Patch
Unit Details

Strength
Division
Type
Ground Unit
 
Existing/Disbanded
Existing
Year
1942 - Present

Description
The primary mission of the 3d Marine Division is to execute amphibious assault operations and other such operations as may be directed. The Division is supported by Marine aviation, and force service support units and is prepared to be employed, as an integral part of a Marine Expeditionary Force in amphibious operations.
 
The Division is divided into the Third Marine Regiment at Kaneohe Bay, HI, the Twelfth Marine Regiment located at Camp Hansen, and the Fourth Marine Regiment at Camp Schwab. In addition, we are further broken down into a Headquarters Battalion on Camp Courtney, and a Force Recon Battalion located at Camp Schwab. The Division includes elements forward deployed under the Unit Deployment Program (UDP), reporting aboard for six month rotational training cycles.
 
The 3d Marine Division officially activated 16 September 1942 at Camp Elliott, San Diego, California. It was built around the 9th Marines, commanded by Colonel Lemuel C. SHEPHERD, Jr. who later became the 20th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Major General Charles D. BARRETT was the first Commanding General of the Division. By August 1943 the Division was stationed on Guadalcanal where special training and rehearsals for the Bougainville operation were intensified. On 1 November 1943 the Division landed at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. For approximately two months, the Division participated in the fight against stiff and heavy enemy resistance. On 16 January 1944, with the transfer of command in the area to the Army's XIV Corps, the last elements of the Division returned to Guadalcanal.
 
Following the Bougainville operation the Division began training for the next campaign. Verbal instructions received in February 1944 led to planning for an operation against the Japanese on Emirau Island. The projected Emirau operation was subsequently cancelled and instructions were received to initiate planning for an operation against enemy forces at Kavieng, New Ireland. This operation was also called off. A few days later, the Division received word to start training for the amphibious assault against the Japanese on Guam, Marianas.
 
The Division embarked at Guadalcanal on 2 and 3 June 1944 and sailed for Kwajalein, Marshall Islands enroute to the Marianas. It remained afloat off Saipan from 15 to 28 June 1944 as part of the reserve force for the Saipan operation, then being carried out by the 2d and 4th Marine Divisions in conjunction with the 27th Infantry Division. With the situation on Saipan well controlled the Division returned to its restaging area awaiting the target date for the Guam operation.
 
On 21 July 1944, as a part of the Southern Troops and Landing Force, the Division landed on western beaches of Guam in the vicinity of Asan Point. After twenty days of savage fighting, the Division troops reached the northern coast of the island. On 10 August 1944 Guam was declared secure. Until its departure for the Iwo Jima campaign in the middle of February 1945, the Division remained on Guam taking part in the mopping up operations.
 
Initially, the Division remained afloat off Iwo Jima as Expeditionary Troops Reserve. The Division landed on 24 February, and the next morning the 3d Marine Division launched an attack in its zone between the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions. The 3d Marine Division faced well-organized and determined enemy resistance. The terrain, ideal for defense, was heavily fortified by pillboxes, caves, and covered artillery emplacements. Progress was slow and casualties heavy during the first few days of fighting. The Division slowly pushed the enemy back and by 3 March had severed the last enemy east-west artery of communication by occupying positions overlooking the sea. The 3d Marine Division secured its zone of action on 11 March and then initiated intensive patrolling and mopping-up operations. On 16 March, units of the 3d Marine Division relieved elements of the 5th Division and delivered the final attack of the Iwo Jima operation - a drive to Kitano Point. Iwo Jima was declared secure on the same day. On 4 April the 3d Marine Division was relieved by Army units.
 
By mid-April 1945, the Division was back on Guam preparing for the next operation. On 3 August 1945 the Division received initial plans for the "Olympic" operation which called for an amphibious landing of Kyushu about 1 November 1945. The 3d Marine Division, along with the 2nd and 5th Marine Divisions, was assigned to the V Amphibious Corps for the projected operation. Japan's agreement to cease hostilities and subsequent surrender cancelled "Olympic", and the Division remained on Guam until the date of its disbandment on 28 December 1945.
 
The Division was reactivated on 7 January 1952 at Camp Pendleton, California. Immediately after its activation and still in its organizational state, the Division began intensive combat training, including new tactics and maneuvers based on lessons learned in Korean War. During the remaining part of 1952 elements of the Division participated in numerous exercises and training problems, including vertical envelopment (helicopter landing), air-borne operations and attack, and defense against atomic weapons and missiles.
 
