1st Marine Division

1st Marine Division (in English : 1st Marine Division ). It is a division of the United States Marine Corps , based at Camp Pendleton , California . It is a unit subordinate to the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF). It is the oldest and largest active duty division in the United States Marine Corps , representing a combat force of more than 22,000 men and women. Today it is one of three active duty divisions in the Marine Corps, providing the ground combat element of the I MEF.

The 1st Marine Division has its origins in the Advance Base Brigade, which was activated on December 23 , 1913 in Philadelphia , Pennsylvania . During the first years of its existence, the brigade had an active participation in a series of conflicts in the Caribbean , being employed in the Banana War in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic , also participating in the landing of Veracruz , Mexico .

After a series of appointments, the 1 of February of 1941 the unit finally received its current name 1st Marine Division while it was located in Guantanamo Bay , Cuba . Thus, the unit became the first division in the history of the United States Marine Corps, initially being composed of the 1st, 5th and 7th Infantry Regiment and the 11th Marine Regiment .


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  • 1 Combative history
    • 1 World War II
    • 2 Korean War
    • 3 Vietnam War
    • 4 Operation Desert Storm
  • 2 Commanders
  • 3 Sources

Combative history

Second World War



Members of the 1st Marine Division in Japan in September 1944 .

The combative history of this Division began in World War II when it was sent to the southwest of the Pacific Sea as part of the US military forces that had been at war with Japan since December 7 , 1941 . The 7 of August of 1942 , the 1st Marine Division reinforced with the support of two naval task forces and other naval escort units, made amphibious landings on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. After a strong six-month military campaign through the Guadalcanal enclave, US forces managed to conquer this area. The Guadalcanal campaign marked the first defeat in its territory of the hitherto invincible Japanese Imperial Army at the end of December 1942, the Division was sent to Australia for reorganization and reinforcement after having suffered almost 3,000 combat casualties.

After nine months in Australia rebuilding the Division, it was assigned to the Sixth Army to fight in the New Guinea – Bismarck Archipelago theater of military operations . The 26 of December of 1943 , the Division was sent to New Britain of the East in order to besiege Rabaul and protect the advance of US forces to New Guinea. After more than four months of hard fighting, the Japanese were driven out of the western half of the island, and the 1st Marine Division was relieved by military units in the care of the area. The Division was then moved to Pavuvu Island.in the Russell Islands to prepare for his next operation, the capture of Peleliu .

The 15 as September as 1944 , the Division reached Peleliu to stage a bloody battle against a Japanese enemy positioned well in coastal and terrestrial fortification covering the whole island. The decisive point of the action was the capture of the island’s airfield by US forces, which made it possible for them to cut off communication and supply to the enemy, starting a slow and brave war of attrition. On November 27, the Japanese forces surrendered and the losses of the 1st Marine Division were close to 7,000 men.

The bloody Battle of Okinawa was the last campaign of the 1st Division in World War II. It was fought for 82 days, from April 1 to mid-June 1945 . The battle has been called Typhoon of Steel or violent steel wind due to the ferocity of the fighting, the intensity of the shots, and the huge number of allied ships and armored vehicles that stormed the island. The 1st Division fought alongside the 6th Marine Division and five infantry units from the XXIV Corps . At the end of the fighting, the Division had suffered 8,600 casualties.

The 14 of August of 1945 the Division is reorganized to participate in the conquest of Japan , which was not carried out because of the unconditional Japanese surrender. Upon reaching US soil, the 1st Marine Division was awarded three presidential medals for its heroic participation in the war. The price paid for the division was high, with approximately 20,000 casualties killed and wounded during World War II.

Three weeks after the Japanese surrender, the Division was dispatched to China to oversee Japanese disarmament and the repatriation of soldiers from the defeated Japanese Empire in the northern part of the country. While in China, elements of the Division had a number of encounters with the People’s Liberation Army . In the spring of 1947 the total withdrawal of the Division from Asian soil was completed when it was transferred to Camp Pendleton , California , United States .

Korean war



1st Marine Division forces in Korea in December 1950 .

Along with the rest of the Marine Corps, the 1st Division was reduced to peacetime after the end of the war against Japan. But in June 1950 war broke out on the Korean Peninsula and the Division was mobilized to support the South in its confrontation with the North . Units of this Division participated in the defense of the Pusán perimeter in July and August. In September the entire Division participates in the occupation of Seoul as the capital of the Republic of Korea .

After an unopposed landing at the end of October in Wonsan (east coast of Korea), the 1st Division was ordered to advance towards the Chosin Reservoir where a bloody battle against 10 enemy divisions took place , in an epic move the 1st Division he completed the retreat through 78 miles between the mountains until he reached the port of Hungnam . The 1st Division suffered in this action and the withdrawal more than 4,000 combat casualties and countless cases of frostbite.

