4th Marine Division (United States)

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4th Marine Division
4th Marine Division insignia
ActiveAugust 16, 1943 – November 28, 1945
February 1966 – present
Allegiance United States of America
Branch United States Marine Corps
TypeGround combat element
SizeMarine Division (Approximately 17,000)
Part ofMarine Forces Reserve
Garrison/HQNew Orleans, Louisiana
Nickname(s)"Fighting Fourth"
EngagementsWorld War II

Persian Gulf War

Global War on Terrorism

Brigadier General Michael S. Martin[1]

The 4th Marine Division is a reserve division in the United States Marine Corps. It was raised in 1943 for service during World War II, and subsequently fought in the Pacific against the Japanese. Deactivated after the war, the division was re-formed in 1966 and elements of the division deployed during the Gulf War in 1990–1991. It is currently the ground combat element of the Marine Forces Reserve and is headquartered in New Orleans, Louisiana and has units throughout the United States.[2]


The division is tasked with providing trained combat and combat support personnel and units to augment and reinforce the active component in time of war, national emergency, and at other times as national security requires; and have the capability to reconstitute the division, if required.

Subordinate units[edit]

The division's 24th Marine Regiment was deactivated in 2013.

Structure 4th Marine Division


World War II[edit]

Across the litter on Iwo Jima's black sands, Marines of the 4th Division shell Japanese positions, 1945
LSM 206 with 23rd Marines Shore Party. LSM 206 was loaded with A Co 133 Naval Construction Battalion's Shore Party equipment & 3 D8s at approx. 0935

This division was formed by the organization and redesignation of several other units. The 23rd Marine Regiment began as infantry detached from the 3rd Marine Division in February 1943, the same month that an artillery battalion of the 12th Marines became the genesis of the 14th Marines and engineer elements of the 19th Marines formed the nucleus of the 20th Marines. In March, the 24th Marine Regiment was organized, and then in May it was split in two to supply the men for the 25th Marines.[4]

This war-time shuffling provided the major building blocks for a new division. The units were originally separated, however, with the 24th Marines and a variety of reinforcing units (engineer, artillery, medical, motor transport, special weapons, tanks, etc.) at Camp Pendleton in California. The rest of the units were at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. This East Coast echelon moved to Pendleton by train and transit of the Panama Canal in July and August. When all the units were finally together, the 4th Marine Division was formally activated on August 16, 1943,[5] with Major General Harry Schmidt in command.

After intensive training, it shipped out on 13 January 1944, and in 13 months made four major amphibious assaults, in the battles of Kwajalein (Roi-Namur), Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima under command of V Amphibious Corps, under its command and control were the first Joint Assault Signal Company,[6][7] suffering more than 17,000 casualties. It was awarded two Presidential Unit Citations and a Navy Unit Commendation, and then inactivated 28 November 1945.[4]

The division patch worn on Saipan had a gold "4" on a scarlet background, the official colors of the U.S. Marine Corps. The emblem was designed by SSgt John Fabion, a member of the division's Public Affairs Office before the Marshalls Campaign. His commanding officer was astonished to find that when the division attacked Roi Islet in Kwajelein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (January 1944), the layout of the runways on the airstrip there were an exact replica of the "4". The 4th had two Seabee Battalions posted to it during the war. The 121st Naval Construction Battalion was posted to the 20th Marines and redesignated as the 3rd Battalion of the Regiment. They landed with the 4th on Roi-Namur, Saipan and Tinian and received a Presidential Unit Citation for it. The 20th was deactivated and the 121st stayed on Tinian to work on the airfields when the 4th moved on. They were replaced by the 133rd NCB for the assault on Iwo Jima. The 133rd was posted to the 23rd Marines as their shore party until relieved on D plus 18.[4]

Division commanders[edit]

Assistant division commanders[edit]

Chiefs of Staff[edit]


Post-1966 4th Marine Division Patch

In February 1966, it was reactivated as the only division in the Marine Forces Reserve.[8]

Background: Early in 1962, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara indicated to the Congress that he wanted the Marine Corps to have a fourth division/wing team, to be formed of Ready Reserves. In April of that year, the Commandant of the Marine Corps announced a major reorganization of the Marine Corps Reserve to be effective 1 July 1962. In this reorganization, 53 reserve units were redesignated as 4th Marine Division units. While 1 July 1962 is regarded as the date of reactivation of the division, it was not until 14 February 1966 that the 4th Marine Division headquarters nucleus was actually activated at Camp Pendleton. The division was given the primary mission "to establish an effective staff nucleus capable of directing, controlling and integrating, as directed, the mobilization planning and logistics functions preceding the activation of the 4th Marine Division and of ensuring an orderly and efficient mobilization of the division." Major General Robert E. Cushman, Jr., commanding general of Camp Pendleton was given the additional responsibility as the commanding general of the division.[9]

On 23 June 1966, the World War II division colors were presented to General Cushman, significantly at a 4th Marine Division Association meeting at Camp Pendleton, California. Reminiscent of a passed torch, a new generation of Marines was eager to prove itself worthy of the trust attendant in the acceptance of the proud colors.[9]