In August 1953 the Division arrived in Japan to support the 1st Marine Division in the defense of the Far Eastern area. In March 1956 the Division moved to Okinawa and remained there in a readiness posture until 1965.
 
On 6 May 1965, the 3d Marine Division opened the Marine Compound at the Danang Air Base, Vietnam. The Division operated in Vietnam from this time participating in operations from Danang to Phi Bai to Quang Tri/Dong Ha Combat Base. The Division departed Vietnam in November 1969 and moved to Camp Courtney, Okinawa, where it is presently located.

From 2004 to 2011, elements of the 3d Marine Division participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  From March to May 2011 the Division participated in humanitarian relief efforts during Operation Tomodachi.  From 2004 to present the Division remains successful fulfilling its mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and theater security cooperation exercises in the Pacific region.  The Division continues to operate in an increasingly challenging and dynamic landscape and will be prepared to fight and win, tonight.

Reports To
III MEF
 
Active Reporting Units
 
Inactive Reporting Units
 
4461 Members Who Served in This Unit


 

  • Abernathy, Robert, Sgt, (1969-1972)
  • Abramo, David, PFC, (1971-1973)
  • Ackerman, Ryan, Sgt, (2000-2007)
  • Acuna, Manuel, Cpl, (1981-1986)
  • Adame, Victor, LCpl, (1987-1991)
  • Adams, Harry, MSgt, (1971-1998)
  • Adams, William, Sgt, (1966-1973)
  • Adams-Reid, Wydell, Cpl, (2008-2012)
  • Adkin, Andrew, LCpl, (1990-1992)
  • Agbo, Albert, Cpl, (1999-2003)
  • Agne, William, Sgt, (1952-1954)
  • Aguilar, Francisco, MGySgt, (1970-2000)
  • Aguilar, Manuel, GySgt, (1997-Present)
  • Agustin, Norman, MSgt
  • Aines, Timothy, Capt, (1979-1985)
  • Ajinga, Chris, LtCol, (1978-2005)
  • Ake, Curtis, GySgt, (1982-2002)
  • Akin, Morgan, SSgt, (1959-1968)
  • Albach, Robert, Sgt, (1964-1968)
  • Albert, Hudson, Cpl, (1999-2004)
  • Albertini, Robert, LCpl, (1968-1969)
  • Albrecht, Nathanial, Sgt, (2004-Present)
  • Alfaro, Edward, LCpl, (1971-1974)
  • Alldredge, Ralph (Lane), GySgt, (1972-1993)
  • Allen, Jerry, Cpl, (2001-2007)
  • Allen, Juan, MSgt, (1984-2008)
  • Allen, Newell, Sgt, (1987-2002)
  • Allison, Charles, Cpl, (1956-1958)
  • Allison, Halen, Sgt, (1998-2002)
 

Unit Citations - Display as Table
 
Associated Patches
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Associations
 
Unit History
 
Battle/Operations History
 
Unit Timeline
Medal of Honor Recipients
WWII PFC Henry Gurke * 3d Raider Bn. Neche SD Bougainville 2dLt. John H. Leims Co. B, 1st Bn 9th Mar. Chicago, IL Iwo Jima PFC Leonard F. Mason * Co. E, 2d Bn., 3d Mar. Middlesboro, KY Guam Sgt. R ... More
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2020
OEF-Afghanistan
All Operation Enduring Freedom operations conducted in or from Afghanistan.
History Icon
2001 - 2014
Operation Tomodachi (Japan)
Operation Tomodachi (literally "Operation Friend(s)") was a United States Armed Forces (especially U.S. Forces Japan) assistance operation to support Japan in disaster relief following the 2 ... More
History Icon
2011 - 2011
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
Criteria
The Meritorious Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself under combat or noncombat conditions by either valorous ... More
Descriptions
1Aug08-30Oct10
2010
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
Criteria
The Meritorious Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself under combat or noncombat conditions by either valorous ... More
Descriptions
28Dec04-12Feb05 (Combined support Force 536 in support of Operation Unified Assistance
2005
Operation Unified Assistance (Indonesia)
Operation Unified Assistance is the name of the United States military's response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. On 28 December, the first elements of the Combined Support Force (CSF-536) were depl ... More
History Icon
2004 - 2005
OIF/Iraqi Governance (2004-05)
In June 2004, under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 the Coalition transferred limited sovereignty to a caretaker government, whose first act was to begin the trial of S ... More
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2004 - 2005
Navy Unit Commendation
Criteria
The Navy Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself by outstanding heroism in action against an enemy (but not suff ... More
Descriptions
11Sep01-31May03 SU III MEF & MCB Japan
2003
Operation Fortress Journey (Vietnam)
Amphibious Evacuation RVN Support Group. Many BIT Marines went on board MSG ships during Operation Fortress Journey.

