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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 in late 1914. In June 1917, the battalion sailed for France with its present regiment. During World War I, the battalion participated in the Battle of Belleau Wood, Soisson, and the Meuse-Argonne Campaign. For these actions, the battalion was twice awarded the French Croix de Guerre with Palm and once with Gold Star. The Fouraggere, representing these awards, is worn today by members of the battalion.

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines: From World Wars to Modern Missions

“The story of the Corps’ first shoulder unit patch is a strange one to say the least, and was borne out of the chaos and mass movement of troops to the Western front in World War I. The iconic American Indian head unit insignia eventually sported by Marines during the conflict had a tactical advantage, helping them and the unit they served under, the 2nd Army division, move supplies to the correct units and destinations… The unit shoulder patches (SSI) worn by the Army and Marines were not approved until relatively late in the war, around November 1918 – well after the Corps’ hallowed battle at Belleau Wood. Vehicles and trains carried the emblems as early as March 1918.”

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines participated in the post-war occupation of Germany and returned to the United States in August 1919. In 1920, at Quantico, Virginia, the battalion was ordered to guard U.S. mail trains. During this period, it also participated in reenactments of Civil War battles. The battalion was sent to Nicaragua in 1927 to fight bandits and supervised the 1928 national elections there.

At Quantico from 1934 on, the battalion participated in numerous exercises contributing to the development of the Marine Corps Amphibious Doctrine. In 1941 2nd Battalion 5th Marines joined the newly formed 1st Marine Division at New River, North Carolina. The 1st Marine Division departed the East Coast in 1942 and has never returned. During World War II, that battalion fought at Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa. After the war, the battalion served on occupation duty in North China until 1947.

In July 1950, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines sailed from Camp Pendleton, California, to Pusan, Korea. In August, the battalion fought at the Pusan Perimeter. The battalion participated in the landing at Inchon, the liberation of Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, and the defense of the East Central and Western Fronts. From July 1953 to February 1955, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines assisted in the defense of the Korean de-militarized zone after which it returned to Camp Pendleton.

In 1959, the battalion deployed to Camp Schwab, Okinawa, and then in 1960, relocated to Camp Pendleton. In April 1966, the battalion deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. During the next five years the battalion participated in combat operations in Hue city, Khe Sahn, Phu Bai, Dong Ha and Phu Loc. The battalion returned to Camp Pendleton in 1971, and in 1975 participated in Operation New Arrival, the relocation of Southeast Asian Refugees.

During the next fifteen years, the battalion deployed regularly as part of the Marine Corps Unit Deployment Program. In December 1990, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines sailed for the Persian Gulf and participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines landed in Saudi Arabia and participated in the liberation of Kuwait. During the return transit to the United States, the battalion was diverted to Bangladesh in order to provide humanitarian relief as part of Operation Sea Angel.


In 1993, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines deployed as the Battalion Landing Team for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable) and participated in operations in Rwanda and Somalia. In 1995 the Battalion began regular deployments to Okinawa for service as the Battalion Landing Team for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and participated in several operations in East Timor.

In February 2003, the Battalion deployed to Kuwait as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. In March, the Battalion attacked into Iraq, freed the Iraqi people and conducted peacekeeping operations in Muthanna Province until its redeployment in August. The Battalion earned its 14th Presidential Unit Citation for the Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign.

In August of 2004, the Battalion once again deployed to Iraq to participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom II in Ramadi, Iraq. 

2nd Battalion, 5th Marines is the most highly decorated battalion in the United States Marine Corps. Its motto comes from its actions at Belleau Wood during WWI. The fleeing French advised the newly arrived Marines to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. The Battalion response: ‘Retreat, Hell! We just got here! ‘”

SSgt. Reckless (1948-68) is an honored member of the 2/5. Lt. Eric Pederson purchased Reckless for $250 from a young Korean boy who, reportedly, was searching for money to buy his sister an artificial leg. Reckless was trained by Technical Sergeant Joe Latham to become familiarized with camp life and quickly became adored amongst her fellow Marines. She endured horrendous battle conditions, regular missions, and rough terrain while transporting essential ammunition and supplies for Marines during numerous battles; heroically. Reckless foaled three colts while at Pendleton after 1957, the first one being named Fearless. After her death, Reckless was initially buried behind the Camp Pendleton stables with full military honors. She was later exhumed and reinterred at the stable’s front gate with a black granite marker and nearly life-size bronze equestrian monument. She received the following military recognitions:

•    Dickin Medal
•    Purple Heart (2)
•    Navy Presidential Unit Citation (2)
•    Navy Unit Commendation
•    Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal
•    National Defense Service Medal
•    Korean Service Medal (4)
•    United Nations Korea Medal
•    Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery

Unit awards: 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines

•    Presidential Unit Citation Streamer With Two Silver And Three Bronze Stars
(Solomon Islands, 7 August-9 December 1942)
(Peleliu, Ngesebus, 15-29 September 1944)
(Okinawa, 1-21 June 1945)
(Korea, 7 August-7 September 1950)
(Korea, 15 September-11 October 1950)
(Korea, 27 November-11 December 1950)
(Korea, 21-26 April, 16 May-30 June, And 11-25 September 1951)
(Vietnam, (3d Mardiv), 5-12 April 1966)
(Vietnam, 27 May 1966 – 24 April 1967 And 6 June-15 September 1967)
(Vietnam, 25 April-5 June 1967)
(Vietnam, 16 September 1967 – 3 February 1968, 3 March – 22 July 1968 And 24-31 October 1968)
(Vietnam, 4 February – 2 March 1968)
(Vietnam, 20 November-6 December 1968)
(Iraq, 21 March-24 April 2003)

•    Joint Meritorious Unit Award Streamer
(Bangladesh, 10 May-13 June 1991)

•    Navy Unit Commendation Streamer With Four Bronze Stars
(Korea, 11 August 1952 – 5 May 1953 And 7-27 July 1953)
(Vietnam, 7 December 1968 – 8 March 1969)
(Southwest Asia, 14 August 1990 – 16 April 1991)
(11 September 2001 – 31 January 2002)
(Iraq, September 2004 – March 2005)

•    Meritorious Unit Commendation Streamer With Three Bronze Stars
(Vietnam, 9-11 May 1969)
(Vietnam, 23 July-23 October 1968)
(Somalia, 2 March-3 June 1994)
(1 January-31 May 2000)

•    Marine Corps Expeditionary Streamer
(Distant Runner, April 1994)

•    World War I Victory Streamer With One Silver Star 
(Aisne Operation, 1-5 June 1918)
(Aisne-Marne Operation, 18-20 July 1918)
(St Mihiel Operation, 12-16 September 1918)
(Meuse-Argonne Operation, 29 September-10 October, 21-22 October And 25 October-11 November 1918)
(Defense Sector Operation, Toulon-Troyon Sector, 18 March-13 May 1918 Chateau-Thierry Sector, 6 June-16 July 1918, Marbache Sector, 6-16 July 1918 And Limey Sector, 10-11 September 1918)

•    Army Of Occupation Of Germany Streamer
(13 December 1918 – 19 July 1919)

•    Second Nicaraguan Campaign Streamer
(10 January-21 July 1927, 1 April 1928 – 5 January 1929, And 14 February 1929 – 12 April 1930)

•    American Defense Service Streamer With One Bronze Star
(Cuba, 16 October 1940 – 3 April 1941)

•    Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Streamer With One Silver And One Bronze Star
(Guadalcanal, Tulagi Landings 7-9 August 1942)
(Capture And Defense Of Guadalcanal, 10 August-9 December 1942)
(Eastern New Guinea Operation, 8 October-25 December 1943)
(Bismarck Archipelago Operation, 26 December 1943 – 1 March 1944 And 5 March-25 April 1944)
(Western Caroline Operation, 15 September – 14 October 1944)
(Okinawa Gunto Operation, 1 April-30 June 1945)

•    World War Ii Victory Streamer
(7 December 1941 – 31 December 1946)

•    Navy Occupation Service Streamer With “Asia”
(Okinawa, 2-26 Septebmer 1945)

•    China Service Streamer
(30 September 1945 – 25 May 1947)

•    National Defense Service Streamer With Three Bronze Stars
(27 June 1950 – 27 July 1954)
(1 January 1961 – 15 August 1974)
(2 August 1990 – 30 November 1995)
(11 September 2001 – Tbd)

