Famous Military Units

Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

When activated at Marine Corps Base San Diego in Feb 1941 to succeed its forebear, the 2nd Marine Brigade (est. 1936), our 2nd Marine Division, "The Silent Second," consisted of the 2nd, 6th, and 8th Marine infantry regiments; 10th Marines, an artillery regiment; engineer, medical, service, and tank battalions; and transport, signal, chemical, and antiaircraft machine gun companies. The Journey Through the History of the 2nd Marine Division During WWII, the 2nd Marine Division (HQ) participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations, including combat and other action at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Saipan, Peleliu, Tinian, Cape Gloucester, Okinawa and Nagasaki (less than a month after the atomic weapon detonation there). Also, in WWII, two Seabee battalions were posted to the 2nd MARDIV; the 18th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was assigned to the 18th Marines as the third Battalion of the regiment. The Division did not take part in a major action again...

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Famous Navy Unit: USRC Harriet Lane

Famous Navy Unit: USRC Harriet Lane

The USRC Harriet Lane (1857) was a vessel serving in the United States Revenue Cutter Service from 1861–1881; builder: William Webb, New York, length: 180 ft., navigation draft: 10 ft., beam: 30 ft., propulsion: sail & steam: brigantine-rigged & side wheel paddles; inclined, direct-acting steam engine. Its descendants since then have included USCGC Harriet Lane (WSC-141), a 125-foot cutter in US Coast Guard service 1926-46, and USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903), a medium-endurance cutter in USCG service commissioned in 1984. It was named after the niece, official hostess, and designated First Lady of President (1857-1861) James Buchanan under the auspices of the United States Treasury Department. The 619-ton copper-plated steamer could make speeds of up to eleven knots. Her battery consisted of three thirty-two-pounder and four twenty-four-pounder howitzers.  The Inception of the Revenue Cutter Service Immediately following our Revolutionary War, the United States struggled...

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Famous Navy Unit: VFA-31 Tomcatters

Famous Navy Unit: VFA-31 Tomcatters

VFA-31 (Strike Fighter Squadron 31) is the second oldest Navy attack fighter squadron. Known as the Tomcatters with the call sign "Felix," it is currently based at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, VA. It flies the F/A-18E Super Hornet. "V" stands for fixed wing, "F" stands for fighter, and "A" stands for attack. Chief Of Naval Operations Instruction (OPNAVINST) governs the squadron designation system. The Navy's oldest currently active squadron is VFA-14, and it has been redesignated 15 times since it was established in 1919. The Enduring Tale of Felix and the Tomcatters Over the history of U. S. Naval Aviation, many designations have been used multiple times, resulting in numerous unrelated squadrons bearing the same designation at different times. The use of letter abbreviations for squadrons was promulgated in the "Naval Aeronautic Organization for Fiscal Year 1923," which is the first known record associating the abbreviated Aircraft Class Designations (V-heavier than...

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Famous Air Force Unit: 1st Reconnaissance Squadron

Famous Air Force Unit: 1st Reconnaissance Squadron

The squadron emblem roundel pictured above is still current and has been in active use since 1933. As of this year, there are twenty-six active reconnaissance squadrons in the United States Air Force. The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, by that specific unit designation, was not technically constituted until 1991-94 but was preceded by the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron in 1966 and two training units utilizing similar nomenclature in between. Yet, this organization traces its full roots back to the US Army Air Service, 1st Provisional Aero Squadron in 1913. In all but six of its fifteen inclusive designations, its duty has been observation, as it was once termed, reconnaissance by the current definition. According to the Air Force Historical Research Agency, that role is "Reconnaissance" complements surveillance in obtaining, by visual observation or other detection methods, specific information about the activities and resources of an enemy or potential enemy or in securing data...

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Famous Coast Guard Unit: National Motor Lifeboat School

Famous Coast Guard Unit: National Motor Lifeboat School

The basic National Motor Lifeboat School (NMLBS) headquartered at Cape Disappointment on the Columbia River in Washington, sometimes in collaboration with the Advanced Helicopter Rescue School, is a grueling four-week program to earn the coveted Surfman badge in the US Coast Guard. Training is provided in four possible ascending stages: 47' MLB Introduction47' MLB Heavy Weather Coxswain47' MLB Surfman47' MLB Operations Supervisor "Metal clinked on metal as three small groups of US Coast Guard students and their instructors clipped canvas waist belts to both sides of their 47-foot rescue boats, vital lifelines for staying onboard when the big waves come.And on these waters, they always come." SURFMAN'S CREED I will to the best of my ability, pursue eachmission with the commitment, compassion,and courage inherent in the title"SURFMAN."I will endeavor to reinforce the worldwidereputation of our forefathers in theLifeboat Community.I will maintain a guardian's eye on my crewat all times,...

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Famous Marine Corps Unit: 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines

Famous Marine Corps Unit: 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines

Approximately 800 Marines and Sailors of the "Two Five" comprised of H&S Co, Echo Co, Fox Co, Golf Co, and Weapons Co. are based at MCB Camp Pendleton, California under command of the 1st Marine Division. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines is a battalion-level infantry unit composed of Marines and support personnel. Infantry battalions are the basic tactical units that the regiment uses to accomplish its mission of locating, closing with and destroying the enemy by fire and close combat. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines: Rich History and Service Marines: Together We Served lists 3,104 registered members who had been assigned to this unit as of August 2023, from Col. Abbink to Sgt Zwarka. A superior and reliable summary of the 2/5 from its own lineage history and Marines TWS reads: "The 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines was initially formed in July 1914 and immediately sailed to the Caribbean due to political turmoil in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The battalion returned to the United States...

