Chronologies - 1982


1 January – The strength of the armed forces was 2,093,032, of which 190,039 were Marines.

5 January – An auditorium used for weapons and tactics instructor training at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Yuma was named in honor of the late Colonel John H. Ditto. Colonel Ditto was instrumental in the creation and development of Marine Aviation and Weapons Squadron based at MCAS Yuma. Colonel Ditto was killed 19 January 1981 at the age of 44 when his AV-8A Harrier crashed at MCAS Cherry Point.

9 January – A Marine Security Guard duty vehicle in San Salvador, El Salvador, was fired upon as it was enroute to the Marine House. The vehicle sustained one hit from a 7.62 millimeter weapon; there were no injuries.

13 January – Jiro Horikashi, 78, designer of the Japanese Zero fighter that challenged Marine aviators at the outset of World War II, died of pneumonia in a Tokyo hospital.

13 January – The first Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet aircraft went on the assembly line at the Northrop Corporation in Hawthorne, California. After final assembly and extensive testing, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 (VMFA-314) was the first squadron at MCAS El Toro to receive the F/A-18, followed by VMFA-323 and 531.

15 January – The Basic Skills Education Program (BSEP) opened its new learning center at Camp Geiger, Okinawa. The BSEP, which prepares Marines for the Graduate Equivalency Degree examination, has helped almost 4,500 Marines since its inception in 1977.

20 January – General Robert H. Barrow, the Commandant of the Marine Corps advised that urinalysis test results received from drug testing laboratories could be used in disciplinary proceedings involving Marines accused of drug usage for any drug except cannibis.

29 January – The base theater at Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina, was named in honor of the late Lieutenant Colonel Lee T. Lasseter, who served as a fighter pilot during his career in the Marine Corps.

29 January – River Road, Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was renamed to Julian C. Smith Drive in honor of the late Lieutenant General Julian C. Smith, who commanded the 2d Marine Division on Tarawa during World War II.

31 January – Marines of the Marine Security Guard Detachment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, responded to a fire in one of the American Embassy buildings and were instrumental in extinguishing the blaze. A Marine inside the building was badly burned and was evacuated to the United States as a result.

1 February – The Commandant of the Marine Corps launched a concentrated campaign to eliminate the use of illegal drugs in the Corps following specific guidelines set in ALMAR 246. The language of the order was simple, beginning with: “the distribution, possession or use of illegal drugs is not tolerated in the United States Marine Corps,” and all Marines were subject to random urinalysis testing.

3 February – The flag at the American Embassy in Beijing, China, was lowered to half-mast by Marines of the security guard detachment in memory of Lieutenant General Joseph C. Burger, who died on 1 February. Lieutenant General Burger served with the 4th Marines in Shanghai and later at the embassy in Peiping in 1935.

12 February – A decision was made by the Commandant of the Marine Corps to have east coast Marine amphibious units (MAUs) redesignated. Under the new system, they would be numbered in the 20s with the first digit “2” reflecting the Marine amphibious force (MAF) from which each MAU orignated. MAUs from II MAF would be designated 22, 24, 26, and 28 instead of 32, 34, 36, and 38.

13 February – Marines from III MAF participated in “Team Spirit 82,” conducted in the Republic of Korea (ROK) to exercise deployment, reception, and employment of ROK/US forces responding to possible contingencies in the Korean theater.

20 February – The 20th anniversary of the historic flight of Friendship Seven Mercury Spacecraft, in which Senator John Glenn (Colonel, USMC, Ret.) was the first American to orbit the earth in outer space, was observed. The flight, which took four hours and 56 minutes, consisted of three orbits around the earth.

28 February – The Defense Department rejected all bids by competing companies to manufacture a new 9 millimeter handgun, which was designed to be compatible with NATO sidearms and replace the Colt .45 currently in use by U.S. armed forces. Of the four companies bidding, none was able to meet more than 11 of the 71 specifications laid down by the Defense Department, which plans to purchase 400,000 9mm pistols over a 10-year period.

5 March – The Commandant of the Marine Corps announced that the Marine Corps program designed to reveal drug usage among Marines is now applicable to the Marine Corps Reserve.