During the next two and a half years the 1st Division was present in many military operations, and in 1951 it participated in United Nations offensive operations against the revolutionary guerrillas of North Korea , later participating in the advance through the central mountains. -East of Korea.

During March 1952 the unit was placed at the disposal of the Eighth Army to operate in western Korea, being present in the successful defense of Outpost Bunker Hill. Between January and February 1953 the 1st Division was reinforced with new soldiers, which served to hold up the offensive of the Northern forces through the United Nations front line, which struck the first outposts of the 1st Division in your right sector.

On July 27 , a truce signed in Panmunjom put an end to three years of fighting in Korea, this allowed the 1st Division to move into defensive positions until its withdrawal two years later.

Vietnam War



Members of the 1st Marine Division fighting in the streets of Hue , Vietnam , on February 19 , 1968 .

During the summer of 1965 , 1st Division forces began their gradual deployment from the Republic of Vietnam , to be transferred their headquarters in March 1966 from Okinawa to Chu Lai , assigning the southern provinces of Quang Tin and Quang Ngai to its military operations. By June 1966, the entirety of the 1st Division is in South Vietnam where it begins to face the revolutionary forces of the Vietnam National Liberation Front (Vietcong). In the summer of 1966 he participated in Operation Hastings and in 1967 It is present in operations Union I and II.

During 1968 they participated in the Tet Offensive , maintaining intense combat with Vietcong forces and the North Vietnamese Army . His actions helped the military forces of the Republic of Vietnam to retake the old imperial city of Hue . That year he also participated in the Allen Brook , Mameluke Thrust and River Meade fighting . The following year he faced the revolutionary forces in Operations Taylor Common and Oklahoma Hills.

From late 1969 to early 1971, the 1st Marine Division was the only navy division operating in the Republic of Vietnam as part of the Vietnamization process, which consisted of handing over responsibility for the defense of the country to the military forces of Vietnam. South Vietnam. During 1970 the 1st Division began to withdraw its regiments from Vietnam to finish in the spring of 1971.

In Vietnam, the 1st Marine Division participated in more than 160 large and medium-scale military operations, and thousands of small-unit actions while deployed in the war zone. The 1st Division Marines’ courage and dedication to duty was awarded three presidential military distinctions for their Vietnam War service.

Operation Desert Storm



Assault forces from the 1st Marine Division advance on Kuwait City on February 26 , 1991 during Operation Desert Storm .

The 2 of August of 1990 Iraqi forces invaded neighboring Kuwait and placed near the border of Saudi Arabia, an ally of United States. On August 7 , US President George Bush ordered US military forces in the Persian Gulf to launch Operation Desert Shield as part of a multinational force created to defend Saudi Arabia from the aggression carried out against that country by the Iraqi government. A major deployment of US military forces, the largest since the Vietnam War, began immediately and featured the 1st Marine Division.

Elements of the 1st Marine Division began to be deployed in mid-August in Saudi Arabia, being created as a ground combat element of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in the first week of September. Division personnel were charged with the military training of allied forces, including units of the Arab coalition. The 16 of January of 1991 , the Shield Operation Desert became Operation Desert Storm.

The first battle of force in Operation Desert Storm began on January 29 , when Iraqi armored units carried out an attack on Saudi Arabia on a 40-mile front, while at the same time, an Iraqi brigade assaulted and occupied the Khafji coastline. . Iraqi armored units were destroyed by units from the 1st Marine Division and Khafji was retaken by Saudi Arabia and Qatar with artillery and air support from the 1st Division.

On the morning of the 24 of February of 1991 the 1st Division was the unit leader allied ground assault in southern Kuwait , in the last action of Operation Desert Storm. The four main task forces of the 1st Division – Papa Bear, Taro, Grizzly and Ripper – engaged the Iraqi defense causing considerable damage. Within 100 hours, the allied coalition forces had been victorious against Saddam Hussein’s military forces . A ceasefire was declared by President Bush on February 28 . At the end of March the withdrawal of more than half of the 1st Division from Saudi Arabia began, with the full withdrawal being completed at the end of April 1991.


