Military Wiki
1st Battalion, 3rd Marines
USMC - 1st Battalion 3rd Marines.png
1st Battalion, 3rd Marines insignia
Active May 1, 1942 - present
Country United States
Branch United States Marine Corps
Type Light infantry
Role Locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and maneuver
Part of 3rd Marine Regiment
3rd Marine Division
Garrison/HQ Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Nickname(s) "Lava Dogs"
Motto(s) "Fortuna Fortes Juvat"
"Fortune Favors the Brave"
Engagements World War II
* Battle of Bougainville
* Battle of Guam
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Enduring Freedom
*Operation Moshtarak
Operation Iraqi Freedom
* Operation Phantom Fury

1st Battalion, 3rd Marines (1/3) is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Nicknamed the "Lava Dogs", the battalion consists of approximately 800 Marines and Sailors and falls under the command of the 3rd Marine Regiment of the 3rd Marine Division.

Subordinate units[]

  • Headquarters and Service Company
  • Alpha Company
  • Bravo Company
  • Charlie Company
  • Weapons Company


World War II[]

On May 1, 1942, the 1st Training Battalion was activated at Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina. A month and a half later, on June 17, the unit was redesignated as the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The battalion received its baptismal into combat in November 1943 against the Japanese in the Battle of Bougainville. The Japanese were a formidable foe with the fighting complicated by deep swamps and dense jungles. The battalion fought with distinction for nearly two months before being sent to Guadalcanal to prepare for the next leg of the Pacific Island Hopping Campaign.

U.S. Marines from 1/3 fighting on Bougainville in 1943.

The Battle of Guam was the next combat assignment for 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. The amphibious assault began on July 21, 1944. Once again, the battalion encountered a tenacious enemy and the fighting on the proved to be both bloody and costly. Organized resistance officially ended on August 10 and the Guam was declared “secured”. However, numerous Japanese remained at large in the jungle refusing to surrender. Subsequently, the battalion participated in “mopping-up” operation through the latter part of October.

In early 1945, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, as part of Regimental Combat Team 3, was to be the floating reserve for the amphibious assault of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The battalion, however, was never called upon to land or to take part in the battle for Iwo Jima. Instead it returned to Guam in March where it continued to remove the small pockets of Japanese resistance that still remained on the island.

The battalion remained on Guam through the surrender of the Japanese in September 1945. Although the end of the war signified the end of hostilities, there was still much work to be done. The Islands in the Pacific held by the Japanese had to be demilitarized and the Japanese forces repatriated to mainland Japan, this job fell to 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, soon to be known as the “Chichi Jima” Marines. Chichi Jima was an Island fortress, often referred to as the Gibraltar of the Pacific, located in the Ogasawara Island chain 615 miles south of Tokyo. After 14 years of war in China and the Pacific, Japan had arrived at a mortifying surrender. At exactly 1015 on December 13, 1945, the Japanese flag flying over Chici Jima was lowered from its staff. The Japanese Color Guard folded the flag and presented it to the Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. At 1025, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps sounded Colors and everyone present, American and Japanese alike, rendered a salute as Old Glory was raised to her lofty summit. With the Japanese threat removed from Chichi Jima, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines returned to Guam where it was deactivated on February 9, 1946.

Vietnam War[]

A U.S. Marine from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines, moves a supposed NLF activist to the rear during a search and clear operation held by the battalion 15 miles (24 km) west of Da Nang Air Base.

U.S. Marines from 1/3 near Khe Sahn in 1966.

1st Battalion, 3rd Marines became the second American infantry unit to enter South Vietnam. The battalion began its movement, via air, to Da Nang in early March 1965 and completed its movement by mid-March. Less than six months after its arrival, 1/3 was withdrawn to Okinawa. The battalion was sent back to Vietnam on November 18, 1965. The 1968 Tet Offensive ushered in a new wave of intense combat activity for the Marines and in May, 1/3 found itself heavily engaged in fighting North Vietnamese units at the village of Dai Do near the Cua Viet River.

In 1969. the United States began to slowly withdraw combat units from Southeast Asia. One of the first Marine units to be notified to commence stand down operations was 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. The unit departed South Vietnam for the United States on October 5, 1969. Towards the end of the month the battalion arrived in California and was located at again at Camp Pendleton. Shortly thereafter, it was reduced to zero strength, effective November 18, 1969. It then was reestablished at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii as part of the 1st Marine Brigade on November 27, 1969.

In 1964-65 the 1st Battalion 3rd Marines were FIRST American infantry to enter South Vietnam and came in BY SEA. Movement to Da Nang was ON GROUND.


In December 1989, 1/3 responded to the 1989 Philippine coup attempt as part of an amphibious task force and sent Marines ashore to reinforce the American Embassy.

The Gulf War and the 1990s[]

In August 1990, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield and took up defensive positions along the coastal highway leading to Kuwait. In February 1991, 1/3 assaulted into Kuwait as part of the ground war of Operation Desert Storm to liberate the country from Iraqi occupation. In April 1991, the battalion redeployed to Kaneohe Bay.

The Global War on Terror[]

On September 11, 2001, 1/3 was on the Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa, Japan. Alpha company was one of the first infantry units to deploy to the Middle East after September 11, 2001. The company was attached to 5th Fleet out of NSA Bahrain and subsequently deployed in direct support of Combined Task Force 53 (CTF 53) for the initial phase of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In October 2002, an Army Special Forces Sergeant First Class (SFC) was killed in the Southern Philippines by an IED. Shortly after, Charlie company with some Weapons company attachments deployed to Zamboanga City, Philippines as the Marine Security Element for JTF-555/JSOTF-P in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines.

April 2003, 1/3 departed Kaneohe for another UDP in Okinawa, Japan. Alpha company, with Weapons company reinforcements left for the Philippines as the MSE under the guise of JTF-510. Alpha company carried out many joint missions with Navy SEAL/s, SWCC, and the CIA in terrorist surveillance activities, and security missions in Zamboanga Bay. Also, despite the constant threat of attack from the Abu Sayf, and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), Alpha carried out security for many Engineering Civic Action Programs (ENCAPs) by building schools and repairing hospitals deep in the jungle. Alpha Company Navy Hospital Corpsman also carried out two major MEDCAPs seeing a total of 17,000 patients.

In June 2004, 1/3 (also known at the time as BLT 1/3, and including Battery C 1st Battalion 12th Marines - also from MCBH) set off to tour what was known as a standard deployment around the South Pacific region with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). In early October 2004, the unit arrived in Kuwait and soon after entered Iraq. The unit fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah as part of Regimental Combat Team 1 to clear the city of insurgents and reclaim the city. BLT 1/3 has produced one of very few nominations for the Medal of Honor thus far in the Global War on Terror, Sergeant Rafael Peralta. After insurgents threw a grenade into a room with several Marines, Sergeant Peralta used his body as a shield to protect his 'brothers-in-arms' from the blast.

On January 26, 2005, a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed in the Al-Anbar province taking with it the lives of 26 Kaneohe Bay Marines, along with one Navy Corpsman and four Marine aircrew from a mainland unit. The majority of the 27 Marines lost in the crash were from Charlie Company of Battalion Landing Team 1/3.[1] Battalion Landing Team 1/3 lost a total of 45 Marines during the course of their first combat tour in Iraq.[2][3]

In January 2006, the battalion deployed to eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.[4] During this five-month deployment they operated throughout the Korengal Valley and were known as "Task Force Lava." On June 1, 2006, 1/3 handed over their area of operations to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment and would soon be returning to Hawaii.[5]

In March 2007, 1st Battalion 3rd Marines deployed to Haditha, Iraq. This unit managed to come home in October with zero Marines killed in action. This is the first Marine Corps battalion to accomplish this since the start of OIF.[6]

The Battalion deployed to Karma, Iraq in August 2008.

The Battalion again deployed to Afghanistan in November 2009 through June 2010, taking up positions in and around FOB Geronimo, within the district of Nawa-I-Barakzayi, Helmand Province. In February 2010, the battalion participated in Operation Moshtarak, the seizure of the Taliban stronghold of Marjah.[7] The activities of Bravo and Charlie Companies were covered extensively in a series of articles by C. J. Chivers in the New York Times, and in the "At War Blog" posted on the New York Times website. The Battalion deployed once more to Afghanistan in April 2011, taking up positions south of FOB Delhi, in Garmsir District, Helmand Province.


  • US Navy Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon.png  Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 bronze stars
    • Guam - 1944
    • Vietnam - 1965 - 1967, 1967
    • Afghanistan - 2010
  • Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg  Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 bronze star & w/ 1 silver star
    • Bougainville - 1943
    • Vietnam - 1965, 1968–1969
    • Southwest Asia - 1990 - 1991
    • III MEF - 2003 - 2005
    • OEF Afghanistan - 2006
    • OIF Iraq I MEF - 2007-2008
    • OIF Iraq II MEF - 2008

See also[]


  1. American Forces Press Service (February 3, 2005). "Day of Remembrance Honors Fallen". DefenseLink. U.S. Department of Defense. .
  2. Leone, Diana (January 14, 2005). "'Freedom isn't free': 10 soldiers are remembered for paying the ultimate price". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 
  3. Kakesako, Gregg K (April 27, 2005). "Kaneohe Marines Return From Iraq". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. 
  4. Lindsay, Sgt. Joe (March 28, 2006). "Marines win villagers' trust". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on 2006-04-06. Retrieved 2006-03-30. 
  5. Huvane, Captain Dan (June 1, 2006). "'Lava Dogs' Hand Off Afghan Ops to 'Chosin Few'". DefendAmerica. U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved 2006-06-02. 
  6. Nelson, Cpl. Rick (January 1, 2008). "Lava Dogs beat the odds". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 2010-05-06. 
  7. Tuthill,Sgt. Brian A. (February 10, 2010). "Marines fight insurgents, secure key intersection on road to Marjeh". Marine Corps News. United States Marine Corps.,securekeyintersectiononroadtoMarjeh.aspx. Retrieved 2010-03-01. 

External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).