3rd Battalion 7th Marines
|3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment|
|Active||1 January 1941 – present|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Part of||7th Marine Regiment
1st Marine Division
|Garrison/HQ||Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms|
|Nickname||The Cutting Edge|
The 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment (3/7) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. They are based at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms and consist of approximately 800 Marines. The battalion falls under the command of the 7th Marine Regiment and the 1st Marine Division. The battalion has seen combat in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War and was a part of the main effort during the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. They have since deployed five times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as twice in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and continue operations in Afghanistan. The unit has a long, decorated history with countless achievements, and described as "true professionals" by embedded reporters during the 2003 invasion.
World War II
3rd Battalion 7th Marines was activated 1 January 1941 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and was assigned to the 1st Marine Brigade. In February 1941 they were reassigned to the 1st Marine Division. 3/7 participated in the following World War II campaigns:
After the war 3/7 participated in the occupation of northern China from September 1945 to April 1946 and then deactivated 15 April 1946.
The battalion was reactivated 11 September 1950 at Kobe, Japan and assigned to the 1st Marine Division. They deployed in September 1950 to the South Korea and participated in the Inchon-Seoul. Following the recapture of Seoul, the 1st Marine Division was pulled out of northwest Korea and sailed to the east coast where they landed at Wonsan and began to march north towards the Yalu River.
The battalion was in Yudam-ni on the evening of 27–28 November 1950 when the Battle of Chosin Reservoir began. On the first evening, the Marines of "How Company" were overwhelmed on Hill 1403 by waves of Chinese attackers and were eventually ordered to pull back by the commanding officer (CO), Lieutenant Colonel William Harris The battalion continued to fight on the hills around Yudam-ni for the next few days until 1 December when the 5th Marines and 7th Marines were ordered to fight their way back to the 1st Marine Division’s main perimeter at Hagaru-ri. The 300+ remaining members of 3/7 provided the rearguard for the two regiments as they brokeout to Hagaru-ri and were the last Marines to leave the perimeter at Yudam-ni as it was being overrun by Chinese forces 3/7 consolidated with the rest of the division at Hagaru-ri and took part in the fighting breakout towards Koto-ri where, on 7 December, all of the 1st Marine Division’s regiments were together for the first time since the landing at Wonsan in October Of note during the battle, on the morning before their arrival at the Koto-ri perimeter, the battalion’s CO, who during the battle was described as “coming apart” and having an “emotional breakdown and collapse”, disappeared and was never seen again.
During the rest of the war 3/7 took part in the fighting on the East Central Front. In October 1951 it performed the first battalion sized combat helicopter air assault in history in Operation Bumblebee. After the war the battalion participated in the defense of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, July 1953 to March 1955.
The 3rd Battalion, along with the rest of the 7th Marines, was deployed to Vietnam from Camp Pendleton in late May 1965. The 3/7, under he command of LTC Charles H. Bodley, embarked on the amphibious ships USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2), USS Talladega (APA-208), and USS Point Defiance (LSD-31) at Okinawa on 24–26 June and landed near the city of Qui Nhon on 1 July 1965.
On 18 August 1965, the 3/7 took part in Operation Starlite, the first regimental size operation by US forces since the Korean War. The 3/7, along with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, and the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, made a combined amphibious-helicopter assault on fortified enemy positions on the Van Tuong Peninsula. The Marines landed behind enemy lines and, after seven days of fighting, drove the 1st Viet Cong Regiment into the sea.
In January 1966, the 3/7 took part in Operation Mallard along with the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines. It was a sweep of the area 20 miles southwest of Da Nang, in the area later known as Arizona. While the Viet Cong did not engage in major confrontations with the Marines during Operation Mallard, the area would later be a significant battleground for the 3/7 and other Marine battalions in the years to come.
In March 1966 the battalion took part in Operation Texas. On 18 March 1966 an ARVN outpost on Hill 141 west of Quang Ngai City was overrun by the 36th North Vietnamese Regiment. A reaction/relief force was promptly put together consisting of elements from 4 Marine battalions including 3/7 and an ARVN battalion. The allied forces were inserted by ground and air on 20 and 21 March and began closing around the NVA forces. Over the next four days, "Operation Texas" claimed a total of 623 known enemy dead, but at least 57 US Marines and sailors were killed in a series of bitter fights.
