1 January - The strength of the U.S. Armed Forces was 1,372,352, of whom 171,676 were U.S. Marines.
9 January - The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) began the Training in an Urban Environment Exercise (TRUEX) in Savannah, Georgia, to prepare for an upcoming deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. Local residents came out to witness this unique training, which included Marines from 24th MEU’s Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF) fast roping from CH-46 helicopters (HMM-266) onto the roof of a city building.
16 January - Ten years ago, the air war against Iraq began, transforming Operation Desert Shield into Operation Desert Storm. Of the 400,000 Americans participating in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 92,990 were Marines, making it the largest number of Marines ever to participate in a single operation. The war began after Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded the small neighboring country of Kuwait and threatened to invade Saudi Arabia.
18 January - LtCol Odin “Fred” Leberman, commanding officer of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204, home of the V-22 Osprey, was relieved of duty after allegations that he ordered subordinates to falsify aircraft maintenance records. An anonymous letter making the allegations was sent to the Marine Corps along with an audiotape on which, reportedly, Leberman is heard telling his Marines that the V-22 Osprey program was in jeopardy and they must lie to preserve it. In December, four Marines from Leberman’s unit were killed in a V-22 crash and earlier in the year, nineteen Marines were killed when the V-22 they were aboard crashed in Arizona. These mishaps created concern with regards to the safety of this unique, newly developed aircraft, which takes off and lands like a helicopter, but tilts its rotors forward to fly like an airplane.
19 January - MajGen James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.), a Medal of Honor recipient, was honored with a room dedication at O’Bannon Hall, The Basic School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Livingston earned his Medal of Honor during fighting in Dai Do, Vietnam, on 2 May 1968.
19 January - The Secretary of the Navy approved “the awarding of the Prisoner of War Medal to eligible members of the Marine Security Guard Detachment, United States Embassy, Teheran, Iran, for the period 4 November 1979 through 20 January 1981.” On 4 November 1979, sixty-five Americans were taken hostage, including thirteen Marines. While four of the Marines were released two weeks later, the remaining nine were not released until the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan on 20 January 1981, suffering 444 days in captivity.
20 January - The Marine Corps participated in the inauguration of the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush. Marine Corps representatives who participated in the inauguration included the United States Marine Corps Color Guard, officers representing the Marine Corps staff, and a group of Marine reservists. The Marine Band, known as “The President’s Own,” was also on hand as they have been for every Presidential inauguration since President
Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural in 1801.
22 January - The nearly month-long Hawaii Combined Arms Operation 2-01 “Kona Winds” kicked off in the Pohakuloa Training Area in Hawaii, with over 2,000
Marine participants. During HCAO, the Marines honed weapons skills and tested combat readiness, as well as helped the community by clearing an elementary school yard for the placement of a playground, and assisting the Federal Fire Department to tame a brush fire.
30 January - The remains of a Marine Raider killed during the World War II assault on the Japanese logistics base of Makin Atoll were returned to his home in Tulare, California, for burial after almost sixty years. The Marine Raiders who survived the assault were unable to transport their dead and were forced to pay an islander to bury Cpl I.B. Eyres and the other eighteen Raiders who were killed. The remains were recovered in 1999 by a team from the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii.
31 January - The 1st Marine Division celebrated its 60th anniversary with a gathering of both veterans and active Marines who have ties to the unit. Activated in 1941, the oldest and most decorated division has been involved in many significant campaigns in Marine Corps history, from Guadalcanal during World War II to Operation Restore Hope, the 1992-3 peacekeeping mission in Somalia.
__February - Sailors can now earn the Fleet Marine Force Warfare Device, recently approved by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The corpsman, religious program specialists, dental technicians, and select members of the aviation community who are eligible for the new device must serve with Marines in a type 2 (with Marines) or type 4 (overseas with Marines) capacity. Furthermore, each sailor is required to complete training in Marine battle skills and Navy and Marine Corps history, customs, and courtesies and meet unit-specific standards.
3 February - A TAV-8B Harrier II trainer crashed at MCAS Cherry Point during a conventional runway landing attempt, killing both Marines on board (Maj Todd S. Denson and Capt Jason K. Meiners) and raising more concerns about the Harrier, which has been plagued by mechanical problems and crashes over the past few years. The HQMC Aviation Division ordered all Harriers to stand down pending an investigation into the crash.
12 February - The numbers were released and by all counts the 53rd annual U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign (held during the Christmas season of 2000) was the most successful in history setting new records for number of toys distributed (15,800,000) and number of children reached (6,300,000). Toys for Tots is one of the premier charitable endeavors sponsored by the Department of Defense, and the only one that reaches beyond the military community.
