2nd Marine Division (United States)

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2nd Marine Division
2nd MarDiv.png
2nd Marine Division insignia
Active Full division active 1 February 1941 – present. 6th Marine Regiment served in World War I
Allegiance  United States
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Infantry division
Role Amphibious Assault
Size 20,000
Part of II Marine Expeditionary Force
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Nickname The Silent Second
Motto Follow Me
Engagements

World War I

World War II

Operation Just Cause
Gulf War

Operation Enduring Freedom

Operation Iraqi Freedom
Commanders
Current
commander
BGen James Lukeman
Notable
commanders
Alfred M. Gray, Jr.
Thomas E. Watson (USMC)
Clayton Barney Vogel
Randolph M. Pate
James L. Jones
Julian C. Smith

The U.S. 2nd Marine Division is a division of the United States Marine Corps, which forms the ground combat element of the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The division is based at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and headquartered at Julian C. Smith Hall.

Subordinate units[edit]

As of 2008, the 2nd Marine Division comprises:

Structure 2nd Marine Division

History[edit]

The regiments of the Second Marine Division were formed before the outbreak of World War I. The 2nd Marine Regiment was formed as the 1st Advance Base Regiment in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 19 June 1913. After actions including Vera Cruz and Haiti, the regiment was redesignated the 2nd Marine Regiment on 1 July 1916.[1] The 6th Marine Regiment was formed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia on 11 July 1917. It shipped over to France and became a part of the 4th Marine Brigade in late 1917.[2] The 8th Marine Regiment was activated 9 October 1917 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.[3] The 10th Marine Regiment was formed up at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia on 25 April 1914 and is the longest serving Marine regiment of unbroken service of all Marine regiments.[4]

World War I[edit]

The 6th Marine Regiment was dispatched to France during late 1917 to early 1918. There, they were formed up with the 5th Marine Regiment and the 6th Machine Gun Battalion to create the 4th Marine Brigade. This brigade was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division. They participated in many of the final battles of World War I including the Aisne Defensive, Battle of Belleau Wood, Battle of Château-Thierry (1918), Battle of Saint-Mihiel, Battle of Blanc Mont Ridge, and the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Because the marines of the 4th Marine Brigade were aggressive in both defense as well as offense during the Battle of Belleau Wood, the Germans held a very high opinion of them. In recognition of these achievements, the woods were renamed "Bois de la Brigade de Marine. In addition, the legend of the marines getting their nickname "Devil Dogs" also occurred during this battle. For recognition of their many battle accomplishments, the marines of the 5th Marine Regiment, 6th Marine Regiment, and 6th Machine Gun Battalion were awarded the French croix de guerre three times. As a result, these units are authorized to wear the fourragère of the croix de guerre (seen in the unit's logo). The fourragère thereafter became part of the uniform of these units, and all members of the modern 5th and 6th Marine Regiments are authorized to wear the fourragère while serving with the regiment.

World War II[edit]

Staff Sergeant Timerlate Kirven (left) and Corporal Samuel J. Love, Sr., the first African-American Marines to be decorated with Purple Hearts by the 2nd Marine Division for the battle of Saipan.

The 2nd Marine Division was officially organized on 1 February 1941 at Camp Elliott, California by change of designation from the 2nd Marine Brigade.[5] By mid-1941, because of the growing threat of a German invasion to Iceland, the 6th Marine Regiment, a battalion from 10th Marines and other scattered units were pulled from the division and sent to garrison Reykjavík. After the outbreak of war the 8th Marine Regiment with an assortment of other division assets formed the 2nd Marine Brigade and were dispatched to garrison American Samoa.[6]

During World War II, the 2nd Marine Division (Headquarters) participated in operations in the Pacific Theater of Operations:

  • The Battle of Okinawa (floating Reserve) – 1 April to 10 April 1945. (Detachment of Headquarters and the 8th Marines, reinforced, from 1 to 30 June 1945).