Along with the 1/7, 2/7 and elements of the 26th Marines and 51st ARVN regiment, the 3/7th also took part in Operation Oklahoma Hills from March through May 1969, an operation to clear NVA base camps and infiltration routes out of the hills and valleys southwest of Da Nang, South Vietnam's second most important city and a major base for US operations at the time.
For "conspicious gallantry and intrepity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty" and "in the face of vicious enemy fire" during a search and destroy mission in the Que Son-Hiep Duc Valley on 28 August 1969, in which he destroyed several of the enemy and silenced anti-aircraft guns and machinegunist, LCpl Johnny S. Bosser and Lance Corporal Jose F. Jimenez of Kilo Company, 3/7, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Persian Gulf War and the 1990s
Operation United Shield The term "world tour" may mean different things to different people; concerts, sports, but, to the men from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines it meant 10 months away from home.
The Combat Center-based Marines started out in May 1990 on what they though to be a routine unit deployment to Okinawa, Japan.
However, when the unit deployed 3 May, they ended up heading to the Philippines to defend U.S. bases and interests in the area during uprisings in the country. The Marines spent four and a half months there, and were also involved in earthquake relief operations during the month of July.
After leaving the Philippines, the battalion headed to Okinawa, and soon after arriving there left for Korea to participate in Exercise Valiant Blitz '90.
The Marines spent approximately three weeks in Korea, and when they returned to Okinawa they were notified their deployment would be extended and they were heading to Southwest Asia to join allied forces taking part in Operation Desert Shield.
The battalion was scheduled to return to the Combat Center in November 1990, but once they found out about going to Saudi Arabia, stayed on Okinawa for some R&R, and to prepare for their new assignment. They left Okinawa and arrived in Al Jubayl, Saudi Arabia 13 Jan. 1991.
The battalion arrived in Saudi Arabia by plane, ahead of their equipment, which was transported by ship. While they waited for their equipment to arrive, they were attached to Regimental Combat Team-4.
Their mission was to be a foot-mobile infiltration force, and these Marines trained for four weeks rehearsing how they would breach the enemy minefields set before them. "It was easy to train for foot-mobile operations because we didn't have any of our vehicles yet anyway," said one 3/7 Marine.
During their four-week training period, the battalion's equipment and vehicles arrived, and soon after, they were transported by bus to the 1st Marine Division assembly area at the Al Qaraah Air Field, basically a tin airstrip, in northern Saudi Arabia.
The battalion established a defensive position near the airfield for about one week. Then, as part of RCT-4, now named Task Force Grizzly, which mainly consisted of 3/7 and 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, moved to replace Task Force Shepherd 16 February, who were set in along a berm near the Saudi/Kuwaiti border. According to battalion officials, 3/7 then became the lead element of all U.S. forces in the region.
The battalion remained in this position until 21 February, and had placed security forces as far as eight kilometers into Kuwaiti territory.
This was only one of the moves these Marines would make on foot. In executing their missions, these Marines would cover approximately 45 miles, carrying a combat load, over a span of eight days.
The initial mission set before Task Force Grizzly was to breach the first minefield and clear out any enemy resistance along the left flank of where Task Force Ripper, followed by Task Force Papa Bear, would conduct an assault breach on the mine belt and Iraq; positions. Another Marine task force, Taro, would emulate Grizzly's mission on the right flank.
The battalion moved out of Saudi Arabia and into Kuwait three days before the ground offensive began, and then became the first allied infantry force to enter Kuwait. They were soon followed by the other half of the task force, as 2/7 entered Kuwait and came up on their left flank.
From the border, a 20-kilorneter hump took them about five kilometers south of the minefield they were to breach when the ground offensive began. Division recon had sent a team in 16 February to seek a lane in the mine belt for Grizzly to go through, but they couldn't locate one.
