2nd Battalion 4th Marines
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines (2/4) is an infantry battalion of the United States Marine Corps. The battalion, nicknamed the Magnificent Bastards, is based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California and are a part of the 5th Marine Regiment and 1st Marine Division.
2nd Battalion, 4th Marines was constituted in April 1914 during World War I when it was activated as one of the three battalions of the 4th Marine Regiment. Shortly after being activated, the battalion deployed to Mexico as part of the punitive expedition lead by General John J. Pershing. The presence of American forces offshore proved to be sufficient enough pressure on the Mexican government to act to end the threat to Americans.
In 1916, civil war broke out in the Dominican Republic and the Dominican Government was unable to end the strife. President Woodrow Wilson dispatched American forces. 2/4 went ashore in the Dominican Republic and, after several clashes with rebel forces, successfully put down the revolution. Occupation duty followed pending the establishment of an elected government. The battalion departed the Dominican Republic in August 1924 for San Diego, California.
During October 1926 the Federal government directed the Marine Corps to furnish units to guard the mail because the postal service had experienced several robberies. The battalion was directed to safeguard mail transported by rail and truck west of the Mississippi river. The robberies promptly stopped.
In April 1927 the battalion was ordered to Tientsin, China. Their mission was to reinforce U.S. forces already in place against rebelling Chinese nationalist forces. On 4 October 1927, 2/4 was re-designated as 2nd Battalion, 12th Marines. With this re-designation, 2/4's lineage and honors were transferred to 2/12. A new 2/4 would be activated in the future, but for lineage and honors purposes it would in no way be connected with the old 2/4.
On 18 September 1932 in Shanghai, China the new 2/4 was activated. This began the lineage of the 2/4 we know today. The battalion supported the American sector of Shanghai after fighting nearby had broken out between Chinese and Japanese forces. In May 1940 2/4 got a new Battalion XO. His name was Chesty Puller. Later he became the Battalion's CO. The battalion's presence deterred a Japanese takeover of the settlement after they had driven Chinese forces from the surrounding area.
World War II
Deteriorating relations between the United States and Japan caused the 4th Marines to be withdrawn from China in November 1941. The battalion transferred to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines and was given the task of protecting the Olongapo Naval Station. The battalion was ordered to move to the island fortress of Corregidor in the mouth of Manila Bay after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After unrelenting bombardment the Japanese launched an amphibious assault on the island in May 1942. Though under-equipped and outnumbered, the Fourth Marine Regiment fought valiantly; they were eventually forced to surrender on 6 May 1942 under orders from Major General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright IV, U.S. Army.
On 1 February 1944, the battalion was reactivated on Guadalcanal with the Marines from Fourth Battalion, First Raider Regiment. The battalion's first assignment was to take part in the assault on Emirau Island. During the remainder of World War II the battalion saw action in the Battles of Guam (2/4 was the first ashore) and of Okinawa. On Okinawa, the battalion was involved in the fighting for the Motobu Peninsula, the capture of Naha, and the assault on the Oruku Peninsula. Once organized resistance ended, the regiment was redeployed to Guam to prepare for the assault on mainland Japan.
Following the surrender of Japan, Fourth Marines seized and occupied the large naval base at Yokosuka in Tokyo Bay. This gesture was designed to avenge the capture of the "Old Fourth" on Corregidor. The Marines of Second Battalion, Fourth Marines were the first American combat troops to set foot in Mainland Japan, landing on Futtsu Cape. They were sent ashore to ensure the approaches to Tokyo Bay were secure. During the latter part of 1945 the battalion maintained perimeter defense for the Yokosuka Naval Base. On 1 January 1946 the battalion was relieved of all duties in Japan and sailed for Camp Pendleton, California. In February, as part of the demobilization, 2/4 was deactivated. 2/4 was reactivated on 8 March 1946 in Tsingtao, China. Its first mission was to assist in repatriation of Japanese civilian and military personnel, as well as provide security for the American Naval base at Tsingtao. The battalion was relieved of this mission and sailed for Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in September 1946. 2/4 was again deactivated on 18 November 1947.
The 1950s and 1960s
The battalion was reactivated on 2 September 1952 for the Korean War; however, they did not see action because of the end of hostilities. The battalion arrived in Japan as part of the Fourth Marines on 24 August 1953 and was assigned the mission of defending southern Japan. To maintain its combat readiness the battalion trained in amphibious operations on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The Fourth Marine Regiment was transferred to Hawaii in 1953 and here the battalion became part of the First Marine Brigade. The battalion then settled down for a ten-year tour of duty.
