Chronologies - 2008


1 January – The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,409,897 of whom 186,342 were U.S. Marines. 
11 January – A third drill instructor was found guilty of dereliction of duty for his role in the abuse of recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, between December 2006 and February 2007.  Sgt Robert Hankins was reduced in rank to lance corporal and sentenced to 90 days of hard labor without confinement.  Pvt Jerrod Glass and Sgt Brian Wendel were found guilty of various charges at court-martial and sentenced in connection with the case late in 2007.    
15 January – Marine Corps officials announced that approximately 3,200 Marines and sailors with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) would be deployed in the spring of 2008 to Afghanistan in response to a request for additional forces from the NATO-International Security Assistance Force commander. 
21 January – The Marine Corps involuntarily activated 870 Marines from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), most for duty in Iraq.  Military occupational specialties called up included motor transport, communications, engineers and some artillery. 
22 January – Regimental Combat Team 5 (RCT-5) assumed operational control of a large portion of western Al Anbar Province in Iraq.  RCT-5, based out of Camp Pendleton, California, replaced RCT-2.  RCT-2 returned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, by the end of the month after spending 13 months in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
26 January – Marines and sailors with 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (3d MAW) deployed to Iraq as part of the larger troop rotation plan to replace II Marine Expeditionary Force units with I MEF units.  The following day, RCT-6 officially transferred its area of operations in Iraq to RCT-1 during a ceremony at Camp Fallujah.     
29 January – Testimony ended in a special court of inquiry into the allegations that a Marine special operations unit opened fire on Afghanistan civilians in March 2007, killing several people.  No individual Marines faced charges in the case but the findings from the court of inquiry were to be forwarded to LtGen Samuel T. Helland to decide if further actions were warranted.    
1 February – The Marine Corps subpoenaed outtakes from a “60 Minutes” TV interview given by SSgt Frank Wuterich, the Marine squad leader accused of leading a group of Camp Pendleton Marines in the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha on 19 November 2005.  CBS News, producers of “60 Minutes,” refused to turn over the tapes.  Two weeks later, it was also announced that LCpl Stephen Tatum would be ordered to testify against his former squad leader despite still facing charges in the case.  
7 February – 2d Marine Logistics Group (2d MLG) transferred responsibility for combat logistics in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province to 1st MLG.  Three days later, the nearly 3,000 Marines and sailors with 2d MLG began returning home to Camp Lejeune.  The unit had spent 13-months deployed to Iraq.  
12 February – Marines with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, began arriving home at Camp Pendleton after completing a seven-month deployment in support of 
Operation Iraqi Freedom.   At the end of the month, Marines with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, also began arriving home from Iraq at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on the 26th.
14 February – Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, turned over major responsibility for protecting Hit, Iraq, in the Euphrates River valley to Iraqi security forces.  The Marines moved outside the city limits but remained close enough to provide assistance if insurgents attempted an assault. 
16 February – 3d Battalion, 23d Marines, 3d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (3d LAR), and Iraqi security forces conducted a joint-heliborne operation in the Al Anbar Province intent on denying enemy insurgents safe havens and to gather intelligence.  The operation was also used to show the Iraqi people the capabilities of their own security forces.
18 February – Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James T. Conway, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj Carlton Kent, paid a visit to Marines serving in Iraq at Camp Taqaddum and the surrounding area.  The town hall-style meetings allowed Marines to discuss issues ranging from new rules regarding tattoos to dealing with battlefield stress.
22 February – Marine Corps Special Operations Command commemorated its second anniversary by breaking ground for its new headquarters building at Camp Lejeune.
22 February – Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 (VMFA-115) and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 (MALS-31) departed Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina, for a seven-month deployment to Al Asad Air Base in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  A week later, Combat Logistics Battalion 6 (CLB-6) also departed Camp Lejeune for Iraq. 
25 February – China finally agreed to the long-standing request from the U.S. to permit access to sensitive military records that might hold information regarding the fate of numerous U.S. servicemembers still unaccounted for from the Korean War.  The agreement did not give U.S. researchers direct access to the records but was viewed as a positive step.
3 March – It was announced that the Toys for Tots charity was expanding to include a new year-round literacy program.  The charity, one of the largest and most well-known in the U.S., began raising money to purchase books for needy kids as well as help fund literacy programs at libraries. 
7 March – The special court of inquiry commissioned to hear testimony regarding Marines killing 19 Afghani civilians in March 2007 delivered its report to LtGen Samuel T. Helland, commander of Marine Corps Forces, Central Command.  Due to the inclusion of classified material, the report was not made public.
9 March – One Marine was killed and 22 injured when the bus they were traveling in overturned.  The Marines, reservists with Company E, Anti-Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Division, were taking part in a training exercise at Fort Rucker in Alabama when the accident occurred.  The civilian driver was later charged with reckless driving.
13 March – Marines with 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (1st ANGLICO) left Camp Pendleton for a seven-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
17 March – Marines with 24th MEU began arriving in southern Afghanistan for a scheduled seven-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The unit was based in Kandahar Province, the Taliban’s former power base.
19 March – This date marked the fifth anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
28 March – The Marine Corps dropped all charges and granted full immunity to LCpl Stephen Tatum just as jury selection was about to begin for his court-
martial in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005.  LCpl Tatum was the third of the four initially charged enlisted Marines to have all charges dropped.  
31 March – VMFA-212, originally commissioned on 1 March 1942, was placed in cadre status during a ceremony at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.  The squadron was scheduled to be reactivated as a joint strike fighter squadron once the F-35B aircraft became operational.
4 April – More than 200 Marines from 3d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion (3d LAAD) returned to Camp Pendleton from a seven-month deployment to Djibouti, Horn of Africa.  The Marines spent the deployment manning checkpoints, conducting joint patrols with the Djibouti army, and completing small civic projects.
11 April – The keel was laid for the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) at the Bath Iron Works, in Bath, Maine.  Named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Cpl Jason Dunham, the ship will be an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer 511 feet long, with berths for 380 service members when completed. 
14 April – Marine reservists with 3d Battalion, 23d Marines, began arriving home at Camp Lejeune following a seven-month deployment to Haditha, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
16 April – The Department of Defense (DOD) approved the wearing of campaign stars on the Afghanistan and Iraq Campaign Medals for service members who have been on multiple deployments to those areas.  One campaign star may be worn for participation in each of the campaign phases designated by DOD.  Marine Administrative Message 299/08 (MARADMIN 299/08) was released on 20 May 2008 with the inclusive dates.
19 April – The historic deployment of the Marine Corps’ first operational MV-22 Osprey squadron came to an end as the main body of Marine Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263) returned home to MCAS New River, North Carolina.  The squadron spent seven months operating out of the Al Asad Air Base and was replaced by VMM-162.
21 April – Marines from 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, began deploying from Camp Lejeune to Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
25 April – Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion was redesignated Marine Corps Security Forces Regiment in a ceremony at Naval Operating Base, 
Norfolk, Virginia.  Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James T. Conway, approved the reorganization in January 2008.
26 April – All Marine Message 015/08 (ALMAR 015/08) announced that Capt Jonathan R. Smith from Battalion Landing Team 2/4, 31st MEU, was selected as the 2007 recipient of the Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership.  
29 April – More than 1,000 Marines with the 24th MEU stormed into the Taliban-held town of Garmser in southern Afghanistan in the first major American operation in the region in years.  Although the Marines met little resistance, bomb-making material and rockets were found and weapons fire was exchanged in two sections of the town.   
6 May – Marines of Task Force National Capital Region began returning home to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, after spending six months deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The specially created task force handled security details while in Iraq but was predominately made up of Marines not normally assigned infantry duties.  
6 May – A Camp Pendleton Marine who was sentenced to 15 years in prison on 3 August 2007 for killing an Iraqi man in April 2006 in Hamandiya, Iraq, had 
his sentence reduced by four years.  Then-Sgt Lawrence G. Hutchins III, was convicted of numerous charges in connection with the case, the most serious being unpremeditated murder.
11 May – Members of 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, began returning home to Camp Lejeune following a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Eight days later, Marines with 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, also arrived back at Camp Lejeune from Iraq after a seven-month deployment.    
20 May – The Marine Corps officially reactivated the 3d Battalion, 9th Marines, during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune.  The battalion had been deactivated since 1994.  
23 May – LtGen Samuel T. Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, made the decision not to bring criminal charges against two officers whose special operations unit was accused of killing as many as 19 Afghanistan civilians in March 2007.  The general made the decision after reviewing the findings of a special tribunal that had spent three weeks hearing testimony in the case in January.
28 May – The first of three scheduled court-martials pending against members of the Camp Pendleton-based 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, for the slaying of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005, began.  1stLt Andrew A. Grayson, a former intelligence officer, was not present at the time of the incident but was charged with improperly investigating the deaths as well as ordering another Marine to destroy evidence.
1 June – Marines with the 24th MEU, along with British forces of Task Force Helmand, launched a new operation in the southern portion of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province.  British forces pushed south from one of their forward operating bases and secured routes west of Marine positions allowing the Marines to push into new areas previously held by insurgents.
2 June – Gen James N. Mattis testified during a hearing at Camp Pendleton  that he neither sought nor received advice from an assistant whose counsel would have tainted the military’s case against troops connected to the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq.   Gen Mattis denied any conflict of interests in his decision to send LtCol Jeffery Chessani to court-martial for failing to properly investigate or report the Haditha incident.  The military judge in charge later determined Gen Mattis was improperly influenced and dismissed all charges against LtCol Chessani on 17 June.
4 June – 1stLt Andrew A. Grayson was acquitted of all charges against him in connection with the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha on 19 November 2005.  Although not present at the scene of the killings, he was accused of telling a sergeant to delete photographs of the dead from a digital camera and laptop computer.   
5 June – Jacklyn “Jack” H. Lucas, the youngest Marine to receive the Medal of Honor, died at the age of 80 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  In February 1945, Lucas was just days past his 17th birthday when he hurled himself onto two enemy grenades and saved the lives of other Marines during the battle for Iwo Jima.  He spent the next several months undergoing dozens of surgeries to remove shrapnel.  He was laid to rest at Highland Cemetery in Hattiesburg.
7 June – Marines and sailors from the 26th MEU stepped up to aid local and state civil authorities in central Indiana after the state was hit with heavy rainfall that sent rivers to levels not seen since 1913.  The unit, which was in Indiana to complete three weeks of urban training, helped secure levees, surveyed storm damage, and evacuated equipment from flooded hospitals.
11 June – Vietnam Navy Cross recipient, retired Col John W. Ripley, became the first Marine to be inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame.  The Ranger Hall of Fame honors and preserves the contributions of the most extraordinary Rangers in American history and strives to identify and highlight individuals as role models for current Rangers and to educate the public about the culture of the U.S. Army Rangers. 
11 June – The Marine variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft made its first test flight near Fort Worth, Texas.  The JSF is a short take-off vertical landing fighter jet being developed by Lockheed Martin.
19 June – Retired Gen Peter Pace, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush.  The medal was originally established in 1945 to recognize civilians for their efforts during World War II and reinstated in 1963 to honor those who had made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the U.S., world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors.   
21 June – Marine Aircraft Group 42 (MAG-42), based at Naval Air Station Atlanta, Georgia, was placed in cadre status. 
1 July – The Department of Defense marked the 35th anniversary of the nation’s all-volunteer armed forces.   Until July 1973, the military operated under an involuntary draft policy to produce manpower to fight the United States’ wars.  Draftees served during both world wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.  
2 July – LtGen James F. Amos was advanced to the rank of general and assumed duties as the 31st Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Gen Amos replaced Gen Robert Magnus who officially retired from active service on 1 September 2008.
26 July – This date marked the 60th Anniversary of President Harry S. Truman signing the executive order to integrate the armed forces, allowing African-American troops to serve in a desegregated military.
26-27 July – Marines with 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, shipped out from Camp Lejeune for a seven-month deployment to Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
29 July – The family of Sgt Michael Strank, one of the six Iwo Jima flag raisers, was presented with his citizenship papers at a ceremony at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Virginia. Sgt Strank, killed in action on 1 March 1945, came to the U.S. at the age of 3 from his native Czechoslovakia and received citizenship when his father was naturalized in 1935.  However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services discovered he never received his citizenship certificate and moved to correct the oversight. 
29 July – Prosecutors appealed the decision to dismiss charges against LtCol Jeffrey Chessani in connection with the killing of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha in November 2005.  Charges of failing to investigate and report the incident were dropped 17 June 2008.  LtCol Chessani was the highest-ranking officer to face charges in the case.