Phu Quoc's only claim to fame was that it was the home of a nuc mam (s ... More


Once established on board the Pioneer Contender, after a dramatic night arrival, Lieutenant Lee turned his attention to getting his vessel's refugees to Phu Quoc without any casualties. Lee's platoon of Marines would accomplish this objective by maintaining good order on the ship through a disciplined display of force. Throughout the trip south, the proper mix of Strength and confidence calmed the passengers, enabling the Marines to control them despite numerous challenges, not the least of which was the wretched living conditions, typified by the ankle-deep human waste running over the decks.13


Time and time again. Lieutenant Lee and his Marines went forward to distribute food and water at locations predesignated by their interpreter. The Marines literally risked their lives each time they did this, because many of the refugees were starving and desperate. Just for one feeding, distribution throughout the ship was an all-day evolution, consequently causing many to fear that supplies would run out before their turn arrived. One incident pointed up the danger involved in the daily feeding routine. On that occasion, a group of Marines simply delivering the daily ration, was overwhelmed by the crush of refugees, instantly placing them in danger of being killed or seriously injured. A young Marine, Private First Class Charles P. Vidaurri, from his position in the superstructure, observed the commotion in the restless crowd and immediately delivered a burst ofM-60 machine gun fire over their heads. This enabled the Marines on deck to restore order quickly and then finish distributing the day's food and water allocation. As each day seemingly grew longer in the hot sun, Lieutenant Lee used ever increasing amounts of warning fire to maintain order. He took the precaution of arming himself with a shotgun and told his platoon sergeant. Staff Sergeant Earle Livermore, a veteran of the Vietnam War, to do likewise. These precautions helped avoid the use of deadly force and the journey to Phu Quoc was completed without a casualty.14 Military Sealift Command Operations


Lieutenant Lee's deployment on board the SS Pioneer Contender marked a shift in operational priorities. The next day, 5 April, all embarkation of refugees on Navy ships ceased. (The amphibs did not get involved in evacuee transport again until the helicopter evacuations of Phnom Penh and Saigon.) The Navy ships now were free to maneuver as necessary. The restored mobility enhanced their participation in the evacuation by allowing them to locate additional refugees adrift at sea.


In this capacity, aircraft of HMM-165 conducted daily reconnaissance flights. At first, these flights covered only the Qui Nhon, Nha Trang, and Cam Ranh Bay areas, but eventually they ranged as far south as Vung Tau. Each flight observed the same thing-thousands of Vietnamese fleeing by boat from their homeland. On the coast, the North Vietnamese blitzkrieg was forcing those in its path to flee hastily, and as a result the seaborne evacuation could not keep pace with the flood of refugees. Recovery of these evacuees by the Military Sealift Command ships began off the coast of Cam Ranh Bay and within three days had moved south to Phan Rang and then Phan Thiet. Thus in less than a week, the evacuation effort had become one of scheduling and coordination: matching available Marine security forces with the numerous requests for protection made by commercial ships laden with starving and armed refugees.