•    Korean Service Streamer With Two Silver Stars
(North Korean Aggression, 2 August-2 November 1950)
(Communist China Aggression, 3 November 1950 – 24 January 1951) 
(Inchon Landing, 13-17 September 1950)
(First Un Counteroffensive, 25 January-21 April 1951)
(Communist China Spring Offensive, 22 April-8 July 1951)
(UN Summer-Fall Offensive, 9 July-27 November 1951)
(Second Korean Winter, 28 November 1951 – 30 April 1952)
(Korean Defense, Summer-Fall 1952, 1 May-30 November 1952)
(Third Korean Winter, 1 December 1952 – 30 April 1953)
(Korean, Summer-Fall 1953, 1 May-27 July 1953)

•    Armed Forces Expeditionary Streamer (Somalia, March 1994)

•    Vietnam Service Streamer With Two Silver And Two Bronze Stars
(Vietnam Counteroffensive Campaign, 13 April-30 June 1966)
(Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase Ii, 1 July 1966 – 31 May 1967)
(Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase Iii, 1 June 1967 – 29 January 1968)
(Tet Counteroffensive, 30 January-1 April 1968)
(Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase Iv, 2 April-30 June 1968)
(Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase V, 1 July-1 November 1968)
(Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase Vi, 2 November 1968 – 22 February 1969)
(Tet 69/Counteroffensive, 23 February-8 June 1969)
(Vietnam, Summer-Fall 1969, 9 June-31 October 1969)
(Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970, 1 November 1969 – 30 April 1970)
(Sanctuary Counteroffensive, 1 May-30 June 1970)
(Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase Vii, 1 July 1970 – 22 March 1971)

•    Southwest Asia Service Streamer With Three Bronze Stars
(August 1990 – 16 January 1991)
(17 January 1991 – 11 April 1991)
(April 1991)

•    Afghanistan Campaign Streamer With One Bronze Star
(Transition I, February-September 2012)

•    Iraq Campaign Streamer With Two Bronze Stars
(September 2004 – March 2005)
(March-October 2007)

•    Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Streamer
(21 March-24 April 2003)

•    Global War On Terrorism Service Streamer
(11 September 2001 – 20 March 2003)

•    French Croix De Guerre With Two Palms And One Gilt Star
(Belleau Wood, 2-13 June 1918)
(Soisssons, 18-19 July 1918)
(Champagne, 1-10 October 1918)

•    Korean Presidential Unit Citation Streamer
(2 August-6 September 1950)
(15-27 September 1950)
(26 October 1950 – 27 July 1953)

•    Vietnam Cross Of Gallantry Streamer With Palm
(13 April 1966 – 20 September 1969)

•    Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Actions Streamer
(21 September 1969 – 20 November 1970)

Read About Other Famous Military Units

If you enjoyed learning about 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, we invite you to read about other profiles in courage on our blog. You will also find military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog.  If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: 1st Marine Division, Animals in War & Peace Medal of Bravery, Battle of Belleau Wood, California, Dickin Medal, French Croix de Guerre, Korean Service Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, MCB Camp Pendleton, Meuse-Argonne Campaign, National Defense Service Medal, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom campaign, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Presidential Unit Citation, Purple Heart, United Nations Korea Medal, World War I


  1. Michael Chance

    Proud to have been a member of 2/5. Battalion Aid Station Medical Chief 1991-1992

  2. Jerr

    Proud to have been with E2/5 in AnHoa 1969/1970 field radio operator Semper Fi.

    • James prouty

      Perhaps you knew my father – I share his name?

  3. Lonny Holdeman

    Proud to have been with H2/5 in AnHoa and Phu Bai from Sept 1967 to Oct 1968. Was in Hue City during Tet offensive of 1968

  4. James Prouty

    Looking for any Blogs referencing 2nd Battalion 5th Marines in Vietnam. My father has since passed but would love to see if anyone out there knew my dad.

  5. James prouty

    Perhaps you knew my father – I share his name?

  6. Jerry Cox

    My name is Jerry Cox and iam very proud to have served with Echo 2/5 in An Hoa as a field Radio operator .SEMPER FI to all who served.


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