The battalion sent its own team out on the nights of 21 and 22 February to search for a lane. The detachment sent out consisted of Marines from their Surveillance, Target and Acquisition (STA) platoon, and some from the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, MCB Camp Pendleton.
They arranged for the suspension of all air and artillery strikes on the positions where these Marines were to breach so the observers could go in and look for a lane. However, the observers were turned back because the strikes continued.
Running out of time before the ground offensive deadline, battalion officials decided to use an assault breach on the minefield and the enemy positions in the area.
Then, one day before the ground offensive was scheduled to begin, forward observers and forward air controllers went forward to the mine belt in hard-back. High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV), protected by vehicles carrying Tube-Launched, Optically Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles and heavy machine guns, to call in strikes on it and me Iraqi bunker complexes beyond.
The rest of the battalion spent about three hours rehearsing the breach operation and issuing orders. However, as the observers were conducting their mission they were hit by enemy artillery fire, and were forced to return to the battalion's attack positions.
After conferring with the battalion's commanders upon their return, the observers were again sent back to the minefield that afternoon. They felt they could get closer to the field and find a lane to pass through, according to battalion officials.
At approximately 4:30 p.m. the battalion received word from the forward observers that they had received enemy prisoners of war.
The observers then moved on their own, getting closer to the mine held during daylight than any other unit had done under cover of darkness.
As the Iraqis came toward the Marines, they monitored their path, and then SSgt. Charles T. Restifo, a Marine from 1st CEB, led two STA Marines, Cpls.. Daniel R. Jordan and James S. Yates, through the field and into the enemy bunker complex.
The three Marines wounded three Iraqi soldiers while clearing the bunkers, and later, an entire company, consisting of 68 Iraqis, began surrendering to these Marines.
The Iraqi company commander pointed out that there were other companies positioned on the left flank of his immediate position, and dial there was another minefield unknown to the allied command about one kilometer to the north. The Iraqi commander said he believed the purpose of the second field was to keep his troops from fleeing north when the invasion began.
The battalion called to the rear and requested permission to hold the complex. This was done because they didn't have the order to attack, but were not about lo give the complex back to the Iraqis.
They received the go ahead from the command, and India Company, led by Capt. John Foldberg, was sent into the complex. However, as the company left its attack position, three Marines were wounded by enemy artillery fire, and had to be evacuated.
After reaching the complex, the security force began to move toward the other Iraqi bunkers on the left flank, and two additional enemy companies surrendered. Engineers opened three lanes in the field for the battalion to traverse. Then, at 10 p.m. the order came down from headquarters to attack and the rest of the battalion was sent through me breach.
Another detachment was then sent ahead to find a breach in the second minefield. Officials noted that the second field was a great concern because of the time involved in having to find a way through.
As a foot-mobile force they didn't move very quickly, and the possibility of being hit by friendly fire grew as each moment passed. They needed to be well away from the area in which they were now held up because Task Force Ripper, followed by Papa Bear, would be coming through, executing an assault breach close to their immediate position.
Amphibious assault vehicles with line charges, and tanks with mine plows were sent to clear one vehicle lane through the second field.
After the lane was complete, the battalion began to follow the path, and had everyone through the field by 5 a.m.
Once through the breach. Grizzly had lo move 12 kilometers north to defensive position on Rippers left flank.
At 6 a.m. 24 March, Task Force Ripper made its assault on the breach and headed deeper into Kuwaiti territory.
While the battalion set up their defensive positions, artillery came through the breach they made to support Ripper's advance.
Once Ripper had moved through the breach they proceeded to Al Jaber Air Base and secured all outside approaches to that objective, which was believed to be the main command post for all enemy forces in Kuwait.
The 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines was then transported by truck to the air base, and as the lead element of Task Force Grizzly, was given the task of cleaning the complex of enemy forces.
They arrived there at 1 p.m., and relieved Ripper, which then headed out for the Kuwaiti International Airport.
Reports came in to the battalion of Iraqi armored personnel carriers, tanks, and as many as 250 enemy soldiers occupying the base.
The Marines prepared the air base for their assault with mortar and artillery fire, and then launched into a one-battalion attack because 2/7 was held up.
A detachment of STA Marines and engineers were sent forward to blow holes in the fence surrounding the base, but while the battalion was in a position to attack, they were hit by enemy artillery fire.
The battalion lost one man, and nine others were wounded as a result of the enemy fire.
"There were oil fields burning in the area, and as night fell, it was so dark you couldn't see your hand in front of your face," said one 3/7 Marine, "There was no way we could get helicopters in to pick up the wounded, so Capt. Todd Kemper led a two- vehicle convoy, carrying corpsmen and the wounded Marines, Four hours later, traveling through mine fields in pitch blackness, the convoy reached the medical facilities."
During the battle, Capt. Neil Morris and Kilo Company got a foothold inside the air base, but the battalion's assault was also halted because the darkness, so the Marines stopped the attack and held on to the ground they had taken.
At dawn the following morning, the attack continued, and by 2 p.m. the battalion had cleared every building on the air base.
However they found that the area had been deserted some time earlier, but picked up a lot of good intelligence and equipment. Two Iraqi T-62 tanks, eight armored personnel carriers, and 40 EPWs were captured, but thought to be stragglers who were looking for allied forces to surrender to.
The battalion left the air base 4 March, returned Manifah Bay, and left Saudi Arabia for the United States 9 March.
Global War on Terror
- 1st Tour
3/7 was part of the main effort, and took a major role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The premier infantry combat unit in the world, they originally deployed in January 2003, moved north in March and reached Baghdad by April - securing several cities, military bases, terrorist training facilities, and various other objectives along the way. They then moved south for a five-month security assignment doing stabilizing operations in Karbala until September 2003. During the assignment, India Company, 3rd Battalion 7th Marines operated in Mahmudiyah, Iraq in support of Task Force Scorpion during July and August 2003. Lima Company, 3rd Battalion 7th Marines were tasked out with the training of the Iraqi Police force, intelligence gathering, disruption and dismantling of the black market weapons trade, and both daytime and clandestine operations in coalition with CIA, Delta Force, and various other units in support to carry out special assignments. Lima Company's 3rd platoon, 2nd squad, is responsible for capturing and detaining some of the highest ranking Ba'ath Party members to date during covert operations south of Baghdad. India Company's training in the Kuwaiti desert and the subsequent invasion was covered in the TV documentary Virgin Soldiers which often airs on Discovery Times and Military Channel.
- 2nd Tour
After returning to the United States in September 2003, the battalion re-deployed in February 2004 to Al Qaim—in western Al Anbar Province, abutting the Syrian border. Their area of responsibility included Husaybah, the primary border-crossing point between Syria and Iraq. They returned from that deployment in September 2004.
- 3rd Tour
From September 2005 to March 2006 3/7 was stationed in Ar Ramadi and made FOB Hurricane Point (HP) and Camp Ramadi their main base of operations. They were faced with daily attacks for the entire deployment.
- 4th Tour (OIF 06-08)
From May 2007 to November 2007 3/7 was once again stationed in Ar Ramadi and made FOB Hurricane Point (HP) and Camp Ramadi their main base of operations. They dispersed throughout the city to increase contact with the local residents. Since the prevalence of the Anbar Awakening, 3/7 Marines began conducting counter-insurgency (COIN) missions rather than the more "kinetic" operations on previous tours.
- 5th Tour
3/7 re-deployed in support of OIF again in August 2008, once again to the Al Qaim area—in western Al Anbar Province, abutting the Syrian border. Their area of responsibility was much larger than any other time, including Husaybah to the west, all the way east to Hit. Due to status of forces agreements with the Iraqi government, operations were very limited and the battalion served in an "operational overwatch" role for the Iraqi forces. They returned from that deployment in March 2009.
- 6th Tour
3/7 deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan from March 2010 to October 2010. During this deployment, the marines of 3/7 faced daily attacks and operated in various locations including Musa Qaleh, Marjah, and Sangin. In Sangin, 3/7 relieved the 40th Commandos of the British Royal Marines and began clearing operations in some of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. After securing a large portion of the district, 3/7 then turned the area of operations over to 3/5. It was reported the marines of 3/7 encountered the most contact with enemy forces since Vietnam. They were also the first to utilize helicopters for reinforcement under fire since the 1970s.
- 7th Tour
In September and October 2011, 3/7 relieved 1/5 in Sangin District for a second tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
- 8th Tour
In September 2013, 3/7 returned to Helmand province, Afghanistan for a third tour in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Medal of Honor recipients
- World War II
- Korean War
- 2ndLt Robert D. Reem - 6 November 1950
- Sgt James E. Johnson - 2 December 1950
- 2ndLt George H. Ramer - 12 September 1951
- SSgt William E. Shuck, Jr. - 3 July 1952
- Pvt Jack W. Kelso - 2 October 1952
- SSgt Lewis G. Watkins - 7 October 1952
- 2ndLt George H. O'Brien, Jr. - 27 October 1952
- Vietnam War
- LCpl Roy M. Wheat - 11 August 1967
- HM3 Wayne M. Caron - 28 July 1968
- LCpl Kenneth L. Worley - 12 August 1968
- LCpl Lester W. Weber - 23 February 1969
- LCpl Jose F. Jimenez - 28 August 1969
- LCpl James D. Howe - 6 May 1970
- Iraq War
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. 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines has been presented with the following awards:
|Presidential Unit Citation Streamer with one Silver and four Bronze Stars||1942, 1944, 1945, 1950, 1950, 1951, 1965–1966, 1966–1967, 1967–1968, 2003||Guadalcanal, Peleliu-Ngesebus, Okinawa, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq|
|Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with two Bronze Stars||1952–1953, 1965, 1990–1991||Korea, Vietnam, Southwest Asia|
|Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer||1968, 1968, 1969, 1990||Vietnam, Philippines|
|Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Streamer|
|American Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star||1941||World War II|
|Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer with one Silver Star||Guadalcanal, Eastern New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu, Okinawa|
|World War II Victory Streamer||1941–1945||Pacific War|
|Navy Occupation Service Streamer with "ASIA"||1945–1946||Northern China|
|China Service Streamer with one Bronze Star||September 1946 - June 1947||North China|
|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|
|Korean Service Streamer with one Silver and two Bronze Stars||Korean War|
|Vietnam Service Streamer with two Silver and three Bronze Stars||July 1965 - April 1971, April - December 1975|
|Southwest Asia Service Streamer with two Bronze Stars||September 1990 - February 1991||Desert Shield, Desert Storm|
|Iraq Campaign Streamer||2003–present|
|Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer||March - May 2003|
|Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer||2001–present|
|Korea Presidential Unit Citation Streamer|
|Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Streamer|
|Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Actions Streamer|
In Popular Culture
In the 1999 film The Sixth Sense Haley Joel Osment's character asks Bruce Willis' character, "Do you want to be a Lance Corporal in Company M, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines?" while offering him a toy soldier.
- Russ (1999), pp.115-121
- Russ (1999), p. 305
- Russ (1999), p. 324
- Russ (1999), p. 326
- Russ (1999), p. 394.
- Russ (1999), p. 121
- Russ (1999), p.168
- Russ (1999), p. 371.
- Parker, Gary W. (1978). A History of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161. Washington, D.C.: United States Marine Corps History and Museums Division. p. 6. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
- Victor J. Villinois, A Brief History of the 7th Marines, 1965-1970, http://www.marzone.com/7thMarines/Hst0001.htm, accessed 22 July 2012.
- Villinois, A Brief History of the 7th Marines.
- Villinois, A Brief History of the 7th Marines
- Charles Richard Smith, U.S. Marines in Vietnam: High Mobility and Standdown, 1969 (Washington, DC: History and Museums Division, Headquarters U. S. Marines, 1988), pp. 103-116.
- Villinois, A Brief History of the 7th Marines.
- Gidget Fuentes (10 November 2006). "Medal of Honor is first for a Marine since Vietnam". Marine Corps Times.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.