Highlights of Marine Corps Reserve History: 1916-2006


29 August 1916 – President Woodrow Wilson signed an Act authorizing a Marine Corps Reserve. Prior to this date, Marine reservists had participated in the naval militias of numerous states that border large bodies of water.

1917-1918 – The Marine Corps Reserve increased from 35 to 6,440 on active duty as a result of World War I.

12 August 1918 – The Secretary of the Navy authorized enrollment of Women in the Marine Corps Reserve.

28 February 1925 – Congress passed an act that superseded the Act of 1916 for the creation, organization, administration, and maintenance of the Marine Corps Reserves. It also provided for the establishment of Aviation units within the Reserves.

25 June 1938 – The Naval Reserve Act of 1938 abolished the act of 1925 and provided that the reserve would consist of the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve, an organized Marine Corps Reserve, and a Volunteer Marine Corps reserve.

1941-1945 – Of the 589,852 Marines to serve during World War II, approximately 70% were Reserves. These numbers include women serving within the Women’s Reserve whose component was added to the Marine Corps 13 February 1943. Forty–four of the 82 Marine Medal of Honor recipients were reservists.

1948 – The first official “Toys for Tots” campaign, initiated by reservist Major William Hendricks, began. It was firmly established as a nationwide Marine Corps Reserve public affairs project by 1953.

August 1950 - July 1953 – During the Korean War more than 130,000 reservists served on active duty. There were 13 Medal of Honor recipients among the Marine Corps Reserves and every third aviation combat mission was flown by either a Navy or Marine reservist.

1952 – Congress passed the Armed Forces Reserve Act of 1952. This act provided for a Ready Reserve, a Standby Reserve, and a Retired Reserve.

1955 – The Armed Forces Reserve Act of 1955 was passed. The act established a six-month training program and made schooling available in 200 key occupational fields.

July 1962 – The Organized Marine Corps Reserve was reorganized to provide a distinct unit mobilization structure embodied in the 4th Marine Division, 4th Marine Aircraft Wing team, and Force Troops units.

1965 - 1973 – The Marine Corps Reserve was not mobilized for active duty during the Vietnam War but individual reservists could and did volunteer for duty with active units.

1977 – The headquarters of the 4th Marine Division was relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana. The move allowed the headquarters to be more centrally located and helped to solidify the partnership between the Division and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing which was already located there.

1990 - 1991 – The Persian Gulf War saw the largest mobilization of the Marine Corps Reserve since the Korean War. Reservists served in all elements of the I Marine Expeditionary Force and comprised 15% of all Marines in theater. Many reserve units distinguished themselves in combat while other reserve units competently replaced deployed active units at home.

6 June 1992 – Marine Reserve Force (MarResFor) was activated and was the largest command in the Marine Corps. Two years later, on 10 November, MarResFor was re-designated as Marine Corps Forces Reserve (MarForRes) in a move meant to keep the Reserve force’s visibility in line with its Fleet Marine Force Command counterparts.

4 June - 13 August 1994 – Marine Reserve Force conducted Exercise Pinnacle Advance, the largest peacetime training exercise in the Marine Corps Reserve's history. The exercise involved 16,000 Marines and took place at sites in Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona. It included humanitarian assistance, peace keeping, combat, and amphibious operations.

11 September 2001 - 2006– Numerous Reserve units were called to active duty due to the world situation. Some reserve units assumed rotations in the Unit Deployment Program to places such as Okinawa to allow for the expanded need for troops in Southwest Asia and Afghanistan, while others joined the Marine Corps active component in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, or took over for deployed units here in the United States.

Reference Branch
USMC History Division

Marine Corps University