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3rd Battalion 1st Marines
USMC - 3RD BN-1ST MAR 3.png
3rd Battalion 1st Marines Insignia
Active 1 March 1941 - October 1941
16 February 1942 - 20 March 1947
4 August 1950 - present
Allegiance United States
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Light infantry
Role Locate, close with, and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver, and repel enemy assault through fire and close combat.
Size 1,200
Part of 1st Marine Regiment
1st Marine Division
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
Nickname(s) "Thundering Third"
Motto(s) The Balls of the Corps
Engagements World War II
*Battle of Guadalcanal
*Battle of Peleliu
*Battle of Okinawa
Korean War
*Battle of Inchon
*Battle of Chosin Reservoir
Vietnam War
*Operation Union
*Operation Union II
*Operation Badger Tooth
*Operation Badger Catch
*Operation Napoleon
*Operation Swift Saber
*Operation Marmeluke Thrust
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
*2003 Invasion of Iraq
*Battle of Nasiriyah
*Battle of Haditha
*Operation Phantom Fury
LtCol Bradford W. Tippett

3rd Battalion 1st Marines (3/1) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Camp Horno on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Nicknamed the "Thundering Third", the battalion consists of approximately 1220 Marines and Sailors and falls under the command of the 1st Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division.

Subordinate units



3rd Battalion, 1st Marines was activated on 1 March 1941 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and assigned to the 1st Marine Division. In April of that year, they were relocated to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina; the unit was subsequently deactivated in October of that year.

3rd Battalion 1st Marines' standard.

World War II

On 16 February 1942, 3/1 was re-activated at New River, North Carolina. In July 1942, they deployed to Wellington, New Zealand and participated in the following World War II campaigns: Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa. Beginning in April 1946, they participated in the occupation of North China. The battalion was again deactivated on 20 March 1947 as part of the post-war drawdown of forces.[1]

Korean War

The start of the Korean War saw the reactivation of 3/1 on 4 August 1950 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and their quick deployment to Korea in September. The battalion's first action was at the Battle of Inchon in September 1950. Following the recapture of Seoul, 3/1, along with the rest of the 1st Marine Division, was put back on ship and sailed around to the east coast of Korea. They eventually landed at Wonsan ino late October and from there participated in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. During the battle they were the only battalion from the Chesty Puller's 1st Marine Regiment to make it as far north as Hagaru-ri.[2] After the withdrawal from Chosin, the battalion took part in fighting on the East Central Front and Western Front for the remainder of the war. After the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed, they participated in the defense of the Korean Demilitarized Zone from July 1953 to April 1955. In April 1955, the battalion re-located to MCB Camp Pendleton, California.

From October to December 1962, 3/1 was part of the amphibious task force sent to the Caribbean in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Vietnam War

Older insignia of the 3-1

From January 1966 to May 1971, the battalion fought in the Vietnam War, operating from Chu Lai, Da Nang, Thang Binh, Thanh Thuy, Cua Viet, Ca Lu Combat Base, LZ Stud(Vandergrift), Route 9, An Hoa, and Hoa Vang. In May 1971, they re-located to MCB Camp Pendleton, California.

Persian Gulf War & the 1990s

The battalion deployed to Saudi Arabia in December 1990 in support of Operation Desert Shield and in March 1991, they transitioned to combat operations during Operation Desert Storm. May 1992 brought a short drive up Interstate 5 to Los Angeles to aid local police in Riot Control Operations during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots

February and March 1995 saw a deployment to Somalia to support Operation United Shield, helping the remaining UN troops evacuate. The next major deployment was in October 2000 to support Operation Determined Response.[3]

Global War on Terror

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Marines from 3rd Battalion 1st Marines and 3rd Battalion 5th Marines during the Second Battle of Fallujah.

3rd Battalion, 1st Marines deployed to Kuwait in January 2003 and in March of the year took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including the Battle of Nasiriyah. The battalion re-deployed to Camp Pendleton in the summer of 2003.

The unit then re-deployed to Iraq in mid-2004 and was based near Fallujah. They were the main effort in November 2004 during in Operation Al Fajr (pronounced Al Fad-jer), the retaking of the city of Fallujah. Before the assault commenced, the operation was known as Operation Phantom Fury. 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines was part of the composition of RCT 1. RCT 1 was partly responsible for clearing the infamous Jolan District among others. Alongside RCT 7, four Marine battalions (including 1/3, 1/8, and 3/5) and various US Army units reclaimed the city of Fallujah from unrest.

The battalion re-deployed back to Iraq in September 2005 and were attached to 2nd Marine Regiment (known as Regimental Combat Team 2), and on 20 February 2006 were attached to the 7th Marine Regiment (known as Regimental Combat Team 7) in western Iraq, carrying out security and stabilization operations. The Battalion returned to Camp Pendleton at the end of March.[4]

On 10 April 2007, 3/1 deployed as the ground combat element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They were ordered into Iraq as part of Operation Phantom Thunder. Operating north of Fallujah and Karmah in the Thar Thar region in AO Anaheim, MARSOB units attached to the MEU were operating for several days before the ground combat element began operating on 15 June 2007. They were to establish a coalition presence in an area that had only had 14 days of coalition presence since the invasion in March 2003. 3/1 finished operations in Iraq after 90 days of operating on 20 September 2007 and soon after re-embarked on the naval strike group and set sail for the United States and returned to Camp Pendleton on 17 November 2007.

