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2nd Marine Division

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2nd Marine Division
2nd Marine Division insignia
Founded1 February 1941 (82 years, 5 months)
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Marine Corps
TypeGround combat element
SizeMarine Division (approximately 20,000)
Part ofII Marine Expeditionary Force
Garrison/HQMarine Corps Base Camp Lejeune
Nickname(s)The Silent Second
Motto(s)Follow Me
Commanding GeneralMajGen David L. Odom

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

The 2nd Marine Division earned renown in World War II, distinguishing itself at Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa.


Pre-World War II[edit]

The lineal forebear of the 2nd Marine Division is the 2nd Marine Brigade, which was activated on 1 July 1936 at San Diego, California. Subsequently, the brigade was deployed during August–September 1937 to Shanghai, China. The 2nd Marine Brigade relocated during February–April 1938 to San Diego, California.[1]

World War II[edit]

Major General Clayton B. Vogel, its first commander, activated the 2nd Marine Division at a parade and review at the Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California, during a sunny Saturday afternoon of 1 February 1941. The division consisted of the 2nd, 6th, and 8th Marines infantry regiments; the 10th Marines, an artillery regiment; engineer, medical, service, and tank battalions; and transport, signal, chemical, and antiaircraft machine gun companies.[2] 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.[3]

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

Elements of the division were part of the occupation of Nagasaki, arriving twenty-five days after the nuclear strike.[4]

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, 20 to 24 November 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."[citation needed]

During the war two Seabee battalions were posted to the 2nd. The 18th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was assigned to the 18th Marines as the third battalion of the regiment. They received a Presidential Unit Citation for doing Tarawa with the 2nd Marine Division but also did Saipan and Tinian as well. The 18th Marines were inactivated and the Seabees stayed on Tinian to work on the airfield. They were replaced by the 71st NCB for the 2nd's assault on Okinawa.[citation needed]

1950s through the 1980s[edit]

The Division did not 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 238 Marines and Sailors during the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, plus 3 U.S. Army personnel attached to the unit. Towards the end of the 1980s, Division Marines participated in Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama.[citation needed]

The Gulf War and 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. The 2nd Marine Division played a major role repelling the attempted Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia which is known as the Battle of Khafji. The 2nd Marine Division faced heavy resistance during the Battle of Kuwait International Airport. Marine Reserve unit Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine division was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division.[5] Bravo Company went on to destroy 59 tanks, 32 APCs, 26 non-armored vehicles, and an artillery gun.[6] Bravo Company destroyed a total of 119 enemy vehicles and took over 800 POWs.[5] The crew of the tank "Stepchild" has the longest confirmed live kill (an Iraqi BMP) by a tank at 3,750 meters (2.33 mi).[5] On the second day of the U.S. advance a platoon from the Marine 8th Battalion destroyed 13 Iraqi tanks in a battle near a defensive position known as the Ice Tray.[7] Marine and Navy air power then inflicted heavy casualties on retreating Iraqi forces leading north out of Kuwait City.[6] The 1st Tank Battalion claimed 50 Iraqi T-55 and T-62 tanks and 25 APCs. The 3rd Battalion claimed 57 T-55s and T-62s (plus 5 T-72s), 7 APCs, and 10 trucks. The 8th Battalion destroyed more than three dozen tanks and a number of other vehicles.[8] On the third and final day of combat the 2nd Marine Division would liberate the city of Al Jahra then would go on to occupy the high ground on the Mutla Ridge cutting off the Iraqi escape route from Kuwait to Basra. Following the war, elements of the Division participated in Operation Provide Comfort.[citation needed]

Global War on Terror[edit]

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]

Subordinate units[edit]

2nd Marine Division organization March 2024 (click to enlarge)

As of March 2024, the 2nd Marine Division is composed of:


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.
Two Marines from the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment in Fallujah, Iraq, during July 2005
U.S. Marines with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division operate M1A1 Abrams tanks during a field exercise on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina
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.[9] Previously a battle blaze similar to the 1st Marine Division's insignia but with the "2" in a form of a snake was worn by veterans of the Guadalcanal campaign.[10]

Although the Marine Corps officially disallowed shoulder patches in 1947, the insignia still appears on buildings, signs, documents, and non-uniform clothing.[11] The insignia of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune retains the spearhead shape and general color scheme of the 2nd Marine Division.[12]

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:[13]

Streamer Award Year(s) Additional Info
Presidential Unit Citation Streamer 1943 Tarawa
Navy Unit Commendation Streamer with one Bronze Star 1990–91, 2007–08 Southwest Asia, Iraq
Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer with one Bronze star

China Service Streamer
North China
American Defense Service Streamer with one Bronze Star 1941 World War II
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer with one Silver and two Bronze Stars

World War II Victory Streamer 1941–1945 Pacific War
Navy Occupation Service Streamer with "ASIA" & "EUROPE"

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
Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer with three Bronze Stars

Southwest Asia Service Streamer with three Bronze Stars

A multicolored streamer with (from outer to inner) green, red, black (the three colors of the Afghan flag), white, red, and white again horizontal stripes with a blue horizontal stripe in the center Afghanistan Campaign Streamer with two bronze stars

Iraq Campaign Streamer with four bronze stars

Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer

Global War on Terrorism Service Streamer 2001–present

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2nd Marine Division: Lineage http://www.2ndmardiv.marines.mil/About/Lineage/ Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  2. ^ #Johnston (1948), p.7.
  3. ^ #Johnston (1948), p.13-14.
  4. ^ "2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines – Honors & Lineage". www.2ndmarines.marines.mil.
  5. ^ a b c "History of Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion in Desert Storm 1991". Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  6. ^ a b Semper Fi: The Definitive Illustrated History of the U.S. Marines, Chenoweth, p.408
  7. ^ M60 vs T-62 Cold War Combatants 1956–92, Nordeen & Isby, p. 72
  8. ^ M60 vs T-62 Cold War Combatants 1956–92, Nordeen & Isby, p.73
  9. ^ Heritage Years: Second Marine Division, 1940–1999. Turner Publishing Company. June 1999. p. 21. ISBN 1-56311-501-8.
  10. ^ p. 32 Thompson, James G Complete Guide to United States Marine Corps Medals, Badges, and Insignia: World War II to Present Medals of America Press, 2003
  11. ^ Russell, Lee (1984). The US Marine Corps since 1945. Osprey Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 0-85045-574-X.
  12. ^ "Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune". Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  13. ^ "Honors and Lineage". www.marines.mil. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 20 December 2020.


  • Col H. Avery Chenoweth (2005) Semper Fi: The Definitive Illustrated History of the U.S. Marines
  • M60 vs T-62 Cold War Combatants 1956–92 by Lon Nordeen & David Isby
Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
  • Johnston, Richard (1948). Follow Me: The Story of the Second Marine Division in World War II. New York: Random House. ASIN B000WLAD86.

External links[edit]