14 February - President George Bush concluded his three-day tour of east coast military installations as Commander-in-Chief. Bush gained military support during his campaign with the promise of “a billion dollars in salary increases.” This week he outlined the logistics of this campaign promise stating that $1.4 billion would go toward pay raises and incentives and an additional $4.3 billion would go to improving military housing and health care.
24 February - The guided-missile destroyer Shoup (DDG-86) was christened by Lt Col Catherine Chase, granddaughter of the vessel’s namesake. Gen David M. Shoup was a World War II Medal of Honor recipient and served as the 22nd Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1960 to 1963. The Shoup will be commissioned in 2002.
28 February - Following last years amendment of Combat Action Ribbon qualifications, approximately 1,200 Marines who served as a peacekeeping force in Kosovo following the air war in 1999 were the first to rate and receive the ribbon in its amended state. Formerly, award of the Combat Action Ribbon was reserved for troops who fell under hostile fire and returned fire. Rules of engagement during peacekeeping missions dissuade troops from returning fire as
readily as they would on combat missions. In recognition of the danger faced by those who serve in peacekeeping missions, the ribbon criteria were relaxed.
20 March - General James L. Jones, Commandant of the Marine Corps, handed out tan utility belts to the first company of Marine lieutenants coming out of
The Basic School to complete martial arts training. The Marine Corps martial arts program has five belts, tan delineating the first level of training (26 hours of fundamentals). General Jones aims to have every Marine receive some level of training in martial arts by mid-2002.
26 March-6 April - 15,000 United States Marines, sailors, and soldiers joined Allied troops in Camp Pendleton, California, for Exercise Kernal Blitz. This year the biennial amphibious assault exercise focused on regional warfare and was limited to current capabilities. One highlight of the training was mine hunting and clearing.
30 March - The Marine Barracks, located at “8th and I” in Washington, D.C. commenced the celebration of its bicentennial year with a ceremony attended by General James L. Jones, Commandant of the Marine Corps and other general officers, and former barracks Marines. Founded in 1801, the location of the “oldest post of the Corps” was decided upon by President Thomas Jefferson and LtCol William Ward Burrows, Commandant of the Marine Corps, based on its proximity to the Capitol and Navy Yard. The 200th Anniversary celebration will continue through the year, concluding with the final Evening Parade of the summer on 31 August.
__April - Two hundred Marines from Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, South Carolina, VMFA(AW)-533 were sent to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, to train to
become the first Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) F/A-18 Hornet squadron. Technology has made fixed-wing aircraft a valuable MEU(SOC) tool. The Hornets on-board electronic and visual sensors, combined with its high flying altitude allows it to provide real-time detailed aerial photographs to use in conjunction with on the ground situation reports. The Hornet is also able to communicate troop movements, as seen from above.
2-6 April - The 7th Marines conducted a mock emergency deployment during Strategic Mobility Exercise 2001. While seemingly mundane, there are a myriad of responsibilities a Marine must attend to upon notification of emergency deployment, which in some cases must be taken care of within forty-eight hours. The duties range from professional to personal: packing unit and personal equipment and gear, updating medical and dental records, writing last wills and testaments, packing up household belongings, storing personal vehicles, setting up a plan to deal with household expenses and mail delivery. This type of exercise not only tests the deploying units readiness, but also the readiness of the entire base’s support system, from personnel and administrative to legal and medical.
9-11 April - The 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and Boxer Amphibious Ready Group provided civic and humanitarian aid to the fledgling country of East Timor, an island nation besieged by civil strife and violence since declaring independence from Indonesia two years prior. The Marines and sailors provided medical and dental care, transported supplies and resources, and helped in construction projects.
26 April-10 May - United States Marines joined forces from the Republic of the Philippines for the 17th annual joint-service exercise Balikatan 2001. This exercise, staged in the Philippines, not only allows Marines to cross-train in tactical maneuvers and amphibious assaults, but also to provide humanitarian assistance to towns lacking adequate medical and dental care.
27 April - The Navy awarded the Landing Craft, Air Cushioned (LCAC) service life extension program (SLEP) contract to Textron Marine and Land Systems. SLEP, at a cost of $35 million, includes main engine upgrades, installation of a new skirt system, hull and fuel modifications, and the installation of an enhanced communication/navigation suite, and affects the first two productions of the LCAC that are currently serving the fleet.
4 May - The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab, MCB Quantico, Virginia, conducted a computer simulated urban combat operation testing new high-tech equipment being evaluated by the lab’s Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) project. Replying to Marines’ need for better intelligence in urban combat situations, the new equipment being tested included a small, portable unmanned aerial surveillance vehicle, a global positioning system wristwatch, lighter, more versatile vision equipment, and unattended ground sensors. The first phase of the RSTA project, which ends in July 2002, is expected to culminate in a battalion’s receipt of the equipment.