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Famous Navy Unit: USS Frank E. Evans

Famous Navy Unit: USS Frank E. Evans

"Most Holy Spirit, who didst broodUpon the chaos, wild and rude,And bid its angry tumult cease,And give, for fierce confusion, peace;Oh, hear us when we cry to TheeFor those in peril on the sea…."     William Whiting (1825-1878) The circumstances of a warship's lineage and history, including its end of days, sometimes assume both heroic and dramatically calamitous features. Between 1943 and 1946, fifty-eight US Navy Destroyers of the Sumner class were built in eleven shipyards. Although somewhat slower owing to greater displacement, Sumner vessels were distinguished from their predecessor classes primarily by having a slightly wider beam, adoption of twin rudders, and an enormous firepower that could be directed forward. A great many served in the Pacific, and the USS Frank E. Evans was among them. Eventually, their numbers simply became obsolete; some were lost in battle or damaged beyond repair. Today, only one of the Sumners survives; at Patriot's Point Naval and...

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Famous Army Unit: 1st Motion Picture Unit

Famous Army Unit: 1st Motion Picture Unit

Constituted from the 18th AAF Base Unit, the designated 1st Motion Picture Unit was an independent Army Air Force film production outfit, creating between three and four hundred films in three years. They were assigned to produce propaganda, instructional, animation, historical, combat, and morale-boosting materials for military and civilian consumption in support of the WWII effort: 1st Motion Picture Unit: Formation and Operations "… in December 1941, the Air Corps was a part of the Army, and motion picture production was the responsibility of the Army Signal Corps. USAAF Commanding General "Hap" Arnold believed that forming an independent film entity would help the Air Service gain its independence. At a meeting in March 1942, General Arnold commissioned Warner Bros. head Jack L. Warner, producer Hal Wallis and scriptwriter Owen Crump to create the unit. Warner was made Lieutenant Colonel and Crump a Captain, but Wallis, who was then in production with Casablanca, did not accept...

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Famous Army Unit: Department of the Army Special Photographic Office (DASPO)

Famous Army Unit: Department of the Army Special Photographic Office (DASPO)

By 1962 the world was becoming a very scary place punctuated by continuing confrontations between global communist and democratic powers, alongside growing civil, racial, and political unrest.  In Southeast Asia, the Korean War brought an indecisive outcome, and the tide of combat in Vietnam now favored communist forces despite US advisors in place since 1956.  Further, in 1961 alone there was an armed conflict between communist and democratic armies along the Chinese-Burma border, UN peace-keeping forces fighting at Kabalo and Katanga (Operation Rampunch) in the Congo, and the US-backed Bay of Pigs, a failed attempt to overthrow Castro’s regime in Cuba.  In Europe, the Berlin Wall was constructed following decades-long Soviet blockades leading to the activation of more than 150,000 US guardsmen and reservists together with Operation Stair Step, the largest jet deployment in history.  Then in October 1962, provoked by ongoing US efforts against Cuba (Operation...

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Famous Marine Corps Unit: 1st Samoan Battalion

Famous Marine Corps Unit: 1st Samoan Battalion

World War II as a global event unfolded over more than a decade, impacting countries in different ways and at very different times.  Undoubtedly Americans identify the war’s start consistently with the Pearl Harbor attack and declaration of war by Japan on December 7, 1941, but the beginnings of the conflict date much earlier to 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria.  In recognition of their brutal ambitions and the escalating political activities in Europe the US became deeply immersed in war planning and preparations beginning early in the 1930s.  But, with an overwhelming isolationist stance gripping the US and a resulting lack of Federal funding those actions identified by the military as critical to national defense had to be deferred.  Only with tensions heightening around Japan and the outbreak of war in Europe during 1939 was President Roosevelt able to declare a limited national emergency, and in doing so, appropriate meager funding.  The 1st...

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Famous Army Unit: 761st Tank Battalion

Famous Army Unit: 761st Tank Battalion

Entry of the United States into World War II quickly revealed how woefully ill-prepared the armed forces were to contend with a major conflict.  Apart from the peacetime draft instituted in 1940 and lend-lease support to Great Britain few actions had been taken to address escalating global tensions.  Now racing to enlist, train, arm and deploy resources necessary across multiple theatres of war the Army and other branches of service were forced to again face long-held racial discrimination and related practices.  Responding to arguments raised by General McNair, Commander of Army Ground Forces, the US began to experiment with segregated combat units in 1941 and as one outcome, the 761st Tank Battalion was activated April 1, 1942. Rated Superior during training by Lt. General Lear, Commander Second Army, the unit fought with distinction across the European Theatre of Operations (ETO) as the first Black tank battalion to enter combat, eventually adopting the nickname...

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Famous Navy Unit: USS Liberty

Famous Navy Unit: USS Liberty

Three years before President Truman courageously recognized Israel's statehood, the first international leader to do so, the keel of a vessel named SS Simmons Victory was laid down in Portland, Oregon, designated as a Fleet Issue Ship assigned the duty of carrying munitions and general cargo at the end of WWII across the PTO. From the onset of troubles in Korea, the ship made nine Far East voyages in support. The History of USS Liberty By 1964 it had been converted to a Technical Research Ship and reclassified AGTR-5 of the US Navy, christened USS Liberty in honor of the ten states with settlements of that name. Its first log entry included this rhyme by Mustang Lt. Lester Morserf, Jr: "… With a spirit of Trust and "Get the Job Done."We each did tremble as her colors were raised,With pride for the symbol, we all have praised –And vow to add fame through duties done well,To its historic name – the Liberty Bell." USS Liberty served with the Atlantic Fleet on many seas and to many...

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