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 A Summary History of the 2nd Marine Division – Follow Me

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"Follow Me"

(Updated 8-17-10)

The 2nd Marine Division is an infantry division of the United States Marine Corps. The 2nd MarDiv serves the USMC as the ground maneuver element of the II Marine Expeditionary Force. The Marines of the second division have served their country with distinction during World War II, the Persian Gulf War, and now in the Global War on Terror. The 2nd Marine Division is stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The unit's shoulder patch was designed and authorized in late 1943 for wear by 2nd Marine Division units serving in the Pacific Theater. The spearhead-shaped patch is scarlet and gold, in the center is a hand holding a torch with the number two. Around the torch are the stars of the Southern Cross constellation as a reference to Guadalcanal. Although the Marine Corps officially disallowed shoulder patches in 1947, the insignia still appears on buildings, signs, documents, and non-uniform clothing.Click to preview or purchase "The Boldest Plan is the Best" from Amazon.com

With the threat of WWII on the horizon, the 2nd Marine Division was created through a re-designation of the 2nd Marine Brigade on February 1, 1941 at Camp Elliott, California. Because of the growing threat of a German invasion of Iceland, the 6th Marine Regiment and other 2nd MarDiv units were sent to garrison Reykjavik, the capitol of Iceland. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, the 8th Marine Regiment was sent to defend American Samoa.

The 2nd Marine Division participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands from January 4 to February 8, 1943. However, even before the Division headquarters was deployed, the 2nd and 8th Marine Regiments reinforced the 1st Marine Division in the early weeks of the battle. The 2nd Marine Regiment participated in the Guadalcanal and Tulagi landings Aug 7-9, 1942. The 8th Marine Regiment went ashore on November 2, 1942. Both the 2nd and 8th Marine Regiments were awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for their performance while attached to the 1st Marine Division.

In the Pacific Theater of WWII, the 2nd Marine Division also saw action on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands from November 20 to December 4, 1943, where the Division was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. The 2nd MarDiv fought in the battle for Saipan in the Mariana Islands Campaign from June 15 to July 24, 1944. The Division participated in the capture of Tinian Island from July 24 to August 10, 1944. There last combat action of WWII was to act as floating reserve for the Battle of Okinawa from April 1-10, 1945. A detachment from Division Headquarters and the 8th Marine Regiment went ashore to reinforce June 1-30, 1945. At the end of the war, elements of the 2nd Marine Division were part of the occupation of Nagasaki, Japan. They arrived just twenty-five days after the dropping of the nuclear bomb.

The 2nd Marine Division did not deploy to the Korean or Vietnam wars. The decades following WWII were highlighted by multiple peacekeeping and security deployments for elements of the Division. Noteworthy deployments include the U.S. intervention into the Lebanon crisis of 1958, the reinforcement of Guantanamo Bay during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and Operation Power Pack where elements of the Division landed in the Dominican Republic in 1965. The 2nd Marine Division deployed as part of the Multi-National Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon from August 1982 until February 1984. The 2nd MarDiv suffered the loss of 241 Marines and Sailors during the 1983 bombing of the Beirut barracks. In December 1989, the 6th Marine Regiment and other elements of the 2nd Marine Division participated in Operation Just Cause, the deployment to liberate the country of Panama from Dictator Manuel Noriega.

The 1990s began with elements of the Division participating in Operation Sharp Edge, the evacuation of American and allied civilians out of war torn Liberia. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi Dictator Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait. The 2nd Marine Division deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield, which began on August 7, 1990 to defend the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Operation Desert Storm, the battle for the liberation of Kuwait began on January 17, 1991 with an extensive air campaign. The ground campaign kicked off on February 23, 1991, when the 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions, along with Kuwaiti forces crossed into Kuwait and headed toward Kuwait City. They overran the well designed, but poorly defended, Iraqi trenches in the first few hours. The Marines crossed Iraqi barbed wire obstacles and mines, and then engaged Iraqi tanks, which surrendered shortly thereafter. Most Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait opted to surrender rather than fight. Following the war, elements of the Division participated in Operation Provide Comfort to defend Kurds fleeing their homes in northern Iraq in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War.

In early 2003, elements of the 2nd Marine Division deployed to Kuwait to reinforce the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in preparation for the invasion of Iraq. These units formed a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) designated Task Force Tarawa. Task Force Tarawa crossed into Iraq on March 21, 2003, the first day of the ground war, with the initial task of seizing Jalibah airfield in southern Iraq. Following this, the Task Force pushed north and took part in a major battle in the town of Nasiriyah. After the war, these Marines were moved north to Al Kut, where they provided security and stabilization operations in central Iraq. Task Force Tarawa returned to the United States via Kuwait on May 14, 2003.

The 2nd Marine Division deployed to Camp Fallujah, Iraq as the II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) headquarters in January 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III (OIF III, later re-designated OIF 04-06) to relieve the 1st Marine Division in the Al Anbar province. The division again deployed for another yearlong tour at Camp Fallujah from 2007 to 2008.

As of 2010, units of the 2nd Marine Division continue to serve their country in the Global War on Terror in deployments to Afghanistan. Members of this storied marine division persistently live up to their motto, "Follow Me!"

 

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