SPOTLIGHT ON MARINE HEROES #9

 

THE THIRD MARINE DIVISION IN WORLD WAR II

 

The Third Marine Division was a workhorse of the Pacific war. The "Fighting Third" saw ground combat in three campaigns and served from the early stages of World War II right through the climactic battles at the end of the war.

Click HERE to read a short history of the 3rd MarDiv in
World War II and learn the story of the Division insignia.

DATE OF ACTIVATION

16 September 1942
at Camp Elliott, California

CAMPAIGN PARTICIPATION

Occupation and Defense of Cape Torokina, Bougainville
1 November–15 December 1943
(Operation BACKHANDER)

Consolidation of the Northern Solomons
15 December 1943–9 January 1944
(Operation BACKHANDER)

Admiralty Island Landings
20 March–12 April 1944
(Operation BREWER)

Capture and Occupation of Guam
21 July–15 August 1944
(Operation FORAGER)

Assault and Occupation of Iwo Jima
21 February–16 March 1945
(Operation DETACHMENT)

WORLD WAR II ERA AWARDS TO THE
3RD MARINE DIVISION



Presidential Unit Citation w/2 Bronze Stars
Navy Unit Commendation w/ 4 Bronze Stars
Asiatic–Pacific Campaign Streamer w/1 Silver Star
World War II Victory Streamer

MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS

Pfc Henry Gurke, USMC, 3rd Raider Battalion
2ndLt John Leims, USMCR, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines
Pfc Leonard Mason, USMC, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines
Sgt Robert Owens, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines
Pfc Luther Skaggs, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines
Sgt Herbert Thomas, USMCR, 3rd Marines
Pvt Wilson Watson, USMCR, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines
Cpl Hershel Williams, USMCR, 1st Battalion, 21st Marines
Capt Louis Wilson, USMC, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines
Pfc Frank P. Witek, USMCR, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines

The division had three organic Marine infantry regiments:

3rd Marine Regiment
9th Marine Regiment
21st Marine Regiment

The division had one organic artillery regiment:

12th Marine Regiment

From September 1942–August 1944 the division had one organic engineer regiment:

19th Marine Regiment

The 3rd MarDiv had numerous organic units of battalion–size. Among them were the following:

Heaquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division
3rd Tank Battalion
3rd Special Weapons Battalion (deactivated in April 1944)
3rd Parachute Battalion (reassigned to the FMF in January 1943)
3rd Motor Transport Battalion
3rd Amphibian Tractor Battalion (reassigned to the FMF in December 1944)
3rd Engineer Battalion (1st Battalion, 19th Marines)
3rd Pioneer Battalion (2nd Battalion, 19th Marines)
3rd Service Battalion
3rd Medical Battalion
25th Naval Construction Battalion (3rd Battalion, 19th Marines)


THE THIRD MARINE DIVISION IN COLOR

 


(left) Marines wading ashore under fire on Bougainville—1 November 1943

USMC photo


(left) Marines trudge forward through calf–deep mud on the Numa Numa Trail, Bougainville—November 1943

W–Day on Guam–The 3rd Marine Division assaults the beachhead under heavy fire–21 July 1944

On Guam, the 3rd MarDiv suffered 619 Marines killed and 3,007 wounded in action.

USMC photo


(left) M4 medium tanks of the 3rd Tank Battalion advancing on Guam from the Asan beachhead, July 1944

USMC photo


(left) Iwo Jima–1945. An infantry Marine moves out under fire across the badlands on the northern sector of the island.

On Iwo Jima, the 3rd MarDiv suffered 1,131 Marines killed and 4,438 Marines wounded in action.


(left) Iwo Jima–March 1945. 75mm half tracks of the 9th Marines heavy weapons co. firing at Japanese positions on the northern sector of the island.

USMC photo

SOURCES USED:
Heroes US Marine Corps 1861–1955 by Jane Blakeney
US Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle by Gordon Rottman
Lineage and History of the 3rd Marine Division, USMC

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