in the area was Hill 660. LtCol Henry W. Buse, commanding 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, was given the mission of taking the hill. After two days of probing, LtCol Buse led his exhausted men to the summit in a sudden rush. Despite heavy enemy fire, the advance this time was not halted, and as night fell, the objective had been taken. Two days later, 16 January, the Japanese counterattacked. A few enemy soldiers managed to reach the top but were overwhelmed in the hand-to-hand fighting that ensued. The rest were driven back by the tremendous volume of small-arms fire of the defenders. The Americans then pounded the ranks of the enemy with mortars. This ended the assault and annihilated the attackers. This counterattack alone cost the enemy 110 dead. The overall price to the Japanese for Hill 660 was 200 dead and an unknown number wounded. The cost to the Marines was about 50 men killed and wounded.

The capture of Hill 660 and the repulse of the counterattack marked the effective end of the Japanese defense of the Cape Gloucester/Borgen Bay area. In the following weeks, patrols were continually sent out to harass the retreating Japanese who were attempting to reach Rabaul, the huge enemy bastion on the opposite end of the island.

To intercept the withdrawing enemy, an assault was ordered on the Williamuez Peninsula, some 120 miles east of Cape Gloucester. The Marines were directed to land midway up the peninsula and drive toward the airstrip at Talasea. On 6 March 1944, units of the 5th Marines headed for shore. The enemy in this case decided to oppose the attackers on the beach. Overcoming some determined resistance, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, established a beachhead from which 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, struck out for the airstrip at Talasea. For the next three days, a series of small actions occurred in the vicinity after which the area was freed from Japanese control. The following weeks saw the regiment engaged in numerous patrols to cut off enemy units. A number of clashes occurred and a total of 150 prisoners were taken.

With the seizure of Talasea the campaign for western New Britain by the 1st Marine Division ended, although active patrolling continued well into April. On the 28th of that month, the Marines were relieved by the Army’s 40th Infantry Division.

The 1st Marine Division left New Britain knowing that it had accomplished its assigned mission. Western New Britain, with its airfields, was in American hands. Moreover, the vital Japanese supply route between Rabaul and New Guniea had been severed. As a result, the door to the Philippines was pushed further ajar. Finally, one more link had been added to the American chain that was encircling Rabaul.

The cost to the Marines for the four-month campaign was 478 killed and 982 wounded.

2nd Marine Division Welcomes New Sergeant Major

Sergeant Maj. Bryan K. Zickefoose, of Omaha, Neb., replaced Clinton, N.C., native Sgt. Maj. Michael F. Jones as the 2nd Marine Division sergeant major during the 2nd Marine Division Relief and Appointment ceremony April 27.

Jones will now move on to Marine Forces Command, after serving as the division sergeant major since March 28, 2008, while Zickefoose joins the unit from the West Coast after a recent deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan, with 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

Jones said he is very proud of the division’s Marines and sailors for the way they have conducted themselves throughout the past four years.

“There are about 24,000 Marines and sailors in the 2nd Marine Division. To get out and watch them learn and grow and develop in to fighting men, fighting women, and to execute the mission across the spectrum of (Marine Air-Ground Task Force) operations has probably been the most exciting thing,” said Jones. “(I have) a sense of pride to see the legacy that’s coming behind us as Marines and watching them grow.”

Jones leaves the responsibilities as division sergeant major in good hands with Zickefoose, who comes from 1st Marine Regiment.

“I couldn’t be happier (about Zickefoose coming in). He is a fantastic sergeant major,” said Jones. “He’s going to continue all the great things about the 2nd Marine Division – all the great things that I had a hand in, he is going to carry forward and exceed.”

Major General John A. Toolan Jr., the 2nd Marine Division commanding general and a Brooklyn, N.Y., native, presented Jones the Legion of Merit during the ceremony, awarded to those who have distinguished themselves through exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service.

Zickefoose said he looks to continue the division’s outstanding leadership. He assured the Marines and sailors at the ceremony he would do everything he could to support them and keep them sharp.

“In everything I do, I will support you – guaranteed,” said Zickefoose. “I’m here for you. I want you to remember one thing: iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another. You keep me sharp, and I’ll definitely keep you sharp.”

Jones encourages the Marines and sailors to continue upholding the legacy and reputation of 2nd Marine Division under their new enlisted leader.

“Just carry our legacy forward,” said Jones. “Understand people are watching; they’re listening, and the individual Marine, the individual sailor is the ‘Follow Me’ division.”

Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde
Marines.mil

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