Even before the headquarters nucleus had been formed, still other changes were on the drawing board. In late 1965, the Commandant approved a plan to further reorganize the Organized Marine Corps Reserve so that the division/wing team would become a "mirror image" of its regular counterparts. The first step toward achieving this goal was to reorganize the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing so that it would reflect an active wing. Other steps that were required to accomplish the Commandant's directive were: establish division combat and combat support units together with certain force troops units; form the 4th Force Service Regiment (completed in June 1968); and form FMF augmentation units. To complete the reorganization, active duty colonels were assigned as commanders of the reserve regiments, reserve brigadier generals were assigned as assistant division commanders, and an active duty general officer was assigned as a full-time division commander. All of these changes were made by 15 July 1970 when Brigadier General Leo J. Dulacki arrived to take command of the division. One month later, General Dulacki was promoted to major general. The "nucleus" designation was dropped with the command unit now being designated as Headquarters, 4th Marine Division.[9]

Marines of the 4th Division prepare to move a simulated casualty to a helicopter at Camp Pendleton

With the division's new structure came a new mission. The division was now responsible for training all Organized Marine Corps Reserve ground units. The Commandant's intent of 1965 had been accomplished and the Marine Corps had one more division/wing team. The new change antedated by three years the "Total Force Concept," the Department of Defense policy of integrating reserve component units into the wartime planning and programming process.[9]

The 4th Marine Division was now a fully structured force in its own right, able to muster and move out to a combat assignment within a relatively short period of time. In still another change, effective 17 May 1976, the 4th Division Support Group was formed, providing the division with selective combat service support which includes combat engineers, tactical motor transport, and an assault shore party. In a move external to the division, certain battalions were added to the 4th Force Service Regiment, now redesignated as the 4th Force Service Support Group.[9]

The ultimate goal of any Marine division is readiness, but the 4th Marine Division has one peculiar problem not shared with the regular divisions. An unusual span of control situation is brought about by the geographic dispersion of some 200 division units throughout the United States. The training accomplishments of the 4th Marine Division have been both imaginative in content and impressive in operation.[9]

The 4th Marine Division has one purpose and that was clearly expressed by Major General Edward J. Miller in his 1976 Armed Forces Day message, "The 4th Marine Division stands ready to carry out any mission assigned as the Marine Corps' Force in Readiness." Created for battle in 1943, the division's ultimate purpose remains the same.[9]

Gulf War[edit]

Between November 1990 and January 1991, Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division was mobilized in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Elements of the battalion were "in country" and combat ready within 32 days of activation. During the fighting, Bravo Company engaged Iraqi tanks in combat on February 25, reporting 34 enemy tanks destroyed or disabled in less than 90 seconds.[10] This battle was named the "Reveille Engagement" and went on to be the biggest and fastest tank battle in United States Marine Corps history. They were the only Marine unit equipped with M1A1 Abrams tanks.[11] Bravo Company went on to destroy 59 tanks, 32 APCs, 26 non armored vehicles, and an artillery gun.[12] Bravo Company destroyed a total of 119 enemy vehicles and took over 800 POWs.[11] The crew of the tank "Stepchild" has the longest confirmed live kill (Iraqi BMP) by a tank at 3,750 meters (2.33 miles).[11]

Additionally, on 18 November 1990, Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division was mobilized in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Alpha Company was assigned to Regimental Landing Team 5, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division. This was part of the amphibious force in the Persian Gulf. Alpha Company was loaded onto the USS Tarawa (LHA-1) and the USS Mount Vernon (LSD-39) with the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade off of Camp Pendleton, CA on 1 December 1990. Elements of Alpha Company participated in the Al Waffra operation, clearing a large Iraqi mine field with tanks equipped with a mine plow. The 5th MEB was part of Operation Desert Calm and later participated in Operation Sea Angel in a humanitarian mission of relief of the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone. Alpha Company returned to Camp Pendleton, CA and was deactivated on 31 July 1991.

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. Awards and decorations of the United States Armed Forces have different categories: i.e. Service, Campaign, Unit, and Valor. Unit Citations are distinct from personal awards. The 4th Marine Division has been presented with the following awards:

Bronze star
Bronze star
Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze stars
Bronze star
Navy Unit Commendation with one bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with two bronze stars
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal
Global war terrorism service ribbon.gif
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Medal of Honor recipients[edit]

World War II[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "4th Marine Division Change of Command ceremony". Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. 8 September 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  2. ^ "4th Marine Division, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve". Marines: The Official Website of the Marine Corps Reserve. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  3. ^ "HQBN BATTALION 4TH MARDIV". Retrieved 2011-08-03.
  4. ^ a b c "4th Marine Division in WWII" (PDF).
  5. ^ 4th Marine Division Historical Detachment; et al. "History of the 4th Marine Division: 1943–2000" (PDF). Marines.mil. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  6. ^ "Marines in WWII-Saipan,the Beginning of the End".
  7. ^ "Fourth Marine Division operations report, Iwo Jima, 19 February to 16 March, 1945: World War II Operational Documents". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  8. ^ "U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve – Media Info". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g "The 4th Marine Division in World War II" (PDF). History and Museums Division, Headquarters, US Marine Corps. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  11. ^ a b c "History of Bravo Company, 4th Tank Battalion in Desert Storm 1991". Archived from the original on January 9, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Chenoweth, H. Avery (2005). Semper Fi: The Definitive Illustrated History of the U.S. Marines. p. 408.

External links[edit]