One of the Marine Corps’ most deployed units in history celebrated its triumphant return to the force last week.
Following a nearly 16-month hiatus from the Marine Corps, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, held its reactivation ceremony on Thursday aboard Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, at the Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field — a parade ground named after one of the battalion's own Marines who was killed in Iraq.
Over its 90-year history, the “Thundering Third” — originally stood up in 1925 on Naval Base San Diego — deactivated and reactivated seven other times, and in between participated in some of the nation’s most grueling conflicts. The unit was the most combat-deployed battalion in the service throughout the Global War on Terror.
“Whether one considers the battalion’s experiences in China, the unparalleled challenges endured during World War II, the savage fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, or the iconic downing of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad’s Firdos Square, members of 3/4 always performed beyond expectation,” executive officer Maj. Jonathan Kenney said.
The unit deactivated in May 2014 as the Corps adjusted to Congress’ mandate to draw down to a total force structure of 175,000 in the wake of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Officials reversed course last summer, however, as it became clear that Marines are still in high demand around the world.
Maj. Gen. Daniel O’Donohue, who recently assumed command of 1st Marine Division, noted at the ceremony on Thursday that the unit will step up to meet this demand through distributed operations, expeditionary maneuver and an upcoming deployment “back to the strategic main effort, which is the Pacific.”
Falling under the 7th Marines, the unit is currently slated to deploy in spring 2017 to Australia in support of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.
Lt. Col. Brian Middleton will serve as 3/4's commanding officer.
“Although there’s a lot of work to be done ahead, we are off to a great start,” Middleton said at the ceremony. “We will carry the burden every day to get better, bigger, stronger, faster … to be the most ready, when the nation is least ready.”
The unit's top enlisted leader has yet to be identified, pending this December’s sergeant major board.