15-29 May - United States troops, including 2,000 Marines, joined forces with troops from Thailand and Singapore to participate in the annual Cobra Gold exercise. Cobra Gold, located in Thailand, includes drills in joint land, air, and naval operations, and amphibious and special operations.
18 May - Marine Sgt Mitchell Pray, along with the rest of the 23-member crew of the Navy surveillance plane downed in China on 1 April, was awarded the Air Medal for heroism. The crew also met with President Bush who thanked them for their service and for maintaining “class and dignity” during their eleven days of captivity in China.
18 May - President George Bush visited Marine Barracks, Washington, also known as 8th and I based on the intersection where the Barracks is located. The ceremonial units stationed there were on hand to greet the President, as was Corporal Chesty XI, the bulldog mascot of the Marine Corps.
20-25 May - Marine Corps Commandant General James L. Jones and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Alford McMichael held the second annual NCO Symposium. The weeklong Symposium brought thirty-six corporals and sergeants together at Marine Corps headquarters and culminated in the meeting with the Commandant and Sergeant Major. The primary issue raised and discussed was the waning attention paid to the maintenance of basic marksmanship skills.
22 May - HR 1696, a bill expediting the construction of a World War II memorial on the National Mall, passed through Congress and was expected to be signed into law by President Bush. This bill, which technically bars judicial review of the memorial’s planned design or site, comes in the wake of controversy surrounding the memorial’s planned location in the open vista between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
24 May - Gordon R. England was sworn-in, becoming the 72nd Secretary of the Navy. England, nominated by President George Bush, served as vice-president of General Dynamics since 1997, and brings with him over thirty years of experience in the defense and technology industries. As Secretary of the Navy, England plans to “substantially improve our combat capability, enrich the lives of our people, swiftly incorporate technology across our total operation, and dramatically improve our business practices.”
29 May - President George Bush visited Camp Pendleton, California, making him the first sitting president to do so since Richard Nixon in 1971. Following a tour of the Marine Corps base, President Bush spoke to a captive audience, praising the successful base-wide energy conservation effort and calling the Marines deserving of “better housing, pay, and health.”
30 May - Commandant of the Marine Corps General James L. Jones approved the Installations 2020 plan, which deals with the long-range future of Marine Corps bases and training ranges. The vision, while not specifically discussing implementation, focuses on five key areas of concern: strategic base locations, training ranges and maneuver space, encroachment, base management, and quality of service. Navy Capt Thomas Calhoun, project manager for the Installations 2020 plan, compares the plan to the “big picture,” while future logisticians and installation commanders will map a fitting implementation course.
5 June - General James L. Jones named Capt Jason L. Morris, commander of Bravo Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/5, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, winner of the Leftwich Trophy for Outstanding Leadership for 2000. The award is in honor of Lt Col William G. Leftwich, who was killed in Vietnam in November of 1970, and is awarded annually to a captain in a ground combat unit who exemplifies leadership, esprit de corps, and “through personal example, sets the standards that all other officers seek to emulate.”
6 June - A new Marine Corps uniform was given final approval by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The new cammies, aside from being wash-and-wear, will feature a unique computer generated pixel camouflage design. The boots will be rough-texture leather that will not require shining. The new uniform, unique to the Marine Corps, was designed to be more practical and could be distributed to some Marines as early as December.
14 June - While on tour in Europe, President George Bush announced that the Navy would be pulling out of Vieques, a Puerto Rican island which serves as the Atlantic Fleet’s prime warfare training range. This decision comes in light of the intense Puerto Rican opposition to the military’s presence on Vieques. With a departure deadline of May 2003, the Center for Naval Analyses compiled a report that cites ranges in North Carolina and Florida as being jointly capable of replacing the valuable Vieques training ground.
18-28 June - 7,000 Marines and sailors participated in Kernal Blitz experimentation exercises at Camp Pendleton. The focus of the exercises, which became the largest experimentation and demonstration exercise ever, was to test computers and wireless equipment that may be made available as early as 2007.
27 June - General Dynamics and the Marine Corps came to a $712 million agreement for the manufacturing and testing of the new Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicle (AAAV). General Dynamics will produce ten AAAVs for testing to be followed up in 2004 by the initial low-scale production of 100 more. Upon completion of the evaluation process on these 110 AAAVs, full-scale production will begin in 2007.
29 June - Five legendary Marine athletes were the first to be inducted into the new Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in a ceremony held at the Marine Barracks Washington. The inductees were Capt Gene Tunney, boxing legend famous for defeating Jack Dempsey in 1927 for the world heavyweight title; Col Frank Goettge, a Marine football player killed on Guadalcanal during World War II; Capt Ted Williams, Boston Red Sox right-fielder and World War II and
Korean War fighter pilot; Cpl Lee Trevino, an outstanding golfer still competing on the Senior PGA Tour; and Capt Billy Mills, Olympic gold medallist in the 10,000 meter run.
