1st Force Reconnaissance Company
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|1st Force Reconnaissance Company|
Seal of the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company
|Active||19 June 1957 – 26 October 2006|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Type||Special Operations Capable|
|Part of||Fleet Marine Force, Pacific (FMFPac)
|Garrison/HQ||Camp Margarita, Area 33 – MCB Camp Pendleton, CA|
Operation Desert Shield
Operation Desert Storm
Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal
The First Force Reconnaissance Company (commonly referred to as the 1st Force Recon) was the deep reconnaissance/direct action unit of the United States Marine Corps, that was assigned to the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific and its subordinate elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Most of the operators went to the newly created Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), to the 1st Marine Special Operation Battalion.
The company augmented active-duty forces or were mobilized to conduct pre-assault and deep post-assault reconnaissance and surveillance in support of Expeditionary Strike Group Three and I Marine Expeditionary Force and its subordinate elements; 11th, 13th and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
In 1957, 1st FORECON contained an amphib recon platoon, deep recon platoon, and a pathfinder platoon.
By 1960, 1st Force Recon Company was located at Camp Del Mar (21 Area) and 13 Area of MCB Camp Pendleton and consisted of 6 reconnaissance platoons. One platoon rotated to Okinawa every 13 months to support the 3rd Marine Division and to provide pre-assault beach reconnaissance and post assault deep recon missions. The detached platoon was known as the Subordinate Unit #1, 1st (or 2nd, 3rd, etc.) Recon platoon.
As of 2006, before its eve of deactivation, its company table of organization was registered at a full strength of six reconnaissance platoons; one headquarters and service platoon, two direct action platoons, two deep recon platoons, and one scout sniper platoon augmented from 1st Marine Division's Scout Sniper company.
- Deployed during August–October 1965 to the Republic of Vietnam, and assigned to the 3d Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force
- Reassigned during November 1966 to the 1st Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force
- Participated in the war in Vietnam, October 1965 – August 1970, Operating from: Da Nang, Dong Ha, Hue, Phu Bai, Chu Lai, and An Hoe
- Relocated during August 1970 to Camp Pendleton, California, and assigned to the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade, Fleet Marine Force
- Deactivated 30 September 1974
- Reactivated 30 September 1986 at Camp Pendleton, California, as 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, I Marine Amphibious Force, Fleet Marine Force
- I Marine Amphibious Force redesignated 5 February 1988 as I Marine Expeditionary Force
- Participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Southwest Asia, September 1990 – April 1991
- Reassigned During June 1998 to Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Fleet Marine Force
- Deactivated 26 October 2006
First Force Reconnaissance Company was activated on 19 June 1957 at Camp Margarita (Area 33), Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. It was formed from the Reconnaissance Platoon of Marine Corps Test Unit#1 that was assigned to take over the guideon of 1st Amphibious Reconnaissance Company, that was under command of Captain "Cycle" Michael Sparks. Many Marines from the amphib recon company and 1st Reconnaissance Battalion augmented the new Fleet Marine Force-level reconnaissance capabilities to force commanders.
The Company's first company commander was Major Bruce F. Meyers, with Captain Joseph Z. Taylor as his executive officer. Meyers was MCTU#1's project test officer that led the development and refinement of submarine insertions/extractions techniques, low level static line and military free fall parachute insertion, the closed-circuit SCUBA procedures and capabilities developed the initial deep reconnaissance capability within the Department of Defense.
By 1958, approximately half of the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company was reassigned and transferred to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to form the 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company; under command of Joseph Z. Taylor, promoted to Major.
On 26 October 2006, 1st Force Reconnaissance followed the same footsteps as the 2nd Force Recon Company, also too becoming deactivated. The remaining force recon Marines either integrated into the Deep Recon Platoons (DRP) of 1st and 3rd Division Recon Battalions, or folded into 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion (1st MSOB) of the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC).
Post-Korean War 
1st Platoon, Sub Unit #1, embarked onto the USS Cook APD and sailed for southern Thailand, to the Royal Thai Navy base of Sattahip, in December 1964. The 1st Platoon conducted reconnaissance patrols with the Royal Thai Marine Corps, with one Thai Marine attached to each of the 4-man force recon teams. By the end of January, they finished their recon operations in Thailand and sailed for Vietnam for the planned amphibious landings in March 1965.
Vietnam War 
Prior to the first of many Marine amphibious landings made by the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade throughout March 1965, 1st Platoon, Sub Unit #1, 1st Force Reconnaissance Company (-), conducted preliminary reconnaissance of the planned amphibious beach landings. The sub unit was the first Force Recon unit to serve in Republic of Vietnam and was led by Captain David Whittingham. Their first mission was to reconnoiter the area around Cam Ranh Bay for its selection as major port for the U.S forces in south Vietnam, they also carried out reconnaissance and survey of the beaches around Da Nang prior to the Marine Battalion landing.
By early May 1965, the 2nd Platoon had joined 1st Platoon with the Subordinate Unit #1 and its both platoons were assigned to the United States Special Forces A-Team, A-103, conducting specialized reconnaissance and combat raiding missions. They operated from Da Nang, Phu Bai, Chu Lai, Gia Vuc and Kham Duc, in the I Corps Tactical Zone (ICTZ). Their mission were to collect any enemy intelligence in the mountain approaches to the Marines' tactical area of operation along the Laos border, and to report any findings directly to the general staff of the III Marine Amphibious Force.
November 1965, 2nd Platoon was attached to the Special Forces team A-106 at Ba To. A combine patrol from Ba To was attacked on the night of the 16 December, three Marines a Green Beret Sergeant and 10 members of the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) were killed. By mid-December 1965, 3rd platoon arrived to the Republic of Vietnam and was attached to Special Forces team A-107 at Tra Bong. The rest of the Force Recon Company (its remaining two platoons, 4th and 5th Plt.) arrived in June 1965.
During its beginning formation within the 1st Marine Division, 1st Force Recon conducted sustainment training in obstacle clearing for landing zone preparation in support of early-Marine Corps helicopter-borne operations; and other mission-essential amphibious reconnaissance, parachute insertion, and pathfinder tasks. Because of the efforts made by Meyers and his other adjoining Marine and Navy parachute testers, they developed the Helicopter Rope Suspension methods, plus invented the Special Personnel Insertion/Extraction (SPIE) rigging that are widely used by Special Operations Forces services worldwide.
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, 1st Force Recon Company trained in a variety of locations during their Unit Training Phase.
These locations included:
- Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana
- Fort Lewis, Washington
- Mountain Warfare Training Center, California
- Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona
- Fort Irwin Military Reservation, California
- Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California
- Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California
In popular culture 
- 1st Force Recon was the unit of the main character Sgt. Paul Jackson in the Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare video game.
- Jake Sully in Avatar was in 1st Force Recon.
Correction on the location of 1st Force Reconnaissance Company Garrison/HQ 1st Reconnaissance Battalion is located at Camp Margarita (33 Area), not 1st Reconnaissance Company who was located at Camp Las Flores, (41 Area) by its de-activation in 2006.
- Marine widow travels to Vietnam and finds her MIA husband's F-4 jet crash site who was supporting 1st Force Recon
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: 1st Force Reconnaissance Company|
- Bruce F. Meyers, Fortune Favors the Brave: The Story of First Force Recon, (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000).