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1975 - 1975
Operation New Life (Vietnam)
Operation New Life (23 April – 1 November 1975) was the care and processing on Guam of Vietnamese refugees evacuated from Saigon by Operation Frequent Wind in the closing days of the Vietnam War ... More
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1975 - 1975
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Criteria
The Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Colors) was authorized to be worn by units individually cited for service in military operations in support of the government of Sout ... More
1969
Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation
Criteria
The unit citation of the Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal was awarded certain units by the Vietnamese government for meritorious service during the period 1 March 1961 to 28 March 1974.
1969
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VI Campaign (1968-69)
This campaign was from 2 November 1968 to 22 February 1969. In November 1968 the South Vietnam government with American support began a concentrated effort to expand security in the countryside. This ... More
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1968 - 1969
Vietnam War/Tet 69 Counteroffensive Campaign (1969)
This campaign was from 23 February to 8 June 1969. From Tet 1969 through the month of June, the enemy again tried to sustain an offensive. His inability to do so can be largely attributed to aggressi ... More
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1969 - 1969
Vietnam War/Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
This campaign was from 9 June to 31 October 1969. During the summer and fall of 1969, conduct of operations was increasingly turned over to Vietnamese, US troops withdrew in greater numbers amid reaff ... More
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1969 - 1969
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase III Campaign (1967-68)
This campaign was from 1 June 1967 to 29 January 1968.The conflict in South Vietnam remains basically unchanged. As Operation JUNCTION CITY ended, elements of the U.S. 1st and 25th Infantry Divisions, ... More
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1967 - 1968
Vietnam War/Tet Counteroffensive Campaign (1968)
This campaign was from 30 January to 1 April 1968. On 29 January 1968 the Allies began the Tet-lunar new year expecting the usual 36-hour peaceful holiday truce. Because of the threat of a large-scale ... More
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1968 - 1968
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase IV Campaign (1968)
This campaign was from 2 April to 30 June 1968. During this period friendly forces conducted a number of battalion-size attritional operations against the enemy.

Operations PEGASUS-Lam ... More
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1968 - 1968
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase V Campaign (1968)
This campaign was from 1 July to 1 November 1968. During this period a country-wide effort was begun to restore government control of territory lost to the enemy since the Tet offensive. The enemy att ... More
History Icon
1968 - 1968
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Criteria
The Presidential Unit Citation may be awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or aft ... More
Descriptions
1965 - 1967
1967
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase II Campaign (1966-67)
This campaign was from 1 July 1966 to 31 May 1967. United States operations after 1 July 1966 were a continuation of the earlier counteroffensive campaign. Recognizing the interdependence of political ... More
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1966 - 1967
Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Campaign (1965-66)
This campaign was from 25 December 1965 to 30 June 1966. United States operations after 1 July 1966 were a continuation of the earlier counteroffensive campaign. Recognizing the interdependence of pol ... More
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1965 - 1966
Vietnam War/Defense Campaign (1965)
This campaign was 8 March to 24 December 1965. During this campaign the U.S. objective was to hold off the enemy while gaining time needed to build base camps and logistical facilities. The U.S. also ... More
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1965 - 1965
Korean War Armistice (Occupation)
Although the Korean War Armistice ended combat operations in Korea on 27 July 1953, the Korean Service Medal was issued until June 1954 due to the tense nature of the occupation and garrison duty imme ... More
History Icon
1953 - 1954
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
Criteria
The Presidential Unit Citation may be awarded to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and cobelligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy occurring on or aft ... More
Descriptions
Iwo Jima
1945
Navy Unit Commendation
Criteria
The Navy Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself by outstanding heroism in action against an enemy (but not suff ... More
Descriptions
Iwo Jima
1945
Battle of Iwo Jima
The Battle of Iwo Jima (19 February – 26 March 1945), or Operation Detachment, was a major battle in which the United States Armed Forces fought for and captured the island of Iwo Jima from the ... More
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1945 - 1945
Surrender of Japan, End of WWII
The surrender of the Empire of Japan was announced by Imperial Japan on August 15 and formally signed on September 2, 1945, bringing the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945 ... More
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1945 - 1945
Battle of Bougainville
After New Georgia, the next major operation was an invasion of the island of Bougainville, which was approached by landings at Mono and Stirling in the Treasury Islands on October 25-27, 1943. A Marin ... More
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1943 - 1944
Battle of Guam (1944)
Guam, ringed by reefs, cliffs, and heavy surf, presents a formidable challenge for an attacker. But despite the obstacles, on 21 July, the Americans landed on both sides of the Orote peninsula on the ... More
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1944 - 1944
Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)
The Solomon Islands campaign was a major campaign of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign began with Japanese landings and occupation of several areas in the British Solomon Islands and Bouga ... More
History Icon
1943 - 1944
Navy Unit Commendation
Criteria
The Navy Unit Commendation may be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps that distinguishes itself by outstanding heroism in action against an enemy (but not suff ... More
Descriptions
1Nov-22Dec43
1943
 
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