30 June - The amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima was commissioned by the Navy in Pensacola, Florida, during a ceremony which included a keynote address by Gen Michael Williams, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. Zandra Krulak, wife of former Commandant General Charles Krulak and sponsor of the LHD-7, officially named the ship by breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow. The Iwo Jima will serve as a multipurpose transport ship and is capable of serving as the command ship for any amphibious operation. The ship can support 3,200 crew members and troops and boasts a 600-bed hospital featuring several operating rooms.
6 July - An enhanced Marine Prepositioning Force ship was christened to honor GySgt Fred W. Stockham, a World War I hero who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life at the Battle of Belleau Wood. The Stockham will join the Military Sealift Command’s Maritime Prepositioning Force fleet, which is stationed at the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
9 July - A CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed near MCAS New River, North Carolina, killing three Marines and injuring two. The Marines, members of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365, were practicing nighttime landings on a simulated ship deck positioned on the banks of the New River when the crash occurred approximately 500 yards short of the landing. An aircraft mishap board will investigate the crash to determine the cause.
12 July - The Veterans Affairs Committee, a benefits subcommittee of the House, passed legislation that would make Gulf War veterans suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or chronic multisymptom illness eligible for monthly disability payments. While the diseases, in their vagueness, are still difficult to diagnose and the new bill does not change prohibitive existing law, the bill is expected to affect approximately 3,000 veterans whose claims were previously denied by Veterans Affairs.
13 July - 1st Lt Vernice Armour earned her wings, becoming the Marine Corps’ first African-American female aviator.
21 July - The late Marine Corps MajGen Marion E. Carl was among four aviators inducted in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, located in Dayton, Ohio. Gen Carl became the first Marine flying ace of World War II, achieving thirteen total kills at Midway and Guadalcanal. Other aviation accomplishments Gen Carl is noted for include setting the world’s airspeed record in 1947, becoming the first Marine helicopter pilot, and becoming the first to land a jet onto an aircraft carrier. Gen Carl was killed in June 1998 during an attack at his home.
24 July - Sculptor Felix W. de Weldon was named Honorary Marine, by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen James Jones. de Weldon, 94, is the sculptor of the famous U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, which he was inspired to sculpt after he, while serving at Patuxent Naval Air Station, Maryland, as a Navy Seabee, saw the famous World War II photograph of the second flag-raising on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima. The 78-foot-tall memorial de Weldon was commissioned to create was nine years in the making and came at a cost of $850,000. President Dwight D. Eisenhower dedicated it on 10 November 1954.
27 July - President George Bush awarded the twenty-nine original Navajo “code talkers” of World War II Congressional Gold Medals. Four of the five living encoders attended the ceremony, held at the U.S. Capitol. The unique code, based on the Navajo language, was never deciphered by the Japanese and because of its success, remained classified until 1968. Between 1942 and 1945, the “code talkers” were involved in every Marine assault in the Pacific and thirteen were killed in action.
__ August - The House Armed Services subcommittee on military installations suggested an alternative site for the planned Air Force Memorial in an effort to ease tensions between the Air Force and the Marine Corps over the existing planned memorials location. Currently planned for the same site as the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Marines fear encroachment and competing ceremonies, which often take place at the Memorial. The new suggested site, still considered a prime location along a commuter and tourist route, is located on the opposite side of Arlington National Cemetery, near the Navy Annex.
13 August - On a mission to assist the United Nations in enforcing an oil embargo and other sanctions on Iraq, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit comprised of approximately 2,200 Marines deployed from San Diego, California. The six-month deployment will take the Marines to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Persian Gulf.
10 August - Eight Marine Corps officers, including the commanding general of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing MajGen Dennis T. Krupp, were charged in connection with the falsification of the maintenance records for the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. Commander of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 at MCAS New River, Col Odin “Fred” Leberman, was relieved of duty in January, immediately following the allegations. Col Leberman is also one of the eight charged with offenses that include dereliction of duty, making false official statements, and conduct unbecoming an officer.
17 August - Fifty-nine years ago, thirty of “Carlson’s Raiders,” men of the 2d Raider Battalion, died during the famous World War II raid on Makin Atoll. On this fifty-ninth anniversary, the remains of thirteen Raiders were buried at Arlington National Cemetery in a ceremony that drew over 1,000 surviving friends, family members, and Raiders, and other Marines and war veterans who came to honor the dead. The Raiders were buried with full military honors, including a moving 21-gun salute. The bodies of nineteen of the Raiders remained missing until 1999, when the location of where the island natives had buried them was discovered. Upon identification by the Army’s Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii, the men returned home for proper burial. Six of the families opted for a private burial.
20 August - Citing the need to balance the interests of its citizens with those of the local military, the Board of Commissioners of Onslow County, North Carolina, passed a resolution asking that Camp Lejeune be removed from the list of possible replacement sites for the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, which currently serves as the United States military’s major live-fire exercise site. In June, President George Bush bowed to strong Puerto Rican opposition to the military presence on Vieques and announced that the military would withdraw by 2003. Currently, domestic locations, specifically on the lower east coast, are being considered as alternatives.
22 August - Capt Jacob Wiebe, 32, a Marine pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 in MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, was killed when his F/A-18A Hornet jet crashed on the Barry Goldwater Training Range near Yuma, Arizona. Capt Wiebe was participating in low-altitude air combat training when the crash, which is under investigation, occurred.
24 August - President George Bush nominated Marine Gen Peter Pace to succeed Air Force Gen Richard Myers as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Currently serving as the chief of the U.S. Southern Command, overseeing U.S. military interests in Central and South America, Gen Pace will be the first Marine to serve as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is slated to take over as vice chairman of the JCS on 1 October.
24 August - Commandant of the Marine Corps General James L. Jones announced a new approach to Marine Corps training abroad, which he has dubbed “lily-padding.” Concerned that the U.S. military may have overstayed its welcome in some parts of the globe, Gen Jones suggests a technique in which Marines travel to more countries, staying for a shorter period of time. For the military, “lily-padding” would create a wider variety of training situations, reduce
the need for permanent overseas bases, and serve as an opportunity to foster new or better relationships with nations.
31 August - Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England formally added the Kosovo Campaign Streamer to the official Battle Colors of the Marine Corps in a ceremony during the summers final Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks, Washington. Former President Bill Clinton approved the Kosovo Campaign Medal and streamer in recognition of the role U.S. troops played in the Balkans against the oppressive Yugoslavian government, headed by then-President Slobodan Milosevic. In 1999, Marines participated in the air campaign against Yugoslavia, and have since been an element of the peacekeeping forces in Kosovo.
6 September - Arriving eight months late, the Marine Corps first production KC-130J aerial refueler airplane arrived at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. The aircraft, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, went through months of redesign and development to solve problems with the refueler component, stalling delivery. The Marines at Cherry Point are expecting the remaining six to be delivered through October.
11 September - At 9:38a.m. a commercial airliner, piloted by terrorists, slammed into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Department of Defense, located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The Marines Corps was fortunate in that no Marines were killed or seriously injured in this attack. The weekend before, most of the Department of Marine Aviation, located directly above the site of impact, had been relocated to another area of the Pentagon, during building renovation. Immediately following the attack, Marines set up a “command center” under an overpass of Interstate 395, which runs beside the Pentagon. Working alongside fellow servicemen and civilians for hours, days, and weeks after the tragedy, Marines played a large role in the rescue and recovery effort. Including those aboard the hijacked Boeing 757, 189 men, women, and children were killed in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
12 September - For the first time ever, Marine aviators made combat air patrols in the skies over the Unites States. Washington, D.C. was guarded by F/A-
18 Hornets flown by pilots from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 321 based out of Andrews Air Force Base in southern Maryland. The Marine pilots flew the
patrols to give a days respite to the Washington Air National Guard, which had flown the patrols on 11 September, and resumed command of the mission on
13 September - Two of the eight officers originally facing charges related to falsification of MV-22 Osprey maintenance records received punitive letters of reprimand, while the charges against the remaining Marines, including the commanding general of the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing, MajGen Dennis T. Krupp, were dismissed following a series of Article 15 hearings. The Marines punished were Lt Col Odin “Fred” Leberman, former commander of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 at MCAS New River, North Carolina, and Capt Christopher Ramsey, the assistant aviation maintenance officer under Col Leberman. The Osprey scandal broke in January when an audio tape, allegedly capturing Col Leberman’s voice asking his Marines to “lie” about the Osprey’s readiness rates, was anonymously submitted to then-Navy Secretary Richard Danzig.
15-17 September - The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and Amphibious Squadron-1 spent three days in East Timor, providing humanitarian assistance. The Marines provided medical and dental care and supplies, food and clothing, and construction materials. In addition, they assisted with agricultural and building programs by moving pipes, food, and equipment to outlying areas. The East Timorese voted for a transition to independence from Indonesia in August of 1999, suffering the wrath of pro-integration militias that carried out many terrorist attacks in retaliation. Marines have deployed to East Timor since September of 1999 including participation in the multi-national peace-keeping mission, Operation STABILISE.
20 September – Prince William County, Virginia, donated 135 acres of land to the Marine Corps in an official ceremony, which also celebrated the lands planned use as the site of the Marine Corps Heritage Center. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James L. Jones, who officially signed the necessary land transfer paperwork, was present, as were many county and Marine Corps officials. The Heritage Center, slated to open on the Marine Corps’ 230th birthday (November 10, 2005), will ultimately house exhibits, a gift shop, a restaurant, classrooms, offices, a research library, archives, an Artifact Restoration/Preservation Facility, and a conference center.
28 September - The Marine Corps released its proposal to set up a brigade-size antiterrorism unit that would, because of its size, be more effective against overseas or domestic terrorist threats. Since the terrorist attacks of 11 September, the U.S. military faces restructuring in preparation for a unique war against unconventional enemies. The proposed unit would be made up of an existing infantry battalion, reinforced by members of the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, the Marine Security Guard Battalion, and the Chemical/Biological Incident Response Force, each bringing a measure of expertise. Once trained and equipped, claimed a Marine official, the brigade could deploy in seventy-two hours.
1 October - The military police (MP) companies from 2d Marine Division, 2d Force Service Support Group (FSSG), and 2d Marine Air Wing will combine to form the most recent activation of a battalion-size MP unit. Previously serving in World War II and Vietnam, MP battalions are an asset to a Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF), performing battlefield duties that include law and order, maneuver and mobility support operations, area security, and internment operations. The 2d Military Police Battalion, 2d FSSG, will be based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and will support parts of the II Marine Expeditionary Brigade and area Marine Corps Provost Marshall’s Offices.
5 October - Michael J. Mansfield, an influential politician and former Marine, died of congestive heart failure. Mansfield, who served as an enlisted Marine from 1920 to 1922, was an outspoken defender of the Marine Corps while serving thirty-four years in the U.S. Congress. In 1951, he and Senator Paul Douglas introduced the Douglas-Mansfield Bill, which remains today the legal foundation for the present Marine Corps. Following his career in the Senate, Mansfield served eleven years as the ambassador to Japan, retiring in 1988.
8 October - Exercise Bright Star 01/02 kicked off in Egypt with more than 70,000 U.S. and allied troops involved in the desert training, which included live-fire exercises, capabilities demonstrations, and force-on-force war games. The attacks on 11 September strengthened the resolve and sense of purpose among the service members participating in Bright Star. While forming meaningful bonds with allied counterparts, Marines also issued a warning to those who stand in opposition to the United States—a sign posted at one of the secure entrances to the camp read “United States Marines: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy.”
10 October - The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) was deployed in Pakistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While U.S. Central Command would not comment on the MEU’s specific role, it is trained to carry out a myriad of warfare missions and may have aboard a platoon of force reconnaissance Marines, which often work in tandem with the elite Navy SEALs.
18 October - The pilots of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 became the first Marines known to be engaged in combat in Afghanistan, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. The Marines, piloting Hornets, took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, and flew several bombing missions, including the destruction of a bridge in northern Afghanistan. The Theodore Roosevelt, carrying approximately 195 Marines, was leading one of the
four Navy battle groups in the region.
20 October - Two CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operation Capable) were sent on a tactical recovery of
aircraft and personnel (TRAP) to salvage the wreckage of a U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk that had crashed in Pakistan during a raid on a Taliban compound the night before, killing two Army Rangers. The Black Hawk was abandoned on the return trip when, while refueling, the Stallions came under enemy fire. The Marines returned to the refueling site and recovered the Black Hawk on 24 October. Deployed from Camp Pendleton, California, since August, The 15th MEU (SOC) has been in the Arabian Sea and surrounding areas since September, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
20 October - The latest destroyer in the Arleigh-Burke class, the Howard, was commissioned in Galveston, Texas. The ship, named in honor of Marine Corps Gy Sgt Jimmie E. Howard (1929-1993), will be tasked with conducting sustained combat operations at sea and is equipped with the latest in radar technology. The ship’s namesake was awarded the Medal of Honor for the leadership exemplified while engaged in a battle with the Viet Cong, in June of 1966, during the Vietnam War.
24 October - The Marine Corps’ Chemical/Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF), in support of Operation Noble Eagle, conducted testing in buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. So far, twenty-nine cases of inhalation anthrax have been confirmed and are thought to be the result of anthrax-laden mail sent to addressees in the Metro area, most notably to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. The CBIRF was created in 1995 after the sarin gas attack in Tokyo and is trained to respond to chemical and biological emergencies, detect the presence of a chemical or biological agent, and decontaminate affected areas. The unit spent two weeks in Washington, D.C. inspecting various buildings.
25 October - The Department of Defense awarded the $200 billion Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) engineering/manufacturing development contract to Lockheed Martin and its X-35 JSF demonstrator. The Marine Corps alone plans to purchase over 600 B-model short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variants, which are expected to be operational by 2008.
28 October - 15,011 runners came to the nation’s capital to participate in the 26th annual Marine Corps Marathon. The 26.2-mile race looped through parts of northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. and runners passed landmarks such as the Pentagon, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Capitol. Retired Marine GySgt Farley Simon, who won the race in 1983 becoming the first and only Marine ever to do so, took the title home again this year with the winning time of 2:28:28. The 2001 Marine Corps Marathon was dedicated to the victims of the 11 September attacks.
29 October - The 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-terrorism) was reactivated after nearly ten years. Operating out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the unit, built around an existing infantry battalion, will combine elements of the Marine Security Guard Battalion, Marine Security Forces Battalion, and Chemical/Biological Incidence Response Force (CBIRF). A Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) will also be formed to strengthen the 4th MEB (AT). Quickly responding to the need for such a force in the wake of the 11 September attacks, the Marine Corps formally announced plans to create an anti-
terrorism brigade 4 October.
3 November - The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), aboard the USS Peleliu, flew its first bombing missions as part of Operation
Enduring Freedom. Harrier pilots with the 15th MEU (SOC) dropped 500-pound MK-82 bombs on Taliban and al-Qaida targets located in southern Afghanistan. The 15th MEU (SOC) has been operating from the Arabian Sea since late September.
6 November - Marines with Company B, 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, the first reserve unit mobilized as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, left for Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. The reservists were called upon to relieve two Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons. While in Cuba, the reserve unit will provide security for the base and conduct training operations to hone specialized security skills. The FAST platoons, elite quick-response units, returned to their home base in Norfolk, Virginia, so that they could be deployable.
6 November - A team of independent researchers and engineers, led by NASA’s Ames Research Center in California, released the report based on a study of the V-22 Osprey, the tiltrotor aircraft which has been troubled by scandal and crashes, raising questions concerning its safety. The group concluded that “there are no known aeromechanics phenomena that would stop the safe and orderly development and deployment of the V-22.” The Osprey has been grounded for nearly a year.
10 November - Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the crowd at the 226th Marine Corps birthday celebration in Washington, D.C. He offered encouraging words and praise for the Marines saying, “We will prevail because of men and women like you.” Since the war on terrorism began, the Vice President has spent much of his time at an undisclosed location to preserve the line of presidential succession.
13 November - The 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division arrived in northern mainland Japan to participate in Forest Light 2001, a semiannual cold
weather training exercise conducted in conjunction with soldiers from the 10th Infantry Regiment, 11th Division, Japanese Ground Self Defense Force. The exercise, during which the temperature dropped as low as twenty degrees Fahrenheit, has mainly served as a demonstration of weapons capabilities.
20 November - For the first time since the Gulf War, the Marine Corps initiated a limited stop-loss order, which will keep approximately 560 Marines on active-duty for an additional six-months. The order is in place so that the Marine Corps can fully man the reactivated 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-terrorism) and only affects those serving as an infantry officer, rifleman, infantry unit leader, or nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist, who have an end-of-active-service date in or after January.
22-24 November - The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), aboard the Bataan amphibious ready group (ARG) arrived in the Arabian Sea after receiving orders to deploy from the Mediterranean Sea. The Bataan ARG joins the Peleliu ARG (with the 15th MEU on board) and brings the total number of Marines on standby in the area to more than 4,000. The 26th MEU deployed in late September, relieving the 24th MEU.
24 November - About 250 World War II Navajo Code Talkers were recognized for the vital role they played in defeating the Japanese in the Pacific campaigns and were awarded the Congressional Silver Medal. The medal, in commemoration of the Navajo code, which remained classified until 1968, depicts two Marine Navajo Code Talkers communicating a message by radio and also bears the Code Talkers emblem alongside the Marine Corps emblem. The original 29 Code Talkers were awarded Congressional Gold Medals earlier this year.
25 November - The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Afghanistan, becoming the first team of U.S. ground troops in the region. Encountering no resistance, the MEU began to set up a fortified base, “Camp Rhino,” at the airport just south of Kandahar, the last political and military stronghold of the Taliban regime. The mission, codenamed “Swift Freedom”, is to seal off the city of Kandahar, cutting off incoming supplies and escape routes. Within a day of securing the abandoned airstrip, Marine Cobra helicopters supported Navy F-14s in an attack in an armored convoy of fifteen enemy transport vehicles near the base.
28 November - The body of the first American killed in action inside Afghanistan since the bombing campaign began was recovered from a prison compound. Former Marine Mike Spann, 32, of McLean, Virginia, was a paramilitary trooper with the Central Intelligence Agency and was tasked with interrogating the Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners held at the compound. The prisoners rioted on Sunday, taking over the compound until quelled by northern alliance fighters and U.S. airstrikes.
28 November - A statue honoring LtGen John Archer Lejeune, the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1920 to 1929, was dedicated at MCB Quantico, Virginia. The statue is one of six that will be dedicated to the famous Marine, including one that will go to the Marine Corps Base named for the general, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
1 December - The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, departed Camp Pendleton, California, bound for the Arabian Sea. The approximately 2,200 Marines of the 13th MEU (SOC) are headed to join or relieve the 15th MEU, currently on the ground in Afghanistan.