Elements of the Division were part of the occupation of Nagasaki, arriving twenty-five days after the nuclear strike.[citation needed]

The 2nd and 8th Marines (reinforced by other units of the 2nd Marine Division) were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation while attached to the 1st Marine Division from 7 August and 4 November 1942, respectively, for the Guadalcanal operation.[citation needed]

The 2nd Marine Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands, 20 –24 November 1943: "For outstanding performance in combat during the seizure and occupation of the Japanese-held Atoll of Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, November 20 to 24, 1943. Forced by the treacherous coral reefs to disembark from their landing craft hundreds of yards off the beach, the Second Marine Division (Reinforced) became a highly vulnerable target for devastating Japanese fire. Dauntlessly advancing in spite of rapidly mounting losses, the Marines fought a gallant battle against crushing odds, clearing the limited beachheads of snipers and machine guns, reducing powerfully fortified enemy positions and completely annihilating the fanatically determined and strongly entrenched Japanese forces. By the successful occupation of Tarawa, the Second Marine Division (Reinforced) has provided our forces with highly strategic and important air and land bases from which to continue future operations against the enemy; by the valiant fighting spirit of these men, their heroic fortitude under punishing fire and their relentless perseverance in waging this epic battle in the Central Pacific, they have upheld the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

1950s through the 1980s[edit]

The Division didn't take part in a major action again until 1958 when elements participated in the U.S. intervention into the Lebanon crisis of 1958. 2nd Marine Division units helped to reinforce Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and landed in the Dominican Republic in 1965 as part of Operation Power Pack. Other peacekeeping operations carried on by the Division include being part of the Multi National Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon from August 1982 until February 1984. The Division suffered the loss of 241 Marines and Sailors during the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing. Towards the end of the 1980s, Division Marines participated in Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama.[citation needed]

The Gulf War & the 1990s[edit]

The 1990s began with elements of the Division participating in Operation Sharp Edge, the evacuation of American and allied civilians out of war torn Liberia. This was followed by deployments to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield and then the liberation of Kuwait in Operation Desert Storm. Following the war, elements of the Division participated in Operation Provide Comfort.[citation needed]

Global War on Terror[edit]

Two soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment in Fallujah, Iraq, during July 2005

Elements of the 2nd Marine Division deployed to Kuwait in early 2003 to reinforce the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. These units formed a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and were called Task Force Tarawa. Task Force Tarawa crossed into Iraq on the first day of the ground war with the initial task of seizing Jalibah airfield in southern Iraq. Following this, the Task Force pushed north and took part in a major battle in the town of Nasiriyah. After the war, these Marines were moved north to Al Kut where they provided security and stabilization operations in central Iraq.[citation needed]

The 2nd Marine Division deployed to Camp Fallujah, Iraq as the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) headquarters in January 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III (OIF III) (later redesignated OIF 04-06) to relieve the 1st Marine Division in the Al Anbar province. The division again deployed for another year long tour at Camp Fallujah from 2007 to 2008.[citation needed]

Insignia[edit]

A 2nd Marine Division insignia adorns a memorial at Camp Lejeune

The scarlet and gold spearhead-shaped shoulder patch was designed and authorized in late 1943 for wear by 2nd Marine Division units serving in the Pacific Theater. The patch centers on a hand holding a torch, with the stars of the Southern Cross constellation as a reference to Guadalcanal.[7]

Although the Marine Corps officially disallowed shoulder patches in 1947, the insignia still appears on buildings, signs, documents, and non-uniform clothing.[8] The insignia of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune retains the spearhead shape and general color scheme of the 2nd Marine Division.[9]

Unit awards[edit]

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. The 2nd Marine Division has been presented with the following awards:[10]

Presidential Unit Citation
Navy Unit Commendation
Marine Corps Expeditionary ribbon.svg
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
Bronze star
American Defense Service Medal with one bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver Star and three bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation ribbon.svg
Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia & European clasps
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with two bronze stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with two bronze stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with three bronze stars
Iraq Campaign ribbon.svg
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global war terrorism service ribbon.gif
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
Bibliography
  • Johnston, Richard (1948). Follow Me: The Story of the Second Marine Division in World War II. New York: Random House. ASIN B000WLAD86. 
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