2nd Battalion 4th Marines was once again committed to ground combat operations, this time in South Vietnam. In May 1965 the battalion landed at LZ Blue (west of Green Beach) near Chu Lai. The first combined land operation of the war was Operation Lien Ket 4 between 2/4 and 3rd battalion VN Marine Corps on July 28. The first major engagement for the battalion was Operation Starlite (the first regimental sized battle for American forces since the Korean War) in August 1965. It was a combined amphibious/helicopterborne assault on enemy fortified positions of the Van Tuong Peninsula, 15 miles (24 km) south of the Chu Lai Air Base. Six days after the operation had begun; the 1st Vietcong Regiment was decisively defeated. During this operation, Lance Corporal Joe C. Paul (H Co.) became the battalion's first Medal of Honor recipient. Total losses for both sides were 52 Marines killed and over 200 were wounded. VC losses were over 600 killed and 9 POW's. There were 2 Medals of Honor, 6 Navy Crosses and 14 Silver Stars. Another major operation in 65 was Operation Harvest Moon.
Beginning in 1966, combat operations measurably increased with the battalion participating in Operation Double Eagle and Operation Hastings, a coordinated Marine/Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) search and destroy mission. Operation Prairie was one of the first operations that was fought in the hills west of Leatherneck Square. During this operation, Captain Howard V. Lee (E Co.) became the battalion's second Medal of Honor recipient. Total Marines losses were put at 200 killed and over 1000 wounded. The 324B NVA Division losses were put at 1329 killed and 7 POW's. On 25 June 1966 Operation Jay began about 30 kilometers northwest of Huế, and lasted nine days. 2/4 landed north of the North Vietnamese 812th Main Force Battalion, and other Marine units landed south of the enemy's position. Caught in between the two Marine units, the enemy suffered over 80 dead in nine days of fighting. The moniker of "The Magnificent Bastards" was first used by the incoming Battalion Commander, Lt.Col. Joseph R. (Bull) Fisher the day he assumed his command on 4 June 1964. On 24 September 1966, Battalion Order No. 5600.1B, was signed. It officially added (by legal order) the lower pennant with the nickname the "Magnificent Bastards".
The next major confrontation was with 324B NVA Division (8,000 to 10,000 soldiers) came during the siege of Con Thien in the summer and fall of 1967. This was called Operation Kingfisher and ran from 16 July through 31 October. The battalion arrived in the area around the second week of September. On the 14th Echo Company lost 5 men due to NVA artillery north of Cam Lo. On the 16th and 17th Đông Hà Combat Base reported over 17" rain in one 24-hour period around Con Thien. 25 September was the largest single day for NVA artillery. The Hill and surrounding areas was hit with nearly 1500(130mm & 152mm)rounds. The battalion took several KIA. 2/4 was involved in three major battles during this period. Phu Oc (9/21), Washout Bridge or "Bastard's Bridge" (10/14) and Hill 48 (10/25-27). The battalion commanding officer LtCol James W Hammond was wounded and the battalion executive officer was killed. The enemy was stopped in his attempt to overrun the American outpost. 2/4 started this operation with 952 Marines. Six weeks later they left Leatherneck Square with about 300 men still fit for duty. Total casualties for Operation Kingfisher were 340 Marines killed, over 3000 Marines wounded. NVA losses were over 1100 killed and 5 POW's. During this period of bloody fighting Sergeant Paul H. Foster (CP) and Lance Corporal Jedh Colby Barker (Fox Co.) were awarded the Medal of Honor (posthumously) for their actions during these battles. There were also nine Navy Cross awarded at this time. In September General Westmoreland (Commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam) declared that the fighting on the DMZ around Con Thien was the heaviest in conventional firepower in the history of warfare. With the help of 71 B-52 sorties, offshore Naval gunfire and the support of all the fire bases in Northern I Corps, the Marines held their ground. On 28 October Lt. General Cushman (head of all Marines in Vietnam) sent a message to the Battalion that read (last line) "2/4 has met and beaten the best the enemy had to offer. Well done".
The 1968 Tet Offensive resulted in an increase in fighting along the DMZ. A bitter clash started 30 April and ran through 3 May between 2/4 and 320th NVA Division (8,000 to 10,000 soldiers) that broke out northeast of Đông Hà. To protect the base and also the 3rd Marine Division headquarters, 2/4 reinforced by B/1/3 was moved forward to seize the fortified village and area around Dai Do. After three days of bloody fighting the cost was very high for both sides. The enemy lost nearly 1500 killed, while 2/4 suffered 81 dead and 397 wounded. The battalion commanding officer LtCol. William "Wild Bill" Weise received the Navy Cross and two company commanders were awarded the Medals of Honor for their bravery and leadership; Captain James E. Livingston (E Co.) and Captain Jay R. Vargas (G Co.). By 15 May the NVA were driven back north across the DMZ. Total losses for the Marines were 233 killed and 821 wounded. The NVA's losses were put at 2945 killed and 47 POW's.