4 December - Elements of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) landed in Afghanistan to reinforce the 15th MEU at Camp Rhino located south of Kandahar. Marines from the 26th MEU’s Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAAT) and Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) bring with them valuable weaponry and combat vehicles.
7 December - Marines from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), carrying out Operation Swift Freedom, were involved in combat while blocking the roads leading away from the Taliban-controlled city of Kandahar. A firefight erupted when the first vehicle of a seven-vehicle convoy attempted to run the roadblock, was restrained by concertina wire, and the passengers fired upon the Marines who approached the vehicle. The rest of the convoy headed in another direction and air support was called in to destroy the targets. The Marines suffered no casualties, while enemy casualty estimates varied between fifty and 150.
10 December - CIA agent Mike Spann, the first American killed in action in Afghanistan, was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Spann served as an artillery captain in the Marine Corps until two years ago, when he decided to join the CIA’s Special Activities Division, where he served as a paramilitary officer. President Bush, at the family’s request, signed a waiver to allow Spann interment at Arlington National Cemetery. Spann was buried with full military honors, carried out by Marines from the Marine Barracks, Washington.
12 December - Under a bill introduced into the House, military tribunals for accused terrorists would be overseen by Congress and steps would be taken to safeguard the defendants’ rights. The bill places some restraints on the executive order signed by President Bush last month, which authorized military tribunals. The issue of military tribunals as a means of trying suspected terrorists has been hotly debated in legal, political, military, and social circles.
13 December - Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, along with bipartisan co-sponsors, submitted a bill that would alter the title of one of the U.S.’s highest military officials. Rep. Jones’ bill calls for the title of “Secretary of the Navy” to be changed to “Secretary of the Navy and Marine Corps.” MCASs Cherry Point and New River, as well as Camp Lejeune, are located in Rep. Jones’ district.
13 December - Elements of the 15th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) arrived in the city of Kandahar, the last Taliban stronghold, and secured the city’s airport. The MEUs traveled for almost two weeks (from Camp Rhino) to reach the city and were greeted by the anti-Taliban forces that had defeated the regime and flushed the Taliban out of the city just days before. Before converting the airport facilities into command centers, the Marines had to clear the area of shrapnel, glass, and explosive hazards. Four days later, a Marine Color Guard at the airport raised an American flag, which had been sent and signed by rescue workers and friends and family of victims of the 11 September terrorist attacks and the attack on the USS Cole.
16 December - A Marine lost his foot and two more were wounded when a previously undetected land mine was detonated. While on patrol at the Kandahar airport, Cpl Chris Chandler stepped on a plastic anti-personnel mine, which had eluded a previous sweep with a metal detector. So far, disposal crews have detonated nine caches of weapons, including rockets, grenades, and guns.
17 December - The United States Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was ceremoniously reopened as Marines raised the same flag that was hastily lowered by Marine Security Guards when the embassy was evacuated on 31 January 1989. In 1979, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs, a former Marine and World War II veteran, was kidnapped and murdered by extremists. While barely operational for the next ten years, it was evacuated in preparation for the
tumult expected to follow the withdrawal of Soviet troops.
17 December - Eleven Marines were among the eighty-five servicemembers and civilians recognized for their efforts immediately following the 11 September attack on the Pentagon. The Marines were all awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and two also received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. Called “heroes” by the Honorable Gordon England, Secretary of the Navy, those honored risked their lives to assist the victims of the attack.
17 December - A detention facility was set up at the Marine Corps base at Kandahar International Airport in Afghanistan to house suspected Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Only able to support 200 detainees, a larger, long-term facility is planned for Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba and should be ready in early 2002.
19 December - Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James L. Jones, accompanied by Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Alford L. McMichael, traveled to Kandahar International Airport to visit his Marines stationed in the area. Braving the cold and possible undetected mines, Gen Jones walked from fighting holes to forward security positions. The Marines were honored and awed, but the feeling was mutual as the Commandant called the Marines’
20 December - The UH-1Y, the Marine Corps’ newest utility helicopter successfully completed its first flight. The UH-1Y is part of a major upgrade program to remanufacture the Marine Corps’ fleet of AH-1W and UH-1N helicopters to an advanced configuration featuring common avionics and dynamic components.
25 December - Cpl Christopher Chandler, the Marine who lost his left foot in a mine explosion at Kandahar airport on 16 December, became the first Marine to be awarded a purple heart during Operation Enduring Freedom. Commandant of the Marine Corps General James L. Jones pinned the medal on Cpl Chandler during an informal ceremony at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. where Chandler is still recovering. The other two Marines injured in the explosion will receive their medals soon, according to the Marine Corps.
USMC History Division