In Hawaii, ‘America’s Battalion’ Folds its Colors and Fades Away

During an obscure ceremony in Hawaii, “America’s Battalion” folded its colors, sheathed its battle streamers, and faded back into history.

On Friday 13 January, the Corps inactivated the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. It is part of a series of moves across the Indo-Pacific region, designed to thin infantry-heavy combat teams. Coastal RegimentsWith fewer grunts but more anti-aircraft missiles and A ship-killing battery.

That cold logic of strategy made Friday’s moment no less bittersweet. while the Marine Band played Old Lang CineSix Marines struck the battalion colors and draped the banners in black cloth.

Then a quartet of Marines marched cased flags from the parade deck, with no soldiers behind them, for their battalion was no more.

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“Before I look to the future, I want to look to the past, and honor the service and sacrifice of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines,” Col. Timothy S. Brady Jr, commander of the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, told the Dewey Square audience midway through the nearly hourlong ceremony. “A unit founded by heroes. A unit that answers every call. A unit that accepted the formula, Fortuna Fortes Juvat – Fortune favors the brave.”


At Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the island of Oahu, the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines cased their colors on January 13, 2023 and were officially inactivated by the Corps. US Marine Corps Image.

Brady commanded 3/3 from 2015 to 2017, but his address turned to the bloody Pacific campaign during World War II, when the battalion was formed to storm the beaches of Bougainville and Guam.

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During Vietnam, 3/3 fought at Danang and Khe Samh.

America’s battalion held in Iraq Fallujah And so far. The battalion’s Marines fought throughout Afghanistan Helmand Province.

In a written message to Marines and sailors gathered in Dewey Square, their boss – Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman JrThe commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force — reminded him that famous battalions and squadrons had furled and draped their colors before, only to return to duty later, and the same was true for 3/3.


PFC Aramis c. Sandoval, a Marine with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stands guard at a vehicle checkpoint near Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, May 30, 2010. US Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Mark Felloga.

The battalion was disbanded in 1945, but was reactivated in 1951. It was shut down again in 1974, but the Pentagon revived it just a year later.

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And if war comes again, the battalion’s colors will be lit for a new generation of Marines.

“This deactivation is difficult and cannot help but come with a sense of loss among all who served with the battalion,” wrote Bierman, who fought with the unit in Iraq as commander of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. “For many veterans, and many currently serving, the entire service was in 3/3, and so the tight-knit battalion completely defined the experience of being a Marine. Even as each of you wipe away a tear and steel your heart, take great comfort in the fact that proud memories and strong relationships will endure.”

Read ahead: US, Japanese leaders make major changes to Marines on Okinawa


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