The other major operations that 2/4 was involved in were Operation Lancaster ll ran from 21 January to 23 November 1968. This was a multiple battalion operation was to secure Route 9 between Cam Lộ and Ca Lu. Total losses were 359 Marines killed 1713 WIA; NVA losses were put at 1801.Operation Napoleon ran from 29 February to 12 September 68. Another multi-battalion operation that covered the Cua Viet river area near the South China Sea. Total losses were put at 117 Marines killed; NVA losses were put at 3,495. Operation Scotland II This multi-battalion operation that ran from 15 April of 68 to 28 February 69 in the Khe Sanh area. Total losses were put at 435 Marines killed 2,396 WIA; NVA losses were put at 3,304.
On 6 November 1969, 2/4 was withdrawn to Okinawa as part of the United States policy of gradually turning the war over to the South Vietnamese.
In the early 1970s, 2/4 participated with other units from the 3rd Marine Division in providing Battalion Landing Teams as part of the Special Landing Force (SLF) off the coast of Vietnam. During the 1972 Easter Offensive, 2/4 actively supported Vietnamese Marines, U.S. Army Rangers and U.S. advisors ashore, from nearby amphibious ships.
During the summer of 1972 the battalion participated in a massive disaster relief effort, Operation Saklolo conducted in the northern part of the Philippines. On 12 April 1975, 2/4 took part in Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Americans from Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On 29–30 April they took part in Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon.
Post-Vietnam and the 1980s
The battalion moved to MCB Camp Lejeune to join the 2nd Marine Regiment in October 1981; they began participating in the Unit Deployment Program (UDP), returning to Camp Schawb, Okinawa after 18 months at Camp Lejeune. While there they participated in several operations and served as the Primary Air Alert Force for the Marine Corps three consecutive years in a row from 1981 to 1985. During the late 1980s, 2/4 was reassigned to the 8th Marine Regiment to participate in the dedicated Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), rotation to the Mediterranean.
The battalion was once again called upon for a real-world contingency mission during the summer of 1990. The West African nation of Liberia was experiencing a civil war. The battalion, as the ground combat element (GCE) for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit set sail from Toulon, France for Operation Sharp Edge. On 5 August, the battalion was committed to go ashore to take defensive positions at the U.S. Embassy to protect U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. The Marines embarked on amphibious shipping on 21 August after having successfully completed a Non-combatant evacuation operation of 1,650 Americans and foreign nationals.
The Gulf War and the 1990s
In late December 1990, 2/4 deployed by air to Al Jabayl, Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield. During Operation Desert Storm the battalion fought as a Mechanized Infantry Armor Task force (Task Force Spartan) during the 2nd Marine Division's attack into Kuwait. After the cease fire the battalion remained in Kuwait with Eighth Marines and conducted security and contingency operations west of Kuwait City. 2/4 was the last Marine infantry battalion to withdraw from Kuwait, arriving in the U.S. on 15 May 1991.
2/4 participated in Operation Sea Signal. During this deployment, over 2,500 Haitian immigrants were processed aboard the USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), CMV Ivan Franco, and CMV Griuzy. 2/4 also provided security for refugee camps aboard the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during this operation.
On 25 July 1994, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, then part of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was redesignated 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. From 25 July to 1 September 1994, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines remained in a cadre status. On 2 September 1994 the battalion was moved to Camp Pendleton, California. The battalion replaced 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines at the 5th Marine Regiment
In December 1998, 2/4 participated as the Battalion Landing Team (BLT) for the 31 Marine Expeditionary Unit Special Operations Capable (MEUSOC). The operation, named "Desert Fox", was a retaliation to Saddam Hussein's refusal to comply with U.N. Security Council Resolutions that led to a coalition air bombing campaign. The Marines of 2/4 were also set up in a defense at and around Muttla ridge, in Kuwait, to act as a deterrent for any Iraqi attack on Kuwait that might have followed the air campaign.
Global War on Terror
From September to December 2001, 2/4 served as the Quick Reaction Force during Operation Noble Eagle for the western half of the United States in response to the 11 September attacks. Leaving shortly after this mission for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in Okinawa, 2/4 was called upon to give humanitarian aid to East Timor and served in country from October to November 2002.