3/1 deployed to Okinawa in July 2008 as part of the ground combat element of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Haditha killings

As of December 2006, Marines from Kilo Company (K/3/1) were under investigation for their actions on 19 November 2005 after Time magazine published an article accusing them of killing 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including 11 women and children.[5] Residents of Haditha in western Iraq claim that the Marines killed 15 civilians in response to the death of Lance Cpl. Terrazas by an improvised explosive device. The incident is currently under investigation.[6][7] According to a 29 May 2006 report by The Times, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey R. Chessani was the commanding officer and was removed along with Captain Luke McConnell.[8] Due to lack of evidence, the case against LtCol Chessani was dismissed "without prejudice," on 17 June 2008. An appeal was filed 19 June 2008 by the assigned prosecutors in the case.

Operation Enduring Freedom

In April 2010, 3/1 deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion conducted combat operations in the area, including activity in Koshtay and Safar in Garmsir District,[9] and returned to Camp Pendleton in November 2010.[10]

Medal of Honor recipients from 3/1

Marines from the 3/1 have been awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II and the Korean War.

World War II

Korean War

Unit awards

A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. 3/1 has been presented with the following awards:

Streamer Award Year(s) Additional Info
Streamer PUC Navy.PNG Presidential Unit Citation Streamer with one Silver and four Bronze Stars 1942, 1944, 1945, 1950, 1950, 1951, 1966, 1966–1967, 1967, 1968, 2003 Guadalcanal, Peleliu-Ngesebus, Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq
Streamer JMUA.PNG Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer 1992–1993 Somalia
Navy Unit Commendation streamer.png Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with two Bronze Stars 1952–1953, 1968, 1990–1991, 2004-2005 Korea, Vietnam, Southwest Asia, Iraq
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy-Marine) Streamer.jpg Meritorious Unit Commendation with three Bronze Stars 1969, 1971, 1987, 2000 - 2001, 2007 Vietnam, Iraq
Streamer MCE.PNG Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer 2001 Yemen
ADS 1B.PNG American Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star 1941 World War II
Streamer APC.PNG Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer with one Silver and one Bronze Star
Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu, Okinawa
Streamer WWII V.PNG World War II Victory Streamer 1941–1945 Pacific War
WWIIV ASIA.PNG Navy Occupation Service Streamer with "ASIA"

Streamer CS.PNG China Service Streamer with one Bronze Star September 1946 – June 1947 North China
NDS 3B.PNG National Defense Service Streamer with three Bronze Stars 1950–1954, 1961–1974, 1990–1995, 2001–present Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, War on Terrorism
Streamer KS.PNG Korean Service Streamer with two Silver Stars
Inchon-Seoul, Chosin Reservoir, East-Central Front, Western Front
Streamer AFE.PNG Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer 1992–1993 Somalia
SASM 2S 3B.PNG Vietnam Service Streamer with two Silver and two Bronze Stars July 1965 – April 1971, April – December 1975 Chu Lai, Da Nang, Dong Ha, Qui Nhon, Hue, Phu Bai, Quang Tri, Operation New Arrival
Streamer IQCS.PNG Iraq Campaign Streamer 2003-2009 Al Anbar, Fallujah, Haditha, Baghdad, Ramadi, Operation Phantom Fury
Streamer gwotE.PNG Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer March 2003 – December 2004
Streamer gwotS.PNG Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer 2001–present
Streamer KPUC.PNG Korea Presidential Unit Citation Streamer

VMUA PALM.PNG Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Streamer

Streamer RVMUCCA.PNG Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Actions Streamer

See also


  1. Rottman U.S. Marine Corps WWII Order of Battle, p.166.
  2. Russ Breakout. p.185.
  3. "Operation Determined Response". 
  4. Schnell, Cpl. Adam C. "Camp Pendleton-based Marines leave no place for insurgents to hide in western Al Anbar", MarineLink, 6 March 2006.
  5. McGirk, Tim. "Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?", Time , 29 May 2006. (URL accessed 29 May 2006)
  6. "US Marines massacred 15 Iraqi civilians: report", The Hindu, 20 March 2006.
  7. Reuters, 21 March 2006.
  8. Hamdani, Ali and Ned Parker. "Marines and the 'massacre': a neighbour tells of the aftermath", The Times, 29 May 2006. (URL accessed 29 May 2006)
  9. Kovach, Gretel C., "Marines expand their influence in southern Afghanistan", Sign on San Diego, 28 August 2010.
  10. Kovach, Gretel C., "Camp Pendleton's Thundering Third Returns", Sign on San Diego, 16 November 2010.


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  • Russ, Martin (1999). Breakout" – The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea, 1950.. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-029259-4. 
  • O'Donnell, Patrick (2007). We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81573-7. 
  • Rottman, Gordon (2002). U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle - Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939 - 1945. Greenwood Publishing Company. ISBN 0-313-31906-5. 

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