CAMPAIGN CHRONOLOGIES OF THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM: 2001-2008
11 September 2001 – 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 2001 – 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.
28 September 2001 – 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.
10 October 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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.
29 October 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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.
20 November 2001 – 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 2001 – 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.
25 November 2001 – 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 2001 – 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.
1 December 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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 2001 – 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’ accomplishments “impressive.”
25 December 2001 – 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.
1 January 2002 – For the first time since 1989, the American flag was ceremoniously raised along side the Afghanistan national flag as a display of strengthened U.S. and Afghan relations. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) participated in the ceremony outside of the recently secured Kandahar International Airport.
9 January 2002 – All seven Marine crewmen were killed when their Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar-based KC-130R crashed near a forward operating base at Shamsi, Pakistan. Enemy ground fire was not suspected in the crash. The Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR-352) Marines were the first to die in the war on terrorism.
10 January 2002 – Marines from the 26th MEU (Special Operations Capable) (SOC), along with other U.S. and coalition forces, took defensive positions and returned fire at the Kandahar International Airport after shots were fired near the northern perimeter. The gunfire erupted shortly after a C-17 transport plane carrying 20 detainees en route to Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo Naval Base, Cuba, departed.
11 January 2002 – The first 20 detainees from Afghanistan arrived at Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo Naval Base. Marines from 1st Battalion, 2d Marines provided security along the route to Camp X-Ray to prevent an escape attempt by the prisoners while also providing for the safety of the detainees.
18 January 2002 – Marines relinquished control of the largest U.S. base in Afghanistan to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division located at the Kandahar International Airport. Approximately 2000 Marines took control of the airport a month ago, moving up from a base they had established about 70 miles southwest of the city.
20 January 2002 – The crash of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361 killed two and wounded five others. The Super Stallion, carrying the San Diego-based Marines that were part of the squadron known as the “Flying Tigers,” went down in the rugged mountains near Kabul while on a resupply mission. A mechanical failure was listed as the cause and had prompted officials to consider changes to the aircraft and to flight and maintenance procedures.
28 January 2002 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld visited Camp X-Ray and members of Joint Task Force –160 to ease criticism from European allies and human rights groups over treatment and legal status of detainees. He stated that the detainees were considered to be unlawful combatants who were terrorists rather than members of a uniformed army; hence they would not be deemed POW’s according to the Geneva Convention of 1949.
8 February 2002 – The 26th MEU (SOC) completed their back load onto the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) after completing a historic mission. The 26th MEU (SOC) far extended the perceived operational reach of a deployed amphibious force by conducting combat operations deep into northern Afghanistan. Traditionally, the unit specializes in regions within 200 miles of the world’s coastlines but found themselves successfully operating at distances of 750 miles from the U.S. Navy shipping in the North Arabian Sea during Operation Enduring Freedom.
11 February 2002 – After being deployed for six months, Marines of VMGR-352 “Raiders” were the first to return from Afghanistan to MCAS, Miramar, California. The unit had departed Miramar on 27 September—only 16 days after the 11 September attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
14 February 2002 – The first members of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 arrived at MCAS New River, North Carolina, with nine of its helicopters and the rest of the squadron’s 170 personnel expected to arrive 20 February to begin pre-deployment training with the 24th MEU. This was the first time the reserves would help ease the increased demand for heavy-lift helos in Operation Enduring Freedom. It was also unique for reservists to make up an entire component of a MEU’s composite helicopter squadron. To date approximately 4,255 Marine reservists have been activated for Operation Enduring Freedom.
3 March 2002 – Marines with the 15th MEU (SOC) returned home to Camp Pendleton with the three ships of the USS Peleliu ARG after being deployed for seven months. The 15th MEU (SOC) was the first Marine unit on the ground in Afghanistan and established the forward operating base Camp Rhino after capturing an airfield south of Kandahar, 25 November 2001. The feat was particularly unusual for Marines -- an expeditionary and amphibious force -- since the large operating base lay 400 miles from the coast.
19 March 2002 – Two more reservist platoons from Company B, 1st Battalion, 23d Marines arrived at Guantanamo Naval Base to relieve their company mates who were providing installation security since November 2001. The use of reserve units freed up two active-duty Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons for other missions.
26 March 2002 – The 225 Marines of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251, the “Thunderbolts”, returned to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, to cheering friends and family. The squadron was the first Marine aviation element to launch airstrikes in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. They deployed in late September 2001 and spent 135 days flying 700 combat sorties off the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Arabian Sea with only eight days off.
28 March 2002 – Marines attached to Joint Task Force-160 arrived home after nearly three months of playing the lead role in the detainee operations at Guantanamo Naval Base (Gitmo). The bulk of the detachment of nearly 500 Marines had arrived at Gitmo 6 January with the first of the detainees arriving 11 January. The Marines return home came on the heels of the change of command of Marine BGen Michael R. Lehnert to Army BGen Rick Baccus.
13 April 2002 – About 100 members of the 4th MEB (Anti-Terrorism) returned to Camp Lejeune after helping re-open the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The four-month deployment combined guard duty with construction work. The embassy had not been occupied since 1989 and the building had fallen into a state of disrepair.
15 April 2002 – Six FA-18D Hornets of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA (AW)-121), “Green Hornets,” were the first U.S. aircraft to arrive at the coalition air base in Kyrgyzstan, a region that was once part of the Soviet Union. VMFA (AW)-121 participated in missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
1 May 2002 – The Department of Defense announced that service members on active duty on or after 11 September 2001, were eligible to receive the National Defense Service Medal. The medal would also be awarded to members of the reserve components ordered to federal active duty, regardless of duration, except for certain categories. President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Defense Service Medal 22 April 1953. It had subsequently been awarded for honorable active service for any period between 27 June 1950 and 27 July 1954, the period between 1 January 1961 and 14 August 1974, and between 2 August 1990 and 30 November 1995.
15 June 2002 – The 11th MEU departed from Camp Pendleton as part of the Belleau Wood ARG for the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf area as the 13th MEU returned as part of the Bonhomme Richard ARG from the same area two days later. The 11th MEU was the third Pendleton-based MEU to deploy since the war on terrorism began with Marines from the first two seeing combat in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
20 June 2002 – The seven member crew of the ill-fated KC-130 Hercules that crashed 9 January in Pakistan was faulted in the crash that took their lives according to the investigation report released. The report stated that the crew stopped navigating by instruments and flew too far away from the field at too low of an altitude. None of the crew was found to be negligent or guilty of misconduct.