In February 2004, “The Magnificent Bastards” deployed to Ramadi, Iraq, the provincial capital of the Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion conducted support and stability operations (SASO) until 6 April when insurgent activity simultaneously bursted into a two-day barrage of toe to toe fighting. From then on until their departure in October, insurgent activity was still sporadic and nearly equal in ferocity as the initial battle of 6 and 7 April, therefore the deployment focused on counter-insurgency operations for the remainder of the tour. The unit continued to serve with distinction while engaging insurgent forces in Iraq. Tragically, four scout snipers from 2/4 were killed on a roof top on 21 June 2004 while sleeping . While insurgents stole a sniper rifle, it was later recovered by fellow 5th Marines battalion, 3/5, during a mission in Habbaniyah in 2006. 2/4 returned to Camp Pendleton in October 2004.
The battalion then served as part of the Unit Deployment Program tour in Okinawa, mainland Japan, and the Philippines from April to December 2005 with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and in early 2006 they were designated the Battalion Landing Team for the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The battalion arrived in Iraq again as part of the 15th MEU in November 2006. During which Fox and Echo company conducted operations in Ar Ramadi, while the BLT main body operated out of Haditha. Tragically, in February 2007, Battalion Sergeant Major Joseph Ellis was falsely reported to have been killed in a helicopter crash that occurred northwest of Baghdad. He was actually killed by a suicide bomber at a checkpoint.
From January to July 2008, 2/4 deployed to Okinawa, Japan, as the Battalion Landing Team for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. BLT 2/4 spent time in the Philippines for Balikatan 2008, while Fox Company conducted training exercises in Indonesia. In May 2008, the 31st MEU supported Operation Response off the coast of Burma, due to the Cyclone Nargis making landfall in the Irrawaddy Delta.
BLT 2/4 deployed in September 2009 as the Battalion Landing Team for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The BLT completed training exercises simultaneously with indigenous forces in both East Timor and Indonesia. When not in the jungle training, Marines off the USS Cleveland and USS Rushmore conducted live fire and maneuver training and Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) with the KORMARS (Indonesian Marines). Additionally, the BLT conducted Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) and a patrolling package with the Australian Army.
In May 2010, Echo and Fox Company deployed as reduced infantry companies to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, engaging in combat operations in Marjah and Sangin respectively.
In September 2011, the battalion deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, as part of Regimental Combat Team 6 (RCT-6), assuming responsibility for the districts of Now Zad and Musa Qal'ah. Golf company freed a village from a Taliban stranglehold, allowing villagers to return and vote in district council elections for the first time in history. Echo, Fox and Golf companies also accomplished another first, establishing a police station in another strategically located village where none had existed before. Weapons Company and Golf Company made significant strides engaging locals in Now Zad to help spur Afghan police force growth and improve security. Last but not least, H&S Company supported the retrograde by shipping 25 ISO containers of equipment back to Camp Leatherneck. The battalion returned to Camp Pendleton in April 2012 and had a change of command ceremony in June 2012.
In late May 2013, 2/4 deployed to Okinawa, Japan, as a Battalion Landing Team (BLT) as part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. In late June 2013, BLT 2/4 embarked on ships from Task Force 76 and began a three month patrol in the Western Pacific Ocean. During the patrol, BLT 2/4 participated in two major exercises in Australia: Exercise Talisman Sabre in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area and Exercise Koolendong in the Bradshaw Field Training Area. BLT 2/4 returned to Okinawa in late September and redeployed to Camp Pendleton in November 2013.
In January 2014, Marines and Sailors of 2/4's Fox, Weapons, and Headquarters and Service Companies traveled to Singapore to conduct bilateral training with Singapore Guardsmen. During the exercise they participated in live-fire training, conditioning hikes, and exchanged tactics.
In June 2014, Marines with 2/4 and 2/7 conducted fast-rope and rappel training during a two and a half week Helicopter Rope Suspension Technique course aboard Camp Pendleton.  In July 2014, 2/4 participated in a Battalion Field Exercise at the Infantry Immersion Trainer (IIT) aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. During the exercise, Marines conducted patrols through urban terrain provided by the IIT. 
2/4 Medal of Honor recipients
- Lance Corporal Joe C. Paul
- Captain Howard V. Lee
- Sergeant Paul Hellstrom Foster
- Lance Corporal Jedh Colby Barker
- Captain James E. Livingston
- Captain Jay R. Vargas
- Hank Bauer, served in G Company during World War II
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. 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines has been presented with the following awards:
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- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
- Condit, Kenneth W.; Turnbladh, Edwin T. (1960). Hold High the Torch - A History of the 4th Marines. Washington D.C.: Historical Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps.