Marine Infantry Regiment with Ties to Banana Wars Deactivates Amid Force Reorganization
Hundreds of Marine grunts have been assigned to new units after their celebrated regiment was deactivated as the Corps continues a forcewide reorganization.
The North Carolina-based 8th Marine Regiment deactivated last week. The regiment's history dates to 1917, with its most recent activation lasting more than 70 years.
Over the last seven decades, 8th Marines operated in Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Cuba, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places. The regiment was also involved in the Banana Wars in the early 1900s and major campaigns during World War II.
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The deactivation is part of a 10-year reorganization plan as the Marine Corps prepares to take on future threats. The service is cutting its number of infantry regimental headquarters from eight to seven, and is going from two dozen active grunt battalions down to 21.
Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division, said the deactivation of 8th Marines signifies a transition for the Marine Corps.
"Losing a regiment, we lose some flexibility," Donovan said, according to a Marine Corps news release on the deactivation ceremony. "But the reality is we also spread some of that talent and that capability to our other regiments."
About 200 Marines and sailors were affected by the headquarters deactivation, said 2nd Lt. Paul Ortiz, a 2nd Marine Division spokesman.
"The future for each of these Marines and sailors strongly depends on their own individual career tracks," he said, adding that most of the personnel have been reassigned to other units in North Carolina or elsewhere in the Marine Corps.
Others, Ortiz said, have reached their end-of-active-service dates and are leaving the Marine Corps.
Two of the infantry battalions that fell under 8th Marines are moving to new 2nd Marine Division regiments. Members of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, currently serving as the battalion landing team for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, will now fall under 6th Marine Regiment, according to the Marine Corps. Members of 2/8 have been reassigned to 2nd Marines.
The last remaining battalion, 3/8, will be deactivated following the unit's deployment to Okinawa, Japan.
There are about 900 Marines and sailors with that battalion. Ortiz said it would be inappropriate to go into specifics about 3/8's future deactivation since there are "operational security considerations when talking about future operations that relate to our force's structure."
Sgt. Maj. Keith Hoge, 8th Marines' top enlisted leader, said during last week's deactivation ceremony that he hoped members of the regiment, past and present, were proud of their accomplishments. Marines moving into new units "can take with them the 8th Marine Regiment fighting spirit and go on and do good things in the Marine Corps," he said.
Several other Marine Corps units have been deactivated as part of Force Design 2030. Combat Logistics Regiment 25, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and CLR-15, out of Camp Pendleton, California, were both deactivated in July. CLR-35 in Japan deactivated in May, and the California-based Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion shut down in June.
Several tank battalions have also shut down as the Marine Corps gets rid of the vehicles.
This is at least the fourth time 8th Marine Regiment has been deactivated, according to its lineage.
-- Gina Harkins can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.
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Corps Deactivates 8th Marine Regiment (Again) as Part of Force Realignment
On Thursday, the Camp Lejeune-based 8th Marine Regiment became the latest Marine Corps unit to case its colors and deactivate.
The 2nd Marine Division unit joined a still-growing list of Marine units that have been deactivated as part of Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger’s vision to reshape the Corps into a leaner, more modern maritime force focused on future threats, especially China.
“This will allow us to modernize and prepare for the next fight against a peer competitor,” Col. John Rochford, commanding officer, 8th Marine Regiment, said.
Berger’s Force Design 2030 calls for the Corps’ ground combat force to be slimmed from 24 to 21 active infantry battalions and seven regimental headquarters units. It totally eliminates Marine tank units and cuts three tilt-rotor squadrons, three heavy helicopter squadrons, two light attack helicopter squadrons, and three military police battalions. It also cuts tube artillery in favor of rockets, among other modernization efforts. Altogether, the proposed cuts amount to approximately 12,000 fewer Marines by 2030.
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“The force design effort does not imply that [the capabilities and units] are not of value,” Berger wrote in his FD 2030 mandate. “Rather, this effort confronts the reality that in a future threat-informed fight, other capabilities will be more useful to the maritime and joint mission.”
The 8th Marines Regimental headquarters saw service in myriad conflicts and peacekeeping operations, including the “Banana Wars” of the early 20th century, World War II, the Cuban missile crisis, Lebanon, Operation Desert Shield, and the Global War on Terror.
Since it was established in 1917, the unit has been deactivated three times: in 1919, 1925, and 1949. It last reactivated in 1950.
“It’s just a natural transition that we go through as we contract or expand the Marine Corps in certain locations and places, either by skillset or by geographical location, that fits with force design,” Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, commanding general, 2nd MARDIV, said. “Losing a regiment, we lose some flexibility, but the reality is we also spread some of that talent and that capability to our other regiments.”
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Marines and sailors from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, now belong to the 6th Marine Regiment and currently serve as the battalion landing team for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
On Oct. 23, 1983, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, suffered the worst single-day loss for the Marine Corps since the bloody battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. In the infamous terror attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into the Marine compound, killing 220 Marines and 21 other American service members.
Marines and sailors who had been assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, now fall under 2nd Marine Regiment, and the regiment’s 3rd Battalion will deactivate following its return from a Unit Deployment Program rotation to Okinawa, Japan. Personnel assigned to that battalion either will move to other units, will be assigned new military occupational specialties, or may opt to transition out of the Marine Corps.
“I hope that we’ve made them proud, those of the past and those who have now moved out of the [regiment] to other battalions and units,” said Sgt. Maj. Keith D. Hoge, 8th Marine Regiment sergeant major. “They can take with them the 8th Marine Regiment’s fighting spirit and go on and do good things in the Marine Corps.”
Ethan E. Rocke
Born in Los Angeles and raised in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, Ethan is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning photographer and filmmaker. He served as an infantryman with the 101st Airborne Division, deploying once to Kosovo for peacekeeping operations. After leaving the Army, he joined the US Marine Corps as a “storyteller of Marines,” serving in Okinawa and the Asia-Pacific region with III Marine Expeditionary Force and at the Marine Corps Motion Picture and Television Liaison Office in Los Angeles, where he served as a consultant on dozens of television shows and documentaries and several feature films. His work has been published in Maxim Magazine, American Legion Magazine and many others. He is co-author of “The Last Punisher: A SEAL Team THREE Sniper’s True Account of the Battle of Ramadi.”
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Storied Marine infantry regiment deactivated as Corps carries on with force redesign
The Marine Corps deactivated one of its storied infantry regiments Thursday as the Corps moves forward with force design changes.
The 8th Marine Regiment originally was founded on Oct. 9, 1917, in Quantico, Virginia, as part of the nation’s buildup to World War I.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger released his force design plan in early 2020, which included a total force reduction of 12,000 Marines by 2030, the axing of all tank battalions and the “divestment” of three infantry battalions and one regimental headquarters.
The reductions are meant to clear up more money for new investments like long-range missiles and light armored reconnaissance, which will better prepare the Marine Corps for the future battlefield.
A smaller, faster and more mobile Marine Corps will fight in a distributed fashion in the littorals of the future battlefield, acting as a skirmish line for the joint force, in Berger’s vision.
Though the cuts mean fewer Marine infantry units, the Marine Corps intends to ensure every unit is fully manned, Marine spokesman Maj. Joshua Benson told Marine Corps Times in November.
Deactivation is nothing new for 8th Marines. The unit has been deactivated a total of four times in its history.
The first was only two years after the unit was created for World War I.
Though the Marines were never sent to France, the Marines in the regiment were used to defend oil fields and navy yards, until the first deactivation in 1919, according to the unit’s history page.
The unit was then reactivated in 1920 and sent to fight in Haiti as part of the Banana Wars, the unit history said.
Deactivated a second time in 1925, the unit was re-formed in 1940 in San Diego. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the unit became the first Marine regiment to be sent to the Pacific, fighting in the Samoan Islands before taking part in Guadalcanal.
Deactivated for a short time in 1949 the unit was once again brought back in 1950. Since its activation the unit has played a part in Marine Corps history, most notably when the unit deployed to Beirut in the 1980s.
In October 1983 Marines with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, were based at the Beirut airport when a truck loaded with explosives blew up their barracks, in total killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers.
“Whether its combat, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, or here in (the continental United States), whatever the mission, we’ve always risen to the occasion, and the Marines are better for that, and they can take that with them on to their next unit,” Sgt. Maj. Keith Hoge said in a release from the 2nd Marine Division.
On Thursday the most recent deactivation took place with the headquarters element shutting down shop.
“Today’s deactivation of 8th Marines signifies a transition, the transition of a storied regiment that has performed so well since 1917,” Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, the commander of 2nd Marine Division, said in a statement released by the Marine Corps. “It’s just a natural transition that we go through as we contract or expand the Marine Corps in certain locations and places, either by skillset or by geographical location, that fits with force design.”
Though the headquarters element shut down Thursday, the three battalions in the regiment are still activated.
In November 1/8 was sent to 6th Marines, earning them the right to wear the French Fourrege, Marine Corps Times reported. The battalion is currently deployed as part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Previously, 2/8 had been “task-organized within 2nd Marines and 3/8 is currently deployed to Okinawa, Japan as part of the unit deployment program, a release from the 2nd Marine Division said.
When 3/8 returns to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the unit will be deactivated, a release from the unit said.
“I hope that we’ve made them proud, those of the past and those who have now moved out of the (regiment) to other battalions and units. They can take with them the 8th Marine Regiment fighting spirit and go on and do good things in the Marine Corps,” Hoge said in the release.
Marine Corps says goodbye to its storied 8th Marine Regiment
The Marine Corps is saying goodbye to its storied 8th Marine Regiment, an infantry unit based in North Carolina that took part in the ‘Banana Wars’, World War II, peacekeeping in Lebanon, and recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Whatever the mission, we’ve always risen to the occasion, and the Marines are better for that, and they can take that with them on to their next unit,” said Sgt. Maj. Keith Hoge, the regimental sergeant major. “I hope that we’ve made them proud, those of the past and those who have now moved out … can take with them the 8th Marine Regiment fighting spirit and go on and do good things in the Marine Corps.”
The 2nd Marine Division unit cased its colors at a deactivation ceremony at Camp Lejeune on Jan. 28, the latest unit to be retired as part of commandant Gen. David Berger’s force design effort to build the Marine Corps into an agile, island-hopping force focused on China. Berger wants the Corps’ ground combat force slimmed from 24 to 21 active infantry battalions and seven regimental headquarters units by 2030.
So what happens to the regiment’s three infantry battalions? According to officials, the 1st Battalion has already been task-organized under the 6th Marine Regiment and the 2nd Battalion has been placed under the 2nd Marine Regiment. Meanwhile, the 3rd Battalion will be deactivated once it returns from its deployment to Okinawa, Japan.
The regiment was formally organized in 1917 before America’s involvement in World War I in Quantico, Virginia, and has seen plenty of action in the years since. Its lineage includes fights with bandits in Haiti in 1920, heavy combat in the jungles of the Pacific during World War II, and peacekeeping duties in Lebanon during the 1980s.
The unit suffered a “devastating loss” on Oct. 23, 1983, after a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into a Marine compound in Beirut occupied by the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. The blast killed 241 American service members, including 220 Marines, marking the worst single-day loss for the Marine Corps since the bloody battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. President Ronald Reagan pulled the Marines from Lebanon the following year.
“I think it changed how we all look at the world,” former Marine commandant Gen. Robert Neller said of the attack, which has been linked to Iran. “I think it changed all of us and I think it made us realize that it’s a dangerous place out there and the reason our nation has Marines is so that we can go to bed at night and not have to worry about stuff like that.”
The 8th Marine Regiment also took part in operations to protect Americans during the Liberian civil war and participated in the 1991 Gulf War. And more recently, Marines of the regiment were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The deactivation marks the “transition of a storied regiment that has performed so well since 1917,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division.
“The transition this time is part of our overall look and the Commandant’s force design to create organizations and units prepared for the future fight. It’s just a natural transition that we go through as we contract or expand the Marine Corps in certain locations and places, either by skillset or by geographical location, that fits with force design.”
The 8th Marines are among several units that have recently closed up shop, including law enforcement battalions, tank battalions, and logistics units. The Corps’ plan calls for significant reductions in artillery units, helicopter squadrons, and a total divestment from law enforcement battalions, tank battalions, and bridge companies.
But it may not be goodbye forever. A close reading of the 8th Marine Regiment’s history shows it’s been deactivated several times, only to be reactivated to deal with a new crisis. So hang on to those colors bearing the motto ‘more than duty.’ You never know when they might be needed again.
Deactivated 8th marines
U.S. Marines deactivate 8th Marine Regiment
Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marines' 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division was deactivated on Friday in a ceremony at Camp Lejuene, N.C., ending a century of involvement.
The move is one of several deactivations of Marine units after 2020 budget cuts.
It is also consistent with the Marines' "Force Design 2030," a 15-page guide to the Marines' future, released in 2020, which calls for fewer but more versatile units.
The changes are meant to give the Marine Corps an opportunity to reallocate revenue to incorporate long-range precision fires, as well as refocus its integration with the Navy, in accordance with its historical roots as a naval expeditionary force, according to the branch.
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At Camp Lejuene alone, Combat Logistics Regiment 25 and the 2nd Law Enforcement Battalion were recently deactivated. Its' 2nd Tank Battalion faces a similar fate with the deactivation, beginning in July 2020, of all Marine tank battalions.
Marine Attack Squadrons 311 and 214, composed of fighter planes, held a "sunset ceremony" of deactivation in October 2020.
"It's just a natural transition that we go through as we contract or expand the Marine Corps in certain locations and places, either by skillset or by geographical location, that fits with force design," Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan said at the ceremony.
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"Losing a regiment, we lose some flexibility, but the reality is we also spread some of that talent and that capability to our other regiments," said Donovan, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division.
The 8th Marines Regimental Headquarters participated in World War I and World War II, and saw activation during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and in Operation Desert Shield in the Middle East.
Established in 1917, it has been deactivated three times, and was most recently reactivated in 1950 -- until Friday.
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8th Marine Regiment
The 8th Marine Regiment was an infantry regiment of the United States Marine Corps. When last active, it was based at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and fell under the command of the 2nd Marine Division and the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The regiment was decommissioned on January 28, 2021, as a result of ongoing force design efforts.
The regiment comprises three infantrybattalions and one headquarters company:
The 8th Marine Regiment was formed on 9 October 1917, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, during the buildup for World War I. While training for war, the command was transferred to Fort Crockett, Texas, to guard the nearby Mexican oil fields. The regiment was joined there by the 9th Marines to form the 3d Marine Brigade; the first Advance Base Force of World War I. As such, the Marines were held in reserve to establish and defend naval bases in the Atlantic Ocean or the West Indies, if required. The 8th Marines was inactivated at Philadelphia Navy Yard on 25 April 1919.
A year later, the regiment was reactivated for service in Haiti, where Marines had been fighting the Cacos bandits since 1914. Through systematic patrolling which culminated in a number of brief, sharp clashes, the 8th Marines eliminated Haitian banditry that had lasted more than a hundred years. The 8th Marines was inactivated again in 1925.
World War II
In 1940 the regiment was formed once more, in San Diego, California. It was the first Marine regiment to deploy into the Pacific waters to Samoa. After ten months of jungle training, while defending the Samoan Islands, the regiment sailed to reinforce the engaged 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal. While there, the 8th Marines won its first Presidential Unit Citation. When the 8th arrived on Guadalcanal they were still wearing the Kelly Transitional helmet according to the book, 'Helmet for My Pillow'.
Joining the 2nd Marine Division in New Zealand, the 8th Marines spent several months refitting for the Battle of Tarawa. In 76 hours the Marines seized that island and opened the door to the Japanese Empire. For its actions, the 8th Marine Regiment received its second Presidential Unit Citation.
After refitting in Hawaii, the 8th Marines sailed for the Marianas, to storm the beaches of Saipan and Tinian, capturing key bases for the air war against Japan. Reinforced with artillery, the regiment later joined the 1st and 6th Divisions in the Battle of Okinawa.
Post Vietnam War years
In the 1980s; 28 May 1982 2nd Battalion 8th Marines under the command of LtCol. Robert B. Johnson deployed with the 32nd Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU); under the Command of Colonel James M. Mead to the Mediterranean Sea; where upon the 32nd MAU was ordered to advance to the coast of Lebanon. 15 June 1982 2nd Battalion 8th Marines evacuated the U.S. Ambassador, Staff, and 580 civilian personnel seventy kilometers North of Beirut. 25 August 1982 2nd Battalion 8th Marines along with the French, Italian and Israelis Forces evacuated the Palestinian Liberation Organization(PLO) from Beirut. 2nd Battalion 8th Marines left Beirut briefly after the PLO evacuation, but returned as a Multinational Force with the French, Italians, and British in response to the Massacre of 700 to 800 Palestinian refugees. December 1982 3rd Battalion 8th Marines relieved 2nd Battalion 8th Marines on station. 1st Battalion 8th Marines relieved 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines June 1983, and on 23 October 1st Battalion 8th Marines Barracks along with the French 8th Para Regiment Barracks were bombed. 2nd Battalion 8th Marines were returning to Beirut, and detoured to the Caribbean when they heard of the Bombing of Marine Barracks. 2nd Battalion 8th Marines invaded Grenada 25 October 1983 as the main force of Operation Urgent Fury, the successful liberation of the Island of Grenada and the rescue of American University students. Immediately after departing Grenada, 2d Battalion, 8th Marines continued their deployment to join the Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon. They were withdrawn from Beirut on 26 February 1984, ending their duties as part of the Multinational Peacekeeping Force and resuming their commitment as the Landing Force Sixth Fleet (LF6F) Battalion Landing Team. In total, 220 marines lost their lives in the bombing of the Beirut barracks alongside 18 sailors and 3 soldiers.
From December 1990 to April 1991 the 8th Marines participated in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. 2d Battalion, 8th Marines participated in Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq from April to July 1991.
Global War on Terrorism
8th Marines deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in the February 2005. They operated around the city of Fallujah, Iraq. The Marines secured the city ahead of the December 2005 national elections.
8th Marines redeployed to Iraq in January 2009, taking over responsibility for the western Al-Anbar province from the 5th Marines. During this period, RCT-8 continued and completed the major retrograde of equipment out of Iraq, and also continued civil affairs operations to stabilize the Area of Operation. Due to the drawdown of forces throughout the country, RCT-8's deployment was cut short and they were ordered to redeploy home in September 2009, instead of their original departure date of January 2010. According to CBS News, the regiment had one of the highest casualty rates during its 2009 deployment.
On 7 January 2011, the Department of Defense officially announced that RCT-8 would be deploying in early 2011 to Afghanistan for approximately one year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
8th Marine Regiment was deactivated in January 2021 as part of a restructuring of the Corps.
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