5 July 2002 – AV-8B Harrier pilots assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 flew their first combat mission over Afghanistan as part of the 22d MEU. The pilots conducted a reconnaissance mission, using the new Litening II targeting pods, which was the first combat mission for the new advanced targeting system. The Harriers launched from the amphibious ship USS Wasp.
23 July 2002 – Three Marines were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism. LtCol James G. Kyser IV, Maj Matthew Coon, and SSgt Robert Wallace were recognized for their efforts to help rescue others following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the Pentagon. The three braved smoke and fire in order to find and lead others to safety.
26 July 2002 – The 4th MEB (AT) became the first regular military unit to ever receive the Department of State Group Superior Honor Award for the hard work and dedication of its Marines and sailors during Operation Enduring Freedom. The award recognized Company L, 4th MEB (AT) for outstanding service while stationed at the American Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
15 August 2002 – Twenty-two Marines were the first to move back into the Pentagon’s outer E Ring offices that were demolished by the terrorist attacks of
11 September 2001. The offices of the Counsel to the Commandant of the Marine Corps were rebuilt from the ground up with the construction following the same floor plan as the original 60-year-old design. By the first anniversary, 600 military and civilian personnel are scheduled to be back in their reconstructed offices.
28 August 2002 – For the first time in recent memory, two of the east coast MEUs traded places stateside rather than on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The 24th MEU left Camp Lejeune as the 22d MEU returned. Deployments were thrown slightly off kilter since the war in Afghanistan began but were put back on track with the unusual at home tradeoff.
11 September 2002 – Flags were lowered to half-staff at Marine bases around the world to honor those who fell a year ago in the terrorist attacks at the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Acts of remembrances by Marines included a memorial service at Camp Lejeune, a 25-mile commemorative march by 2d Battalion, 23d Marines at Camp Pendleton, and the burying of a piece of the WTC on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, by members of the 4th MEB (AT) who were serving on guard duty there since its reopening late last fall.
13 September 2002 – The Marine Corps expanded its stop-loss policy to hold onto about 500 Marines needed to guard U.S. bases and stations during the war on terrorism. The new policy allowed commanders to keep any Marine in any military occupation specialty (MOS) they deem necessary and affected those whose end-of-active-service (EAS) date was 15 October or later. The policy allowed commands to keep Marines six months past their EAS.
20 September 2002 – Task Force India, comprised mostly from Company I, 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, returned to Camp Lejeune after spending months providing security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Marines were part of the 4th MEB (AT) Battalion and were relieved by Company L, 3d Battalion, 6th Marines.
2 October 2002 – Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA(AW)-121), the Green Knights, returned to Miramar, California, after a more than five month deployment to Manas, Kyrgyzstan. The Green Knights flew a total of 4,846 hours since 16 April without a single aircraft mishap in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
8 October 2002 – Lance Corporal Antonio L. Sledd was killed and LCpl George R. Simpson was wounded when two Kuwaiti nationals in a pickup truck opened fire at Company L, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, 11th MEU, who were taking a break during the training exercise, Eager Mace. The assailants then drove to another group of Marines and opened fire again. No Marines were injured in the second attack but both Kuwaitis were killed by return fire. The incident occurred on the island of Failaka, 10 miles from the Kuwait mainland, and was labeled as a “terrorist act” by Kuwaiti officials.
28 October 2002 – The 24th MEU sailed through the Suez Canal on the way to the East African nation of Djibouti as the hunt for Al-Qaida moved into the Horn of Africa region. Approximately 700 to 800 Marines were deployed to Djibouti to prepare for any contingency in the region.
___October 2002 – Six AV-8B Harriers from Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA–513), based out of Yuma, Arizona, deployed late in the month to Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. The Harriers deployed in continuing support of operations in Afghanistan but were not part of the 11th MEU(SOC), which also has a detachment from VMA-513 as a part of its aviation combat element.
13 November 2002 – The command element for a Marine-led task force (CJTF-HOA) against terrorism in the Horn of Africa departed for Djibouti. The task force was led by MajGen John Sattler, commander of 2d Marine Division from Camp Lejeune, and had no scheduled return date. The command element linked up with U.S. forces already in the region to help disrupt terrorist cells that traditionally use the region as a transit route.
14 November 2002 – Less than a month after deploying to Afghanistan, an AV-8B Harrier from VMA-513 joined an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt attack jet in engaging enemy forces during a firefight near a U.S. special-operations base near Lwara. The attack was the second of two firefights that occurred overnight.
15 November 2002 – Lieutenant General James T. Conway took command of the I MEF at a ceremony at Camp Pendleton. He relieved LtGen Michael W. Hagee who was slated to become Commandant of the Marine Corps in January. Conway came to I MEF from the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, where he served as deputy commander since August.
21 November 2002 – The headquarters element of the I MEF deployed to the Middle East from Camp Pendleton in preparation for a possible war with Iraq. The headquarters element included several hundred planners and commanders whose job was to prepare for the movement of 1st MEF’s troops, aircraft, supplies and equipment in the region. LtGen James T. Conway, who took command of the 1st MEF only a week before the deployment, was among the departing troops. A small contingent of Marines from the 3d Marine Air Wing and support units from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar also deployed with the headquarters element.
___ December 2002 – Major U.S. exercises were underway in the Persian Gulf as troops massed in the region while the U.N. analyzed Iraqi weapons documents and the possibility of war against Iraq became more likely. Numerous Marine units deployed throughout the month to support any actions taken.
14 December 2002 – The 11th MEU returned to Camp Pendleton as the six-month deployment of the Belleau Wood ARG came to an end. The unit did not see combat as many expected but did suffer the loss of three Marines. Lance Cpl Antonio Sledd was killed in a terrorist attack in Kuwait in which another Marine was also wounded, another Marine was presumed dead after he apparently fell from the flight deck of the USS Belleau Wood on 2 December, and another Marine died from an apparent suicide.
14 December 2002 – Two Texas-based reinforced platoons from 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines returned home after being deployed in March to Guantanamo Bay to provide base security. The use of reservists in such a capacity relieved active-duty Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons, who normally would guard the base, to be used elsewhere in the ongoing war on terrorism.
15 December 2002 – The Marine Corps took over the training of troops from the former Soviet republic of Georgia from the Army Special Forces units after the graduation of the first class. The Marine-led joint training team of about 60 troops picked up the next class that began February 2003. The Georgia Train and Equip Program commenced in May under Special Operations Command, Europe.
23 December 2002 – The Marine Corps formed a new 86-man commando unit. The Marine Corps Special Operations Command Detachment has no official nickname as of yet and consists of volunteers. It has a 22-man headquarters, 30 reconnaissance Marines, 28 intelligence specialists, and a 6-person team to provide firepower. The unit will begin training in June 2003 and be ready for deployments by April 2004.
27 December 2002 – Nearly 700 Marines with the 2d Force Service Support Group (2d FSSG) deployed from Camp Lejeune to provide real-world operational logistics for Operation Enduring Freedom. Their ultimate destination was not disclosed but it was indicated the unit was headed for the Middle East or the Mediterranean Sea region.
30 December 2002 – The headquarters element of CJTF-HOA hosted military commanders and dignitaries from Djibouti onboard the amphibious assault ship Mount Whitney in the Gulf of Aden to increase foreign cooperation for their task of curbing terrorist activities in the Horn of Africa. The ship arrived in the region on 12 December.
4 January 2003 – An undisclosed number of Marines from the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) deployed from Camp Pendleton, California, for the Persian Gulf region as part of the Defense Department’s plan to bolster forces in the area for a possible war with Iraq. The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) was among those deployed.
11 January 2003 – A contingent of nearly 300 Marine reservists headed to Djibouti in support of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA). The task force was meant to disrupt and defeat terrorism in and around the Horn of Africa and beefed up its ranks steadily since it’s activation in late October 2002. Marines deployed included those from 4th Marine Air Wing, 4th Force Service Support Group, and 4th Marine Division.
12 January 2003 – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld signed two major deployment orders to send 62,000 more U.S. troops to the Persian Gulf area. The buildup in the area reached almost 150,000 following the addition of the troops. The U.S. Naval ships, Bataan, Ashland, Portland, Kearsarge, Saipan, Gunston Hall, and the Ponce, used to transport Marines from the II MEF to the theater left their homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, within days of the order. Marines also unloaded equipment from Marine Prepositioning Force ships in a Kuwait port 17 January 2003 in support of the arriving forces.
13 January 2003 – General James L. Jones relinquished duties as the 32d Commandant of the Marine Corps to General Michael W. Hagee during a ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy. Gen Jones was the first commandant in 40 years not to retire from the position and became the first Marine to assume duties as the head of U.S. European Command on 16 January 2003 and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe the following day.
14 January 2003 – Marine Administrative Message 007/03 authorized the Stop Loss/Stop Move for all Marine Corps personnel, active and reserve. Nearly 22,500 Marines scheduled to either leave the Corps between 15 January through 30 September, or move on to new duty locations in the next 90 days, were frozen in place. The order is the largest Marine Corps Stop Loss since the Persian Gulf Crisis in 1990-1991.
1 February 2003 – An opening ceremony kicked off the Georgian Train and Equip Program (GTEP) which will have U.S. Marines in the country of Georgia for more than a year. Marines are scheduled to train a total of four battalions that will help the republic form its own anti-terrorist units for actions against militants believed to be linked to the al-Qaida network and holed up in the rugged border region near Russia’s breakaway republic of Chechnya.
7 February 2003 – The last active duty FA-18 Hornets with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA(AW)-121) left Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The “Green Knights” of VMFA(AW)-121 had only been back in the United States for three months before returning to action and, unlike previous deployments, the unit had no set return date.
12 February 2003 – Approximately 2,000 more Marines from the San Diego, California, based 15th MEU arrived in Kuwait and the number of activated Marine Corps reservists reached 12,539 as the build-up continued in the face of a possible war with Iraq.
16 February 2003 – Nearly 7,000 Marines from the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) hit the shores of Kuwait, boosting the Corps’ in country strength to more than 40,000 troops. The Marines left Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in mid-January as the Marine contingent of Amphibious Task Force East and joined up with I MEF already in place in Kuwait in anticipation of hostilities with Iraq.
24 February 2003 – Roughly 6,000 Marines of Amphibious Task Force West arrived in Kuwait, bringing the Marine Force to nearly full strength. Nearly half of the 150,000 U.S. troops dispatched to the Persian Gulf region congregated in Kuwait while waiting for word whether the U.S led strike against Iraq was to go forward.
__March 2003 – For the first time since the Korean War, U.S Marines were assigned to serve under the command of their British counterparts. Tactical control of the 15th MEU was given to the British 3rd Royal Marine Commando Brigade in a goodwill gesture to replace troops from the unit that were still engaged in operations in Afghanistan at the time of the Iraqi troop buildup. The Royal Marines, however, remained under I MEF as the unit was in charge of overall Marine operations in the region.
5 March 2003 – The 26th MEU deployed aboard the ships of the Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) to the eastern Mediterranean Sea to await further deployment orders. The unit deployed with a heftier-than-usual aviation combat punch, deploying with six Super Cobras and six Super Stallions instead of the usual four. The 24th MEU, who the 26th would normally relieve, remained in the Persian Gulf region following the extension of their six-month deployment.
12 March 2003 – President George W. Bush signed an executive order establishing two new awards for actions in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal were created to recognize sacrifices and contributions military members have made in the GWOT since 11 September 2001. The medals do not take the place of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal or the Armed Forces Service Medal but no one may be awarded more than one of the four medals for service in the same approved expedition or operation to combat terrorism.
12 March 2003 – The Marine Corps expanded its Stop-Loss policy originally issued in January. Marines in special-duty assignments previously exempt from the order, such as drill instructors, recruiters, security guards, combat instructors, and Marine Corps Security Forces, must now comply with the order to stay in their current assignments. Exceptions were allowed on a case by case basis or if commands received replacements for the departing Marines.
17 March 2003 – In an address to the nation, President Bush sent Saddam Hussein a clear message, “The Iraqi regime has used diplomacy as a ploy to gain time and advantage. ...All the decades of deceit and cruelty have now reached an end. Saddam Hussein and his sons must leave Iraq within 48 hours. Their refusal to do so will result in military conflict, commenced at a time of our choosing.”
20 March 2003 – With the lapse of the 48-hour deadline, Operation Iraqi Freedom began with the launching of approximately 40 Tomahawk cruise missiles at 5:34 a.m. The missiles, which were launched from six U.S. Navy ships, were aimed at three designated military targets around Baghdad, Iraq, in an attempt to kill or maim Hussein. U.S. Air Force F117 stealth fighters were also involved in the opening strike.
20-21 March 2003 – Marines from I MEF crossed the Kuwait border into southern Iraq in the first push to Baghdad. A firefight between American and Iraqi ground forces occurred when a patrol of light armored vehicles from the 1st Marine Division encountered two Iraqi armored personnel carriers. The Marines destroyed the enemy and moved forward quickly, capturing key facilities in Rumeila, Iraq’s southern oil fields. Marines saved all but nine of nearly 500 oil wells from sabotage before continuing toward the Iraqi capital.
21 March 2003 – A Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 crashed nine miles south of Umm Qasr. All four Marine crewmembers and the eight Royal British Marines they were ferrying became the first to be killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. There was no indication of hostile fire.
23 March 2003 – 2d MEB’s Task Force Tarawa lost 18 Marines in the bloodiest day of the war as the task force pushed into the city of An Nasiriyah in order to secure it and key bridges over the Euphrates River, thus creating a second route into Baghdad. A wrong turn lead one company of Marines directly into a two-mile stretch of roadway in a residential area known as “Ambush Alley” that was filled with uniformed Iraqi army troops. A second trip through “Ambush Alley” trying to evacuate casualties from the early firefight resulted in the loss of nearly half of all Marines killed that day.
26 March 2003 – Marines of Task Force Tarawa seized a hospital in An Nasiriyah that was being used as a staging area for Iraqi paramilitary forces. Marines captured 170 enemy troops and located a large weapons cache while Marines located at the Marine Combat Headquarters in Southern Iraq were battered by a significant sandstorm with winds in excess of 60 knots.
28 March 2003 – The 24th MEU (SOC) began coming ashore in Kuwait to reinforce I MEF operations in the southern city of An Nasiriyah. The MEU consisted of Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion 2d Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263, and Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24.
1 April 2003 – Marines launched a diversionary attack near An Nasiriyah to assist in the rescue of an Army prisoner of war by U.S. special forces from the hospital she had been held at since her capture ten days earlier. The bodies of several soldiers killed in the same firefight were also recovered from the grounds of the hospital.
2 April 2003 – Elements of the 1st Marine Division crossed the Tigris River 80 miles southeast of Baghdad and destroyed the Baghdad Division of the Iraqi Republican Guard around Kut.
3 April 2003 – Marine Harriers participated in a major attack on a Taliban camp north of Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.
4 April 2003 – The 1st Marine Division battled its way into the southeastern outskirts of the Iraqi capital, encountering the Al Nida Division of the Republican Guard.
5 April 2003 – U.S. forces entered Baghdad. Marines expanded northward on the eastern edge of the city to secure major roads leading out of the capital.
7 April 2003 – British forces attached to I MEF secured the city of Basra while Marines, linked up with Army 5th Corps troops, attacked along the Diyala River, isolating the Iraqi capital.
8 April 2003 – Elements of the 1st Marine Division expanded a bridgehead over the Diyala River and captured the Rashid military airport on the eastern rim of Baghdad.
9 April 2003 – Iraqi resistance in Baghdad collapsed and U.S forces occupied the remainder of the capital. Marines assisted Iraqi civilians in toppling a large statue of Saddam Hussein in downtown Firdaus Square.
13 April 2003 – Marines of Task Force Tripoli took control of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown and the last significant city held by the regime.
13 April 2003 – A group of Marines sent to Samarra, 75 miles north of Baghdad, to keep traffic from interfering with tanks headed to battle in Tikrit were led to the remaining seven American POWs held by Iraqi forces. An Iraqi policeman led the Marines to a building where they found the U.S. soldiers under guard.
14 April 2003 – A Pentagon spokesman announced that, although some fighting continued in Iraq, major military operations in the country had ended.
15 April 2003 – Elements of 26th MEU(SOC) began to flow into northern Iraq to take control of Mosul, a large city liberated days earlier by Kurdish forces.
20 April 2003 – I MEF began redeploying its forces in central and northern Iraq into its zone of responsibility. The new mission was one of security, humanitarian assistance, and reconstruction.
22 April 2003 – The 24th MEU(SOC) began deploying back toward its ships. It was the first Marine unit to depart Iraq after a more than eight-month deployment
27 April 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced that major combat activity had come to an end in Afghanistan. He stated that the focus would move into stabilization and reconstruction activities and that the military would stay involved in the efforts.
29 April 2003 – The Marines of 15th MEU(SOC) returned to the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group and prepared for follow on operations in the Central Command Area of Operations.
1 May 2003 – President George W. Bush declared victory in Iraq after making a historic landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln as it cruised off the coast near San Diego, California. The president arrived as the co-pilot of a S-3B Viking jet.
1 May 2003 – The 26th MEU(SOC) departed Mosul and returned to its ships in the Mediterranean.
4 May 2003 – The 15th MEU completed its backload to the Tarawa Amphibious Ready Group. The backload, completed in eight days, included 241 tactical vehicles and more than 126,000 pounds of cargo. Two days later, the 2d MEB also completed its backload to the USS Kearsarge, part of the Amphibious Task Force East. Both had been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
12 May 2003 – The Marine Corps lifted its Stop-Loss and Stop-Movement policies that had been put in place in January of this year. The policies were used to increase the Corps’ combat effectiveness for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marine Administration message 228-03 offered the details of the phaseout. An estimated 6,000 Marines were affected by the stop-loss.
19 May 2003 – Four Marines were killed when their CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed shortly after take-off into the Shat Al Hillah Canal near Karbala, Iraq. Two Marines on the bank entered the water in a rescue attempt that tragically cost one of their lives as well. The helicopter was conducting a re-supply mission in support of civil military operations. The cause was under investigation although hostile fire was not suspected.
21 May 2003 – Marines mistakenly shot and killed four Afghan soldiers outside the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. The slain soldiers were part of a disarmament team unloading weapons at a collection depot in an intelligence agency complex across from the embassy. Conflicting reports claimed the Marines were returning fire after being fired upon. Embassy officials blamed “heightened tensions” for the incident. The Afghanistan government issued assurances that relations between the two countries would not be harmed by the tragic misunderstanding.
26 May 2003 – Marines from the 24th MEU returned home to Camp Lejeune. The 24th MEU left North Carolina on the USS Nassau, Austin, and Tortuga in August 2002 for a routine six-month patrol, but mounting tensions in Iraq extended the deployment another three months that eventually included service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
20 June 2003 – The Marine Corps introduced its contribution to the U.S. Special Operations Command with the activation of an elite 86-man unit known as Marine Corps Detachment One. The commando unit, housed at the Camp Del Mar Boat Basin, consists of a headquarters, reconnaissance, intelligence, and fire-support elements.
22 June 2003 – Errant bombs dropped from a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber during a training exercise in Djibouti killed a Marine helicopter pilot and injured eight other servicemen. Captain Seth R. Michaud was a naval aviator with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 (HMH-461) and was participating in CJTF-HOA. He was standing outside of a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter at the Godoria Ridge along the northern coast when multiple bombs were dropped near the aircraft and the training personnel.
2 July 2003 – A Marine was killed and three others were injured while clearing mines near Karbala, Iraq. The deceased Marine corporal was assigned to Combat Service Support Group 11.
12 July 2003 – Marines from the 15th MEU (SOC), who had deployed with the Tarawa ARG nearly six-months earlier, returned to Camp Pendleton. The Tarawa ARG was stationed in the North Arabian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom and provided critical support to ground troops including nightly combat sorties flown by Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161.
18 August 2003 – Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps General William Nyland visited Djibouti to congratulate CJTF-HOA personnel on a job well done. He also reiterated the importance of their mission there. After his speech, Gen Nyland answered questions from service members and took pictures with many of those among the crowd.
3 September 2003 – The I MEF transferred authority for five provinces in southern Iraq to the Polish-led Multinational Division Central-South at a ceremony at Camp Babylon, Iraq. Three weeks later, Marines handed control of Najaf to a Spanish-led force on 22 September. The delay in the second transfer was due to a deadly car bombing in the holy city on 29 August outside of a mosque.
11 September 2003 – Marines around the world paused to honor all those who perished in the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and for their fallen comrades who have since sacrificed their lives in the continuing Global War on Terrorism.
21 September 2003 – Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 (MWSS-273) arrived to take over security for CJTF-HOA from the Air Force Security Forces Squadron. MWSS-273 was assigned to protect the helicopters, cargo aircraft and equipment on the flight line, as well as any transient aircraft that came through the Horn of Africa region.
___October 2003 – Two Marines were charged with negligent homicide following the death of a 52-year-old Iraqi prisoner found dead in June 2003 at a prisoner camp run by the 1st Marine Division near Nasiriyah. Six other Marines were charged with abusing prisoners at the same camp and then lying about the incidents to military investigators. The eight Marines were Reservists with 2d Battalion, 25th Marines.
13 October 2003 – The Marines of the 13th MEU (SOC) arrived in southern Iraq, setting up on the Al-Faw peninsula. Under the British-led Multi-National Division (Southeast), the 13th MEU (SOC) was tasked with disrupting illegal activities such as oil smuggling as well as providing humanitarian assistance.
21 October 2003 – The Marines of the 26th MEU returned to Camp Lejeune from an eight-month deployment which included combat operations on the ground near Mosul in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and participation in the peacekeeping efforts in the West African nation of Liberia. The return of the 26th MEU, however, left the European and West African areas without a Marine presence for the second time in as many years. The lapse in coverage was a necessary void designed to get East Coast MEU deployments back on track after Operation Iraqi Freedom.
3 November 2003 – The I MEF was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (PUC), the highest possible unit commendation, for “extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance” during the invasion of Iraq. MARADMIN 507/03 announced the approval of the PUC and the contributing elements authorized to display the PUC streamer. It was the first time the award had been presented to a Marine unit since the height of the Vietnam War in 1968. Also approved was the awarding of the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation to the 22d MEU (SOC) for its participation in Operation Enduring Freedom during 2002. It was the sixth such award for the unit since activation in 1982.
5 November 2003 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced that Marine Corps units would return to Iraq as part of the U.S. troop rotation. The first 20,000 Marines and sailors of the Camp Pendleton I MEF were expected to replace the Army’s 82d Airborne Division by February 2004. The deployment was expected to last seven-months with another 20,000-strong Marine force replacing them after that for another seven-months.
20 November 2003 – Five Marines and 20 Army soldiers supporting the CJTF-HOA made history as the first Americans to graduate from the French Commando School there. The American platoon trained alongside French Foreign Legionnaires during the three-week course which was to better prepare them for nautical and mountain warfare challenges in the terrain of Djibouti. Each Marine and soldier was awarded the French Commando medal and a certificate of completion.
23 November 2003 – Marines with 2d Battalion, 8th Marines left Camp Lejeune for a 7-month deployment to Afghanistan. The deployment came mere months after some members had returned from duty in Iraq. Also in support of the Global War on Terrorism, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464 (HMH-464) Detachment A replaced HMH-461 earlier in the month as the unit responsible for providing helicopter support throughout the Horn of Africa.
28 November 2003 – Marines from 2d Battalion, 8th Marines (2/8) joined the coalition forces of Combined Joint Task Force-180 in pursuit of al-Qaida and Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The unit, based out of Camp Lejeune, consisted of three infantry companies, a weapons company, and a headquarters and services company. Although the unit was not the first Marine unit to be in Afghanistan, 2/8 was the first active duty unit deployed there since the 2001 campaign began.
2 December 2003 – The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) honored the 15 members they lost during Operation Iraqi Freedom at a ceremony at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. Friends and family gathered as the names of the dead were read and Major General James F. Amos, air wing commander, addressed the crowd of 1,200. A bronze plaque with the 15 names was also placed at 3d MAW headquarters as a permanent reminder of those who died.
9 December 2003 – One hundred forty-nine Marine reservists with Company C, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance (LAR) Battalion returned to Salt Lake City, Utah, after three months in Iraq followed by a six-month Unit Deployment Program rotation in Japan. The Marines were activated in April for Operation Iraqi Freedom where they were able to adapt to the active-duty environment seamlessly.
10 December 2003 – Marine Sgt Christopher Chandler, who lost his left leg below the knee after stepping on a land mine in Kandahar, Afghanistan, 16 December 2001, jumped into the history books as the first service member retained on active duty with a prosthetic limb to graduate from the U.S. Army Basic Airborne Course. Sgt Chandler not only graduated the challenging jump school but was also selected as the class’ noncommissioned officer honor graduate.
13 December 2003 – American soldiers captured former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein after discovering him hidden away in the dark of a tiny, underground burrow near his hometown of Tikrit, Iraq. His identity was confirmed through DNA testing.
14 January 2004 – The first step of the massive troop rotation in the Persian Gulf region for the next major phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom began as the combat gear for the deploying Marines got underway. Marines were set to replace returning army units and assist in the rebuilding of Iraq. Thousands of Marines from both the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and II MEF were scheduled to deploy to the conflicted region by February 2004.
27 January 2004 – The preliminary hearing for three Marine reservists accused of brutality towards Iraqi POWs at the Whitehorse detention center outside of Nasiriyah, Iraq, opened at Camp Pendleton, California. The Marines, members of 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, supposedly beat and kicked prisoners and two of the three Marines faced negligent homicide charges after an Iraqi POW was found dead following the alleged treatment.
28 January 2004 – Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee addressed the House Armed Services Committee and stressed to the congressmen that the Marine Corps was heavily committed to the war on terror. He went on to note the various locations the Corps had deployed to and praised the Marine participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
12 February 2004 – The first wave of Marines from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW) departed from their home station of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in California. Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps SgtMaj John L. Estrada was on hand to see the Marines off and to offer his thanks and best wishes on the coming deployment.
17 February 2004 – The 22d MEU deployed as part of the USS Wasp Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2 from Norfolk, Virginia, on its way to the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf region. It was the first ESG from the East Coast to be deployed and included 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 (reinforced) as well as the command section and MEU Service Support Group 22.
20 February 2004 – Hovercraft and helicopters began unloading hundreds of Iraq-bound Marines and their gear into Kuwait from Navy ships. Marines from I MEF sent advance troops for on-the-spot lessons from the leaving Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and set the groundwork for the rest of the unit which was set to arrive a few weeks later.
11 March 2004 – The I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group completed the longest convoy in the unit’s history after traveling over 800 km from staging areas in Kuwait to Forward Operating Base St. Mere, Iraq. The trek to the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division’s area of operation took three days. Marines were scheduled to replace the departing Army units in safety and stability operations in Iraq.
16 March 2004 – A military investigator recommended the charges against two of three Marine reservists facing punishment in the death of an Iraqi prisoner be dismissed or reduced. The findings were forwarded to Camp Pendleton’s commander, MajGen William Bowden, although he was not required to follow the recommendations. Three weeks later, it was announced that the most serious charge of negligent homicide had been dismissed, but that Maj Clark A. Paulus and Sgt Gary Pittman were still to face court-martial on several other counts. The charges were completely dropped against a third Marine.
17 March 2004 – The Marines of the 22d MEU, as part of the Wasp ESG 2, entered the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations when they transited the Suez Canal. A few days later, the Pentagon announced the Marines were to join U.S. forces already in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Two thousand Marines were already in country prior to the deployment of the 22d MEU, including 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, which had been in Afghanistan since late 2003 conducting operations as part of the coalition forces’ continuing effort to destroy terrorist cells, provide humanitarian assistance, and bring stability to the country.
17-18 March 2004 – The Marine Corps suffered its first casualties in its second Operation Iraqi Freedom rotation when three Marines were killed by enemy forces in the Al Anbar province in Iraq.
20 March 2004 – Marine Major General James N. Mattis, commander of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Division, formally assumed responsibility of the Al Anbar and Northern Babil provinces from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. The relief-in-place ceremony bequeathed to the Marine Corps the majority of the volatile Sunni Triangle region north and west of Baghdad, an area where American forces had been under nearly daily attacks from insurgents. Nearly two-thirds of the 1st Marine Division Marines were also part of the original invading forces a year ago but had a new mission the second time around. The new mission was to help the fledgling Iraqi security forces and build upon the humanitarian efforts of the departing Army unit.
29 March 2004 – U.S. Central Command released its report on the 23 March 2003 incident where a ground-based Marine air controller summoned A-10 Air Force jets to strike suspected Iraqi positions in the city of An Nasiriyah that resulted in the “friendly fire” deaths of 10 Marines during an intense firefight. The Marine air controller was the only one found at fault and faced possible disciplinary action based on the report’s findings. Overall, Company C, 1st Battalion, 2d Marines, suffered 18 killed and 17 wounded in the 23 March battle while trying to secure two bridges in the city.
5 April 2004 – Marines from 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, and 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, shut down access to the volatile Iraqi city of Fallujah in the opening days of Operation Vigilant Resolve. The purpose was to isolate and seek out insurgents holing up in the city following the murder and mutilation of four American contractors. The bitter fighting throughout the month left numerous Marines dead or wounded and with no real peace after the Marines were ordered to scale down attacks and eventually withdraw from the city before an all-out offensive could be launched. Although a tenuous cease-fire was in effect for Fallujah, a cleric-backed militia began spreading violence to several other cities, including parts of Baghdad, Kut, Karbala, and Najaf, in an area known as the “Sunni Triangle.”
8 April 2004 – The Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael Hagee and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps SgtMaj John Estrada paid a visit to the Marines serving in Iraq two days after visiting those serving in Afghanistan. Both trips were well received by the troops as the Commandant promised the entire weight of the Corps remained behind the deployed Marines and both offered thanks for a continuing job well done.
14 April 2004 – The 22d MEU (SOC) completed its move into Afghanistan. The Marines came under operational control of Combined Joint Task Force 180 and were to assist in operations to help stabilize the country. Sadly, only ten days later, three Marines were injured when a roadside bomb exploded alongside their convoy near the village of Daylanor in the Kandahar province.
24 April 2004 – The Marines presented diplomas to the last class to graduate as part of the Georgia Train and Equip program (GTEP). Special Forces soldiers started the program in 2002 and turned it over to the Marines later the same year. GTEP was established to help the former Soviet republic fend for itself and was used as a model for future military-building programs.
26 – 28 April 2004 – Firefights erupted once again in Fallujah and in Najah after insurgents fired upon Marines ringing the cities and a Marine patrol was ambushed. Most of the insurgents were members of the rebellious cleric Moqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army and were using mosques to hide in. Warplanes and attack helicopters were called in to help destroy suspected strongholds that were not considered sacred sites.
3 May 2004 – Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England presented awards to three Marines from 2d Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton for actions during the initial invasion phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in early 2003. Sgt Marco A. Martinez received the Navy Cross, while SSgt Adam R. Sikes and Cpl Timothy C. Tardif both received Silver Stars. Secretary England also presented the widow of GySgt Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr. with a posthumous Silver Star.
6 May 2004 – Four Marines with 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, were presented awards by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California, for their actions during OIF. Capt Brian R. Chontosh and PFC Joseph B. Perez received the Navy Cross and Cpls Armand E. McCormick and Robert P. Kerman received Silver Stars.
7 May 2004 – The Marine Corps suffered its first combat casualty in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001. Cpl Ronald R. Payne’s death came days after the 22d MEU pushed into a region south of Kabul that still harbored Taliban militia and established Forward Operating Base Ripley to support combat and civil-military operations primarily in the Oruzgan province.
13 May 2004 – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited with troops in Baghdad, Iraq, and four days later, Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England paid a surprise visit to thank and talk with the Marines and sailors of 3d Marine Aircraft Wing in Al Asad, Iraq.
14 May 2004 – Two Marines from 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, Private First Class (PFC) Andrew J. Sting and PFC Jeremiah J. Trefney, pled guilty at separate court-martials of abusing an Iraqi prisoner with electrical shocks in early April at a temporary holding facility in Mamudiyah. Both were sentenced to prison as well as reduction of rank to private, forfeiture of all pay, and a bad-conduct discharge. Two others were also set to be tried at a later date at special court-martials in connection with the same incident.
27 May 2004 – The Camp Pendleton-based 11th MEU headed to the Persian Gulf as part of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 3. Commanded by Marine BGen Joseph V. Medina, ESG 3 was deployed nearly a month early in order to deliver the Marines to Iraq. The ESG 3’s early deployment was part of a growing trend as the Camp Lejeune-based 24th MEU was ordered on 4 May to prepare to leave two months earlier than planned and the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge was given unexpected deployment orders on 17 May to deliver about 650 Marines and its cargo of CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters to Iraq.
___ June 2004 – The Marine Corps started rotating troops into Kuwait and eventually into Iraq for the next round of troop deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Several reserve units were tapped for duty as well as the 24th and 11th MEU which set sail for the region. The units were expected to be in the country for seven months.
5 June 2004 – Seven Kuwaiti Islamic extremists were convicted of involvement in the 8 October 2002 attack on Marines participating in urban assault training on the Kuwaiti island of Failaka that left one Marine dead and another wounded. None received more than 5 years jail time and the lightest sentence was probation. The actual gunmen were killed in the attack and none of those convicted were found guilty of the most serious charges of conspiring with the perpetrators.
12 June 2004 – Marines, according to military sources, killed more than 80 insurgents during a three-week assault in southern Afghanistan. The assault on the Taliban stronghold was a demonstration that there was no refuge for terrorists, especially on the eve of Afghanistan’s first free elections that were scheduled for late 2004. Only two Marines were wounded in the fierce fighting in those few weeks, however, less than two weeks later, two Marines were killed and another wounded in the eastern part of the country after they were ambushed during an operation near the Pakistani border.
28 June 2004 – The U.S.-led coalition transferred sovereignty two days early to the interim Iraqi government. The surprise early handover was done in the hopes that it would decrease insurgents’ chances to sabotage Iraq’s step toward self-rule. Two days later, Marines raised the American flag over the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, marking the first time the American flag has flown there in 13 years.
1 July 2004 – The Department of Defense announced the status of an Operation Iraqi Freedom Marine, who had been missing from his unit since 19 June, as captured. Cpl Wassef A. Hassoun was depicted in a video tape showing him being held against his will by masked captors and threatened with beheading. Three weeks later, Cpl Hassoun turned up at the U.S. Embassy in his native Lebanon safe and sound despite rumors that he had been killed. The incident was investigated and closed.
9 July 2004 – Marine MajGen James N. Mattis bade the Marines of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, farewell as the unit brought its deployment to Iraq to an end and prepared to head home to the U.S. Throughout the month, families welcomed loved ones home from other units returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom, including 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, and 3d Marine Aircraft Wing.
22 July 2004 – Marines of the 22d MEU (SOC) pulled out of a Taliban stronghold in southern Afghanistan after completing one of the most successful offensive military missions since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit spent nearly four months in the militia-controlled provinces conducting both combat and civil military operations before beginning its retrograde out of the area. The Marines were expected to return to Camp Lejeune in mid-September.
23 July 2004 – Six Marines from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, completed the first combat high altitude high opening parachute drop in the history of the Marine Corps. The parachute insertion occurred during Operation Iraqi Freedom as an alternate to the highly visible ground insertions that were drawing a lot of attention and fire.
31 July 2004 – The Camp Pendleton-based 11th MEU assumed operational control of the An Najaf and Al Qadisiyah provinces in Iraq as part of the security and stabilization phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Marines initially worked under the Polish-led Multi-National Division Central South, but were quickly shifted to 1st MEF on 8 August. Early in the same week, the last of the Camp Lejeune Marines of the 24th MEU arrived in country and began operations in the province of North Babil, Iraq.
___August 2004 – Numerous aviation units returned home from Operation Iraqi Freedom throughout the month of August. Included were Marines from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 466, Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214, Marine Air Control Squadron (MACS) 2, Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 273, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 261 and Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron (VMU) 2.
5 August 2004 – A cease-fire signed in June between members of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Muqtada Militia and Iraqi officials in Iraq ended when the militia launched attacks against Marines with the 11th MEU and Iraqi security forces in Najaf, Iraq. The gunmen violated international laws of war by using the Imam Ali-Shrine and neighboring cemetery to strike against the Marines and Iraqi National Guardsmen. Within a week, Marines had surrounded the captured mosques and continued to increase pressure on the entrenched militia. Fighting in the city finally ended on 28 August.
17 August 2004 – The Marines of the Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii-based 31st MEU were issued deployment orders to the Middle East to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The MEU including 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, and HMM-265, departed Okinawa less than a week later. It was the largest deployment of Hawaii-based Marines in the Global War on Terrorism to date.
18 August 2004 – The redeployment of the 22d MEU (SOC) finally got under way less than a week after the unit was informed that its deployment was to be extended for another thirty days. The extension came only days after the Combat Action Ribbon was approved for the Marines and sailors of the unit who participated in combat operations in south-central Afghanistan from 25 March through 10 July 2004.