5 March – The first of 15 CH-53E “Super Stallion” helicopters was unveiled at MCAS Tustin, California, by Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465. New features of the CH-53E included the ability to refuel in flight (a first for helicopters) and lift capability twice that of earlier models. East coast helicopter squadrons had received their first CH-53Es in 1981.

15 March – The USS New Jersey, a 40-year old veteran battleship of three wars, was refloated at the Naval Shipyard, Long Beach, California. The ship is being returned to service for a fourth tour of duty, and will include a Marine detachment among its complement of officers and men.

17 March – An attempt was made by dissident military forces of Guatemala to take over the government in that country. U.S. Marines were placed on alert inside the American Embassy, but were later ordered to stand down. There were no casualties.

22 March – The space shuttle Columbia (STS-3) embarked on its third trip into space in a mission that lasted 7 days, 3 hours, and 25 minutes. The crew on board included Marine Colonel Jack R. Lousma, 46, who previously was a member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 9, 10, and 13 missions and pilot for Skylab 3.

23 March – “Woodland” camouflage utilities replaced “poplin” utilities in use throughout the Marine Corps. The new utilities improvements include reinforced knee, elbow, and seat patches, unpleated breast pockets, slightly heavier material, smaller trouser pockets, and larger collars. The cost of new utilities remained the same as the old ones.

27 March – A group of 120 politcians and ex-combat troops broke ground on the Mall near the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., for a $6 million memorial to those who served and died in Vietnam. The U.S. Marine Band played “God Bless America” at the groundbreaking.

31 March – A group of unidentified individuals fired a Chinese-made rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) and 20 rounds of small arms ammunition at the American Embassy in Guatemala. The RPG caused a 4-inch hole in a second floor. No injuries were reported. The local police arrived in a timely manner and conducted an investigation.

1-6 April – “Gallant Eagle 82” employed 10,000 Marines and sailors of the 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) at Twentynine Palms, California, in a United States Readiness Command exercise. The purpose of “Gallant Eagle 82” was to provide a simulated combat environment to exercise, train, and evaluate the 7th MAB, along with other multi-service forces of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, in a desert environment. In all, “Gallant Eagle 82” employed 25,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.

2 April – The annual Navy League awards were presented to the following: Colonel Jack B. Hammond, 2d Marine Air Wing (MAW), received the General John A. Lejeune award for inspirational leadership; Major Richard F. Vercauteren, 2d Marine Division, received the General Holland M. Smith award for operational competence; and Gunnery Sergeant J. J. Brown, 1st Marine Division, received the General Gerald C. Thomas award for inspirational leadership.

5 April – Approximately 15 shots were fired by unknown assailants using a small caliber rifle at the American Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. There were no injuries and only minor damage to the outside of the building was incurred.

11 April – The Dome of the Rock shooting by unidentified assailants in Jerusalem caused extensive re-examination of political priorities throughout the Middle East. Marine Security Guards at overseas posts in the Middle East increased security measures for the protection of American interests and property as directed by the Secretary of State.

17 April – The USS Lewis B. Puller (FFG 23) was commissioned at the Long Beach, California, Naval Shipyard and was named in honor of Lieutenant General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the only Marine in history to receive five Navy Crosses. The Puller, a 445-foot guided missile frigate, was under construction since 1979.

17 - 29 April – 29,000 sailors and Marines from the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand participated in Exercise “RIMPAC ‘82” to enhance tactical capabilities of participating units in most major aspects of conventional maritime warfare.

22 April – The battleship USS Iowa (BB 61), leader of the fourmember class of battleships remaining in the U.S. Navy, was moved from its moorings at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in preparation for reactivation and recommissioning in January 1985.

23 April – Rotation of the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) units occurred with Battalion Landing Team, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines (BLT 3/3), Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165 (HMM-165), and MAU Service Support Group 31 (MSSG-31) departing Hawaii for deployment to WestPac. These units replaced BLT 1/3, HMM-265, and MSSG-37.

27 April - 16 May – Exercise “Ocean Venture 82” was conducted in the Carribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the southeastern United States to emphasize command and control of forces in a simulated combat environment. It included 5,500 Marines in the overall force of 45,000 active and reserve military from all the armed services and units of the Royal Netherlands Navy and Marines. The exercise was designed to signal that the U.S. is prepared to defend its Caribbean interests.

28 April – Lejeune Hall, the United States Naval Academy Physical Education Center, was dedicated. The new center was named after Lieutenant General John A. Lejeune, an 1888 graduate of the Naval Academy who became the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Lejeune Hall is a 95,000-square foot, steel, concrete, granite, and glass building. It features swimming and diving pools, six wrestling rings, strength training rooms, a 120-person classroom, and administrative offices. The grounds surrounding Lejeune Hall feature three memorial monuments.

30 April – Marine Helicopter Training Squadron 303 (HMT-303) was activated at Camp Pendleton, California, and was attached to Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing.

21 May – Brigadier General Paul A. Putnam, USMC (Retired), died in Mesa, Arizona. He commanded Marine Fighting Squadron 211, the “Wake Island Avengers,” on Wake Island at the beginning of World War II and was a Japanese prisoner of war for four years.

21 May – Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, the oldest continually active squadron in the Marine Corps, reached 250,000 accident-free flight hours.

21 May – The winner of the 1982 Annual Rifle Squad Combat Competition was 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company E, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, 1st Marine Brigade led by Sergeant Jack Lawrence.

22 May – The 70th anniversary of Marine aviation was observed. On 22 May 1912, Lieutenant Alfred Austell Cunningham became Marine Aviator Number 1 in a solo flight at Annapolis, Maryland, after two hours and 40 minutes of instruction.

24 May – The 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), commanded by Colonel James Mead, began deployment with the Amphibious Task Force, U.S. Sixth Fleet on duty in the eastern Mediterranean. The 32d MAU was composed of Battalion Landing Team, 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 and MAU Service Support Group 32.

28 May – The 1981 Colonel Robert Debs Heinl Award for Marine Corps history was awarded to Mr. Jack Shulimson and Dr. Graham A. Cosmas for their article in the November 1981 issue of Marine Corps Gazette, “Teddy Roosevelt and the Corps’ Sea-Going Mission.”

2- 6 June – The Marine Security Guard Detachment in Paris, France, provided support during President Reagan’s visit at the Versailles Summit.

7 June – The embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was the subject of a rocket and machine gun attack which caused minimal damage. A Marine was wounded by shrapnel but continued in a full-duty status.

8 June – Camp Kuwae, Marine Corps Base, Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, was renamed Camp Lester in honor of the late Hospital Apprentice (HA) First Class Fred F. Lester, USNR. HA1 Lester was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism while serving as a medical corpsman attached to the 6th Marine Division on Okinawa during World War II.

11 June – Colonel Michael P. Sullivan, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 11, became the first Marine Corps pilot to achieve 4,000 accident-free flight hours in an F-4 “Phantom” aircraft.

21 June - 2 July – 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB) units from Camp Pendleton and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms participated in Exercise “Stratmobex 2-82” to exercise and test 7th MAB alert, marshalling, and deployment plans and procedures.

23 June – Initial evacuation of the American Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, began with the Marine Security Guard Detachment providing security.

24 June – The American Embassy in Beirut was secured then abandoned due to severe fighting in the area. Remaining personnel were relocated to the ambassador’s residence in the nearby city of Yarze. Nine Marines of the Marine Security Guard Detachment provided security.

26 June - 26 November – Over 250 Marines from the 2d Marine Division and the 2d Force Service Support Group participated with other U.S. forces and navy/air forces from various South American nations in Exercise “Unitas XXIII” designed to promote military professionalism between the United States and participating South American navies.

28 June – The Marine Corps’ last C-117D aircraft was officially retired at Marine Corps Air Station, Iwakuni, Japan, after a final flight to Naval Air Station, Cubi Point, in the Republic of the Philippines. Better known as the “Skytrain,” the C-117D had been used for combat support, transporting troops, cargo lift, medical evacuations, and had been modified for cold weather missions by having skis attached.

30 June – The strength of the armed forces was 2,107,709, of which 193,399 were Marines.

2 July – The last Marine U11A Piper “Aztec” aircraft was retired at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina.

9 July – President Ronald Reagan designated this date as National POW/MIA Recognition Day, in honor of all former American prisoners of war, those still missing, and their families. The President called on all Americans to join in honoring those who made the uncommon sacrifices of being held captive in war. From World War I to the Vietnam conflict, more than 142,000 U.S. servicemen were taken prisoner and more than 17,000 died while in captivity. During the same period, more than 92,000 servicemen were lost in combat and their remains were never recovered.

16 July – Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 101 participated with U.S. air and naval forces, along with Canadian military forces, in Exercise “Amalgam Chief 82-5” designed to exercise NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense) personnel throughout the radar network along with fighter-interceptor squadrons.

16 July – Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 164 (HMM-164) was the first squadron recognized by the Boeing/Vertol Company, the manufacturer of the CH-46 “Sea Knight” helicopter, to reach 100,000 cumlative flight hours. HMM-164 is based at Marine Corps Air Station (Helicopter), Tustin, California.

18 July – Operation “Phoenix Bear,” an all-Reserve amphibious landing exercise, was executed by the 46th Marine Amphibious Unit to test readiness of reservists and equipment for partial or complete mobilization at Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

26 July – The USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) was launched by Todd Shipyard Corporation, Seattle, Washington. The ship was named in honor of General Alexander A. Vandegrift, the 18th Commandant of the Marine Corps (January 1944 – December 1947).

29 July – Colonel Justice M. Chambers, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism on Iwo Jima, died at National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, at the age of 74. Colonel Chambers commanded the 3d Battalion, 25th Marines in the Iwo Jima landing on 19 February 1945. In addition to the Medal of Honor, Colonel Chambers received many other medals including the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with Combat “V,” and three Purple Hearts. Commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1932, Colonel Chambers retired from the Marine Corps Reserve on 1 January 1946. After his retirement, he began a career in the federal government largely devoted to the Nation’s non-military preparedness.

5 August – General Paul X. Kelley, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps and Chief of Staff, laid the keel of the Dock Landing Ship 42 (LSD 42) at the Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company in Seattle, Washington. The ship is designed to transport combat-ready and equipped Marines to a deployment area.

6 August – Deputy Secretary of Defense Frank C. Carlucci, Postmaster General William F. Bolger, and Army Sergeant John O. Marsh dedicated a new twenty cent embossed stamped envelope commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Purple Heart award.

7 - 9 August – The 40th anniversary of the landing on the beaches of Guadalcanal and Tulagi in the Solomon Islands during World War II was observed. The landings marked the first Allied land offensive in the Pacific and were the first amphibious assaults against the enemy forces by the 1st Marine Division (Reinforced).

14 August – President Reagan proclaimed this day as National Navajo Code Talkers Day to honor the Navajo code talkers from the New Mexico and Arizona reservations who joined the Marine Corps during World War II. They used their native language as a base for a Marine Corps communications code in operations against the Japanese throughout the Pacific.

25 August – Approximately 800 Marines of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit under the command of Colonel James Mead went ashore in Beirut, Lebanon, to form the United States element of a multinational force called in to assist Lebanese armed forces and to assure the safe and orderly departure of Palestine Liberation Organization forces from Lebanon. U.S. Marines joined approximately 400 French and 800 Italian military personnel to form the peacekeeping force.

27 August - 18 October – Marines from the 4th Marine Amphibious Brigade and sailors from east coast commands joined forces with servicemen from nine other NATO nations to participate in two exercises: “Northern Wedding ‘82” and “Bold Guard ‘82” in Norway, Denmark, and the Federal Republic of Germany. The exercises tested the capacity of alliance forces to bring in reinforcements and resist aggression in the Atlantic, Baltic, and Norwegian sea areas. The exercises provided an opportunity for the conduct of a combined amphibious assault in the North Sea followed by a tactical reembarkation for subsequent amphibious landings in the Baltic approaches and the Baltic.

1 September – General Roy S. Geiger was named to the Naval Aviation Hall of Honor and will be enshrined in the Hall of Honor in May of 1983. General Geiger was the first Marine aviator to have tactical command of all Marine Corps ground forces in the Pacific during World War II, and, as a lieutenant general, became the third Marine officer to wear three stars on active duty. On 30 June 1947, Congress passed a special act promoting General Geiger posthumously to four-star rank in the Marine Corps.

2 September – Captain Dirk R. Ahle, of Weapons Company, 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division was the recipient of the 1982 Leftwich trophy for outstanding leadership as the unit’s company commander. The award was presented to Captain Ahle who is from St. Louis, Missouri, at the evening parade at the Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.

10 September – By order of the President, Marines of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit were withdrawn from Lebanon for scheduled redeployment to Camp Lejeune.

15 September – The Marine Detachment, USS New Jersey activated at Long Beach, California. The detachment will help man the vessel that has assisted the Marine Corps in accomplishing its mission in three wars. The USS New Jersey is scheduled to be brought back for a fourth tour of duty in formal recommissioning ceremonies in January 1983.

20 September – President Reagan announced that U.S. forces will again join French and Italian troops in Beirut to enable the government of Lebanon to resume control of the city. President Reagan’s decision was spurred by the massacre of hundreds of Muslim Palestinians, reportedly by Lebanese Christian militiamen, in two Beirut refugee camps.

25 September – Camp Pendleton, California, the largest Marine Corps amphibious base, celebrated its 40th anniversary. First dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1942, the Marine Corps base has been the home of the 1st, 3d, 4th, and 5th Marine Divisions spanning three wars. It is currently the home of the I Marine Amphibious Force, the 1st Marine Division, 1st Force Service Support Group, and Marine Aircraft Group 39.

26 September – The Defense Department announced that the Armed Forces, in an effort to find contraband, have the power to open overseas mail for the first time since World War II.

26 September – The Navy Unit Commendation was awarded to Marines and sailors for their handling of the U.S. peacekeeping effort in Beirut, Lebanon. While on the initial 16-day operation, Marines of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit oversaw the departure of more than 6,000 Palestine Liberation Organization soldiers. Marine Corps Commandant, General Robert Barrow, and the Commander of the Sixth Fleet, Vice Admiral William Rowden, presented the awards in a ceremony aboard the USS Guam, about sixty miles off the coast of Beirut.

27 September – The laying of the keel for FFG 47, a guided missile frigate, took place at Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine. FFG 47 will be named in honor of Major Samuel Nicholas, the Revolutionary War Marine who is considered to be the Corps’ first Commandant.

29 September – 1,200 Marines of the 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) again joined 2,200 French and Italian troops already in Beirut, Lebanon, as part of the multinational peacekeeping force assigned to protect Palestinians and prevent factional strife of the sort that led to the massacres at the Palestinian refugee villages of Sabra and Shatila. The 32d MAU was under the command of Colonel James Mead.

30 September – The strength of the armed forces was 2,108,612, of which 195,715 were Marines.

30 September – Corporal David L. Reagan, USMC, serving with the multinational peacekeeping force, was killed and three other Marines wounded as they attempted to defuse a piece of ordnance inside the grounds of the international airport in Beirut, Lebanon.

1 October – The Marine Detachment, USS Long Beach was reactivated at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington.

5 October – The Communications/Electronics School at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, celebrated its 40th anniversary. The Marine Corps’ largest formal school offers 69 classes to Marines in 38 different job specialties.

9 October – Station Operations and Maintenance Squadron (SOMS) activated at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro. The activation of SOMS was a result of splitting Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, the largest squadron in the Marine Corps, to form two separate squadrons. The split made the SOM’S command responsible for all station aircraft activities.

15 October – Three thousand precooked and frozen hamburgers, complete with bun, ketchup, salt and pickle, were shipped to U.S. Marines serving in Beirut as part of several American companies’ reaction to headlines that Marines were not eating as well as their French and Italian counterparts. The burgers were paid for and shipped free of charge by American firms in response to an appeal by radio Station WDJX in Dayton, Ohio.

15 October – Fiscal year (FY) 1982 topped FY81 and was cited by the Defense Department as the best recruiting and retention year for the armed forces since the draft ended in 1973. Not only did the Marine Corps meet its recruiting goals, but 90 percent of the recruits were high school graduates. The retention of quality Marines during FY82 resulted in the second largest number of reenlistments on record.

18 October – The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), the “Humvee”, replaced the jeep and some of its younger brothers. The “Humvee” is a basic four-wheel drive 1 and ¼ ton payload vehicle that will serve as a personnel carrier, cargo carrier, command vehicle, weapons platform, and ambulance. Contracts for the development of this vehicle were scheduled to be awarded at the end of 1982 in a contest involving AM General, Teledyne Continental Motors, and General Dynamics, who competed for a $1 billion, 5-year contract for 50,000 vehicles including an option for another 50,000 at a later date.

19 October – A decision was reached by the Marine Corps Chief of Staff Committee to develop a new concept for organizing and manning Marine Air Ground Task Force Headquarters. The new plan called for the establishment of three Marine Amphibious Force planning headquarters each headed by a brigadier general and each permanently staffed with 47 officers and 45 enlisted men. Six Marine amphibious brigades, two in each division-wing team, manned by 65 officers and 85 enlisted men, were also planned.

22 October – Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 13 (H&MS-13) was awarded the 1982 Villard C. Sledge Memorial Award for best J52 turboshaft engine repair unit in the naval service. H&MS-13 has received the award for five consecutive years.

22 October – In a recent test of the new “Meal, Ready-to-Eat” (MRE) rations, 91.5 percent of the Marines at Camp Lejeune preferred the new C rations over the old ones. The most important feature of the new C rations was the old tin cans gave way to a new flexible package – a “retort” pouch. MREs are lighter than C rations and the new packaging materials are designed to withstand climate and rough handling stresses. The new MREs will be issued this year as old C ration supplies are depleted.

29 October – The 24th Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU), under the command of Colonel Thomas M. Stokes, Jr., replaced the 32d MAU as part of the multinational peacekeeping force in Beirut, Lebanon.

29 October - 3 November – The 32d Marine Amphibious Unit backload into five amphibious ships in Beirut enroute to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

4 November – U.S. Marines extended their presence in the Lebanese capital of Beirut to the Christian eastern sector, sending their first patrol into one of the most devastated areas along the old “Green Line” that for seven years divided the war torn city into sectarian parts. The Marines carried M16 rifles and .45 caliber pistols, while two of the jeeps were mounted with 60 mm machine guns.

5 November – Retired Marine Corps General Edwin Allen Pollock, 83, the only Marine to command both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Marine Forces died in Charleston, South Carolina. He commanded the 1st Marine Division in Korea from August 1952 - June 1953.

7 November – The Seventh Annual Marine Corps Marathon took place in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia, covering 26 miles and 385 yards. 9,996 runners from every state and 27 foreign countries participated in the second largest marathon in the nation after New York’s. Jeff Smith, a 27-year-old postal worker from Cumberland, Maryland, took first place with a time of 2:21:29.

9 November – The “Green Knights” of Marine Attack Squadron 121 exceeded the 45,000-hour accident free flight mark. This milestone marked more than eleven years of accident free flying and distinguished the “Green Knights” as the leading accident-free fixed-wing tactical jet squadron in the Marine Corps.

9 November – The Commandant of the Marine Corps issued a statement elaborating on the approval of the Marine Corps’ new service rifle, the M16A2. The M16A1 underwent significant engineering changes to produce a more sound and reliable weapon. The Commandant stated that the Marine Corps’ well-deserved reputation for military professionalism stems in part from the unique relationship that has existed between a Marine and his rifle and from the Corps’ devotion to marksmanship proficiency as a fundamental skill of all Marines. The Commandant also stated that he was confident that the selection of the M16A2 will enhance the Corps’ combat effectiveness. Due to the rapidly declining inventory of M161As, the Corps has elected to replace them with the newer models on a one-for-one basis in FY84, with inventory conversion completed by FY89.

10 November – Marines throughout the world celebrated the 207th birthday of the Marine Corps, in honor of the founding of the Marine Corps on 10 November 1775 by the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia. In his birthday message, the Commandant of the Marine Corps said that “on this special day, as always, those who rely on us can feel confident that, if needed, we are ready.”

10 November – The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing celebrated its 40th birthday at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California.

11 November – Space shuttle Columbia’s first satellite-carrying commercial flight took place with Marine Colonel Robert Overmyer on board as pilot of the vehicle and Vance D. Brand, a former Marine who served with the Corps from 1953-1957, as shuttle commander. The four-astronaut team successfully released a massive communications satellite from the space shuttle Columbia and left it behind them in the open sea of space.

13 November – The dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial took place at the memorial site in Washington, D.C., immediately following a parade in tribute to Vietnam Veterans. The dedication and parade was part of the week long National Salute to Vietnam Veterans which included a candlelight vigil, unit reunion registration, and religious services for Marine Corps Vietnam veterans and those from other services.

16 November – Space shuttle Columbia, piloted by a Marine and commanded by a former Marine, landed at Edwards Air Force Base, California, at the completion of a successful mission which included the placing into orbit around the earth of two $50 million communications satellites.

24 November – The 32d Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) arrived at Morehead City, North Carolina, from Beirut, Lebanon, concluding its Mediterranean deployment. The 32d MAU was relieved in Beirut on 29 October 1982 by the 24th MAU and participated in a training exercise in Morocco prior to its return.

24 November – The last F-4 “Phantom” fighters departed Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), El Toro, California. Flight operations have been slowly phased out at MCAS El Toro due to the noise levels of modern aircraft and their incompatibility with neighboring communities. This marked the end of a twenty-year era at the air station.

3 December – The new Federal Aviation Administration Building in New York City was named after Major Robert M. Fitzgerald, a highly decorated Marine aviator. Major Fitzgerald was killed in action in the Quang Nam Province of Vietnam on 1 June 1970 while attempting a helicopter rescue of a six-man reconnaissance team that was engaged in combat.

3- 7 December – The 31st Marine Amphibious Unit participated in Exercise “Jade Tiger 83” conducted at Wahibah Sands, Oman. The exercise included close air support in conjunction with the establishment of the beachhead by amphibious forces, follow-on strikes as the force moved inland, and interdiction against designated hostile surface contacts.

7 December – President Reagan approved the activation of a new U.S. Central Command (US CENTCOM) responsible for protecting U.S. security interests in the Middle East, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean areas. The command will be empowered to draw from a pool of about 230,000 troops in the U.S. in the event of a war emergency in that critical region. The unified command is an outgrowth of the Rapid Deployment Force created by the Carter Administration in 1980, in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afganistan.

10 December – A 250-man Marine Detachment assigned to Exercise “UNITAS XXII” and the “West African Training Cruise 82” on board the USS Portland returned after a six-month deployment. Navy and embarked Marine Corps personnel made goodwill visits to numerous African areas conducting training activities, community relations projects, open houses, and other events to enhance U.S. and African relations.

13 December – U.S. Marine peacekeeping troops began training a special unit of the Lebanese Army in an expansion of the American role in Lebanon. About 75 Lebanese soldiers joined a company of 220 Marines at the Americans’ camp near Beirut airport for 21 days of training in basic infantry skills including helicopter assaults.

16 December – The 36th anniversary of Fleet Marine Force Atlantic was observed. The force was born out of necessity for a grouping of Marine air, ground, and specialized units under one command to produce the Marine Corps highly effective air-ground “Force in Readiness.” This force in readiness was able to respond quickly and effectively to the crisis in Lebanon this year.

29 December – The USS New Jersey was recommissioned. The battleship was first commissioned in 1943 and fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The New Jersey was modernized with the addition of 32 Tomahawk Cruise missiles, 16 Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles, and a close-in weapons system of computerized radar-guided Gatling guns. Three helicopters, known as Light Airborne MultiWeapons System (LAMPS), have also been added. The modernizing and commissioning of the battleship took place three weeks ahead of schedule. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Barrow, and President Reagan attended the recommissioning ceremonies. Two officers and 42 enlisted men make up the Marine Detachment on board.

31 December – Marine Fighter Squadron 214, 3d Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, was named attack squadron of the year and received the Lawson H.S. Sanderson Award. Major General Sanderson was the Marine Corps’ dive-bombing pioneer noted for his experimental close support bombing exercises. The award was established to recognize superior performance of a Marine attack squadron.

31 December – The Commandant announced that Marine Corps aviation achieved a new milestone of a major mishap rate of approximately 6.3 major mishaps per 100,000 flight hours for 1982. Against the 6.5 goal the Commandant set for 1982, this represented significant progress and is the lowest annual rate ever attained by Marine Corps aviation. While the ultimate goal of Marine Corps aviation will continue to be a zero mishap rate, the Commandant was confident that with the emphasis on successful measures already established, the Marine Corps can continue to work towards that goal by attaining a mishap rate of 6.0 or less in 1983.


Reference Branch
USMC History Division

Marine Corps University