Since its creation, the command of the 1st Marine Division has fallen to high-ranking officers of the United States Army , these officers are [1] :

  • Major General Holland M. Smith ( February 1 , 1941 – June 13 , 1941)
  • Major General Philip H. Torrey ( June 14 , 1941 – March 22 , 1942 )
  • Major General Alexander A. Vandegrift ( March 23 , 1942 – July 7 , 1943 )
  • Major General William H. Rupertus ( July 8 , 1943 – November 1 , 1944 )
  • Major General Pedro A. del Valle ( November 2 , 1944 – August 8 , 1945 )
  • Major General Dewitt Peck ( August 9 , 1945 – June 9 , 1946 )
  • Major General Keller E. Rockey ( June 10 , 1946 – September 17 , 1946)
  • Major General Samuel L. Howard ( September 18 , 1946 – June 17 , 1947 )
  • Colonel Alva B. Lasswell ( June 18 , 1947 – July 6 , 1947)
  • Major General Graves B. Erskine ( July 7 , 1947 – July 25 , 1950 )
  • Major General Oliver P Smith (July 26, 1950 – February 23, 1951)
  • Brigadier General Lewis B. Puller (February 24, 1951 – March 4, 1951)
  • Major General Oliver P Smith (March 5, 1951 – April 26, 1951)
  • Major General Gerald C. Thomas (April 27, 1951 – January 10, 1952)
  • Major General JohnT. Seldon (January 11, 1952- August 28, 1952)
  • Major General Edwin A. Pollock (August 29, 1952 – June 15, 1953)
  • Major General Randolph McC. Pate (June 16, 1953 – May 11, 1954)
  • Major General Robert H. Pepper (May 12, 1954 – July 23, 1954)
  • Major General Robert E. Hogaboom (July 24, 1954 – January 18, 1955)
  • Major General Merrifi B. Twimng (January 19, 1955 – August 17, 1956)
  • Major General Robert 0. Bare (August 18, 1956 – June 30, 1957)
  • Major General David M. Shoup (July 1, 1957 – January 2, 1958)
  • Brigadier General Harvey C. Tschirgi (January 3, 1958 – February 4, 1958)
  • Major General Edward W. Snedeker (February 5, 1958 – October 7, 1959)
  • Brigadier General Thomas E Riley (8 October 1959 – 13 November 1959)
  • Major General Henry R. Paige (November 14, 1959 – June 6, 1961)
  • Brigadier General Frederick E. Leek (June 7, 1961 – July 30, 1961)
  • Major General James M. Masters, Sr (July 31, 1961 – June 14, 1962)
  • Major General Herman Nickerson, Jr (June 15, 1962 – April 9, 1963)
  • Major General William T Fairbourn (April 10, 1963 – July 9, 1965)
  • Brigadier General Edward H. Hurst (July 10, 1965 – August 10, 1965)
  • Major General Lewis J. Fields (August 11, 1965 – September 30, 1966)
  • Major General Herman Nickerson, Jr (October 1, 1966 – May 31, 1967)
  • Major General Donn J. Robertson (June 1, 1967 – June 26, 1968)
  • Major General Carl A. Youngdale (June 27, 1968 – December 20, 1968)
  • Major General Ormond R. Simpson (21 December 1968 – 14 December 1969)
  • Major General Edwin B. Wheeler (December 15, 1969 – April 26, 1970)
  • Major General Charles E Widdecke (April 27, 1970 – April 29, 1971)
  • Major General Ross T Dwyer, Jr (April 30, 1971 – August 10, 1972)
  • Brigadier General Adolph G. Schwenk (August 11, 1972 – April 30, 1973)
  • Major General Kenneth J. Houghton (May 1, 1973 – August 12, 1974)
  • Brigadier General William L. McLulloch (August 13, 1974 – June 1, 1975)
  • Major General Charles D. Mize (June 2, 1975 – July 29, 1976)
  • Major General Edward A. Wilcox (July 30, 1976 – July 5, 1977)
  • Brigadier General Marc A. Moore (July 6, 1977 – August 7, 1977)
  • Major General Charles G. Cooper (August 8, 1977 – August 8, 1979)
  • Major General Francis X. Quinn (August 9, 1979 – July 31, 1980)
  • Major General James L. Day (August 1, 1980 – August 12, 1982)
  • Major General Ernest C. Cheatham, Jr (August 13, 1982 – June 13, 1985)
  • Major General Clyde D. Dean (June 14, 1985 – April 23, 1986)
  • Brigadier General Matthew 1. Cooper (24 April 1986 – 13 August 1986)
  • Major General James J. McMonagle (August 14, 1986 – July 19, 1988)
  • Major General John P. Monahan (July 20, 1988 – August 7, 1990)
  • Major General James M. Myatt (August 8, 1990 – July 8, 1992)
  • Major General Charles E. Wilhelm (July 9, 1992 – December 8, 1992)
  • Colonel Jerry C. McAbee (December 9, 1992 – March 23, 1993)
  • Major General Charles E. Wilhelm (March 24, 1993 – June 22, 1994)
  • Major General Frank Libutti (June 23, 1994 – June 6, 1996)
  • Major General John H. Admire (June 7, 1996 – July 24, 1998)
  • Major General Michael W. Hagee (June 25, 1998)
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