__ August – The Pentagon ordered roughly 1,250 Marines serving in Afghanistan as trainers with Afghan security forces to stay in country for a month longer than originally planned.  The Marines of 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, were ordered to stay the extra 30 days just one month after the tour was also extended for 24th MEU.
8 August – The new Marine Corps helicopter, the UH-1Y Huey, gained initial operating capability.  The helicopter was the first newly engineered Huey helicopter the Corps had introduced in more than 35 years.
8 August – LtGen Samuel T. Helland, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, ordered Sgt Ryan Weemer to court-martial on charges of unpremeditated murder and dereliction of duty in the killing of unarmed detainees in Fallujah, Iraq, on 9 November 2004.  The case came to light in 2006 when Sgt Weemer volunteered details to a U.S. Secret Service interviewer during a polygraph screening that included a question about the most serious crime he had ever committed.  Two other Marines were also implicated in the crime and were facing charges.
14 August – About 120 Marines from 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, began returning home to Marine Corps Base Hawaii following a seven-month deployment to Iraq.  The rest of the unit was scheduled to return later in the month.  The next day, more than 1,000 Marines and sailors from 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, also began returning home to Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms, California, following a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
19 August – The civilian trial for former Marine Sgt Jose Nazario, Jr., in the death of unarmed Iraqi detainees in Fallujah, Iraq, in November 2004, began.  The trial marked the first time a little-known federal law had been used to prosecute a former Marine or soldier for actions during combat.  Former Sgt Nazario was the first of three Marines to go on trial in connection with the case.
26 August – Iraqi leaders signed the Command and Control Memorandum of Understanding in a ceremony at the Anbar Governance Center in the Al Anbar Province, a step towards taking full control and responsibility for security from Coalition forces.    
28 August – A civilian jury acquitted former Marine Sgt Jose Nazario, Jr., of all charges after six hours of deliberation in connection with the death of unarmed 
Iraqi detainees in Fallujah, in November 2004.  Two Marines, Sgt Ryan Weemer and Sgt Jermaine Nelson, still faced court-martial in the case and were found in contempt of court for refusing to testify against their former squadmate during his trial.  

1 September – Iraqi security forces assumed responsibility for security of Al Anbar Province.  The Marine Corps main area of operation, Al Anbar was the 
11th of Iraq’s 18 provinces to come under provincial Iraqi control.  Marines remained deployed to the area to provide support and training to the Iraqi security forces.
5 September – Marines and sailors from 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, and Combat Logistics Battalion 7 (CLB-7) returned home to Marine Corps Base Twentynine Palms following a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Ten days later, on the 15th, the last group of more than 700 Marines and sailors from CLB-6 also returned from Iraq to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
8 September – U.S. Marines from the 24th MEU turned over responsibility for Garmser in the southern province of Helmand to the British and Afghans.  Marines re-took the key town from Taliban militants in an operation earlier in the year.    
16 September – Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 began returning home to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, following a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
17 September – Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter announced he would award the Navy Cross to Sgt Rafael Peralta, who pulled an enemy grenade to his body before it exploded on 15 November 2004 during fighting in Fallujah, Iraq.  The announcement surprised many who believed Sgt Peralta should have been awarded the Medal of Honor and lead to numerous calls from lawmakers and others for the case to be reviewed. 
23 September – Marines with 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, began deploying to Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
1 October – Marine Corps Forces, Central Command transferred operational control of Marine Corps forces in the Horn of Africa region to the newly established Marine Corps Forces Africa under the fledgling U.S. Africa Command.
6 October – The Pentagon announced a revision to the Purple Heart eligibility criteria for prisoners of war (POWs) who died in captivity.  The revised policy allows for the retroactive awarding of the medal to qualifying POWs from 7 December 1941 forward and has the potential to affect 17,000 former service members.
9 October – About 500 Marines from 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion returned home to Camp Lejeune following a seven-month deployment to Iraq with the rest of the unit following later in the week.  
13 October – Marines with the 24th MEU began cycling out of Afghanistan after an eight-month deployment to the country in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  The Marines returned in waves throughout the coming weeks.   
23 October – Today marked the 25th Anniversary of the devastating bombing of the Marine Corps Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.  In 1983, 241 American servicemen, 220 who were Marines, were killed when a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with explosives into the four-story barracks building while the men slept.  The attack was the deadliest single day in Marine Corps history since the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.
23 October – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 467 was formally activated at a ceremony at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina.  The squadron’s activation brought UH-1N Huey transport helicopters and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters to the air station for the first time in its history.
26 October – Nearly 20,000 runners gathered in the Washington D.C. area to participate in the 33rd Annual Marine Corps Marathon.  The male and female first-place finishers where first time competitors in the 26.2 mile run, with Andrew Dumm finishing in a little over 2 hours 22 minutes while Cate Fenster finished with a time of 2 hours 48 minutes.  
28 October – Navy Cross recipient and former director of the Marine Corps History and Museums Division, Col John W. Ripley, passed away at his home in Annapolis, Maryland, at the age of 69.  His death came mere months after becoming the only Marine to be inducted into the U.S. Army Rangers Hall of Fame.  He was laid to rest at his alma mater, the U.S. Naval Academy, on 7 November.
30 October – Former Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Robert H. Barrow, died in St. Francisville, Louisiana, at the age of 86.  A veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, he served as Commandant from 1979 to 1983.  Gen Barrow was instrumental in drafting reforms for both Marine recruiting and training during his time as Commandant.  He was laid to rest with full military honors on 3 November in St. Francisville.    
__November – Marines and sailors with 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, began returning to the U.S. following an unexpected deployment to Afghanistan.  Originally scheduled to deploy to Iraq, the unit was instead sent to Afghanistan in April to help overwhelmed NATO forces.  The phased return home was completed in early December.   
2 November – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 began leaving Camp Pendleton to begin another seven-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
4 November – Barack Obama was elected as the 44th President of the United States of America.
10 November – Marines around the world celebrated the Marine Corps’ 233rd Birthday.  Ceremonies were held across the U.S. and elsewhere, including Iraq 
and Afghanistan, as Marines came together to celebrate the Corps’ history and to look to the future.
14 November – The last of the 3,000 Marines stationed in Fallujah, Iraq, were pulled out of the city center as part of the U.S. plan to hand security operations for the city over to Iraqi security forces.  
14 November – MARADMIN 633/08 announced new requirements for Marines readying for deployment to war zones.  Marines now must undergo “baseline predeployment neurocognitive testing” four to six months prior to deployment.  The goal of the screening is to assess whether a Marine is mentally able to deploy and gives the Corps test results that doctors can refer to if the Marine is later involved in any violent action that can impact brain function.  
17 November – An extensive federal report was released concluding that roughly one in four Gulf War veterans suffer from Gulf War illness.  The 452-page report concluded that the condition is the likely consequence of exposure to toxic chemicals, including pesticides and a drug administered to protect troops from nerve agents. 
20 November – Today marked the 65th Anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Tarawa.   
1 December – President-elect Barack Obama announced retired Marine Corps Commandant, Gen James L. Jones, as his pick for National Security Advisor.  Gen Jones served as Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1999-2003 and as Commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2003 until his retirement in 2007.
3 December – Marines with RCT-5 finalized the demilitarization of the Haditha Dam located along the Euphrates River in Iraq.  Security for the area was turned over to the Iraqi government.
4 December – The Marine Corps dedicated a new medical training facility on Camp Johnson at Camp Lejeune to Petty Officer 2nd Class John Bradley.  PO2 Bradley was one of the six men captured by photographer Joe Rosenthal raising the American flag on top of Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. 
8 December – An F/A-18D Hornet jet based at MCAS Miramar, California, crashed into a San Diego civilian neighborhood approximately two miles from the landing strip.  The crash killed a woman, her two young daughters, and her mother, and destroyed two homes.  The pilot was returning to Miramar from training on a Navy carrier offshore when he reported mechanical problems. The pilot was able to safely eject at the last possible moment.  An investigation into the crash determined it was mechanical not pilot error that lead to the tragedy.
8 December – MARADMIN 689/09 was signed, allowing for Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Marines on involuntary orders to voluntarily extend to remain deployed.   
19 December – 2d Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Marine Division, activated Force Reconnaissance Company during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune.    
29 December – Three-war veteran and author, LtGen Victor H. Krulak, passed away at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, at the age of 95.  He was laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, California. 
31 December – The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,444,553 of whom 198,902 were U.S. Marines.
Reference Branch
USMC History Division

Marine Corps University