23 August 2004 – The court-martial of Sgt Gary P. Pittman began. Sgt Pittman, a reservist with 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, was charged with assault and dereliction of duty in connection with the treatment of prisoners at Camp Whitehorse detention center near Nasiriyah, Iraq. On the same day, Sgt Matthew K. Travis’ court-martial also began. He faced charges stemming from an incident in April where an Iraqi detainee was shocked with electricity while in custody of 2d Battalion, 2d Marines.
___September 2004 – Marines from 2d Battalion, 4th Marines, 3d Force Reconnaissance Company, 3d Radio Battalion, and 3d Battalion, 7th Marines returned home after completing deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
2 September 2004 – Sgt Gary Pittman, a reservist with 2d Battalion, 25th Marines, was convicted by court-martial in connection with the death of an Iraqi detainee in 2003. He was sentenced to 60 days’ hard labor and reduction in rank to private, but was allowed to remain in the Marine Corps.
11 September 2004 – The 31st MEU arrived at the Kuwait Naval Beach after four weeks at sea. The Marines originally deployed to Okinawa, Japan, in July but left in mid-August for desert training in preparation to join coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The MEU consisted of Marines from 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, and MEU Service Support Group 31. Marines from Company A, 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion and 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, also departed for Iraq in early September.
14-16 September 2004 – The Marines and sailors of the 22d MEU returned home to Camp Lejeune. The MEU had deployed in mid-February and spent the most of the next seven months in central Afghanistan tasked with securing major population centers before the 9 October elections. The push of more than 500 miles inland by the 22d MEU marked one of the farthest by a MEU in Marine Corps history.
24 September 2004 – The 26th MEU officially activated at Camp Lejeune. The MEU would spend the next several months training before assuming its place among the troops deploying in the spring for the next rotation of forces serving in Iraq.
___October 2004 – Marines from Company C, 4th Landing Support Battalion, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, and Company B, 3d Amphibious Assault Battalion returned home after completing deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 also returned from serving in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
5 October 2004 – More than 3,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops, including the 24th MEU, launched an offensive operation in the southern approaches to Baghdad and took control of a bridge across the Euphrates River. Numerous weapons caches were discovered and 35,000 pounds of explosives were destroyed.
6 October 2004 – This date marked the third year for Operation Enduring Freedom. Three days later, the people of Afghanistan voted in massive numbers in the country’s first democratic election.
7 October 2004 – The last Marine Reserve infantry battalion was tapped for deployment to Iraq. 3d Battalion, 25 Marines, headquartered in Brook Park, Ohio, was scheduled to head for Iraq in early 2005, leaving the Marine Forces Reserves without any fresh infantry resources.
8 October 2004 – The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005 was passed. The bill called for the increase in the end strength of the Marine Corps from 175,000 Marines to 178,000. The extra 3,000 Marines would be phased-in over three years and two-thirds of them would be used to bring the 24 infantry battalions up to full strength.
14 October 2004 – Marines launched air and ground attacks against an insurgent stronghold in Fallujah, Iraq, after peace talks were suspended. Two Marine battalions from the I MEF engaged in the fighting with the goal of disrupting the anti-Iraqi forces. The peace talks fizzled over the demand that the insurgent mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and other foreign fighters be handed over to the authorities. On 30 October, heavy fighting in the area claimed the lives of eight Marines and nine others were wounded.
20 October 2004 – Charges were dropped against the former commander of Camp Whitehouse, the detention facility where an Iraqi detainee died while in Marine custody. No specific reason for the dismissal was sited. The former commander was a reservist from Pennsylvania. Charges were still pending against one Marine in connection with the same case.
29 October 2004 – The 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) (4th MEB (AT)) activated a non-rotational AT Battalion. Unlike other traditional infantry units, the AT Battalion was permanently assigned to 4th MEB (AT) and exempted from the Unit Deployment Program rotation in order to concentrate on the battalion’s specialized mission of combating terrorism. When fully staffed, the battalion would have more than 775 Marines and sailors and consist of six companies.
29 October 2004 – Marines and sailors with 2d Force Service Support Group (2d FSSG), serving with the unit between 15 December 2001 and 1 June 2003, were awarded the Navy Unit Commendation Medal from the Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England for exceptional meritorious service during assigned duties in Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
31 October 2004 – An advance party of Marines from 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, left for Afghanistan. The rest of the nearly 1,000 Marines would follow several weeks later, replacing Marines from 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
8 November 2004 – The largest military operation since the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom got underway just after sunset as thousands of U.S. and Iraqi troops pushed into the insurgent-held city of Fallujah. The city had been in rebel control since April after the Marine Corps was instructed to halt all offensives. Operation Phantom Fury began the evening after the Iraqi interim president declared martial law on the city and surrounding area.
10 November 2004 – Major Clarke Paulus was acquitted of the two most serious charges of assault and battery in connection to the death of an Iraqi detainee at the Marine detention facility Camp Whitehorse in June 2003. He was found guilty of maltreatment and dereliction of duty. Sentencing was yet to be decided.
13 November 2004 – The U.S. military began an investigation into whether or not a Marine shot dead an unarmed, wounded Iraqi insurgent inside a mosque during the battle for Fallujah. The incident was captured on videotape by an embedded reporter and was being investigated to determine if the Marine violated any rules and should be charged with a crime.
14 November 2004 – Marines and Iraqi security forces overran the last center of rebel resistance in the southernmost section of the embattled Iraqi city of Fallujah. U.S. forces discovered an underground bunker and steel-enforced tunnels connecting several houses filled with weapons, medical supplies, and bunk beds. Eighty-three Marines and one Navy corpsman lost their lives with hundreds more wounded in the November fighting.
17 November 2004 – The investigation into Cpl Wassef Hassoun’s June disappearance while serving in Iraq was re-opened after some of his personal affects were found in “remarkably good shape” by Marines conducting operations against insurgents in Fallujah, the city he originally disappeared from. His military uniform, military identification card, and civilian passport were among the items found.
20 November 2004 – Marine Attack Squadron 542 returned to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, after a six-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The squadron flew approximately 150 sorties a week to provide Marines on the ground in the vicinity of Fallujah and Ramadi with close air support.
23 November 2004 – U.S. Marines, along with British and Iraqi forces, launched a new offensive, dubbed Operation Plymouth Rock, aimed at regaining control of northern Babil province, a region just south of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
30 November 2004 – Marines with the 11th MEU turned over control of the Najaf province to Iraqi security forces after three months of relative quiet. The 11th MEU also relinquished operational control of the Qadisiyah province to the Polish-led Multi-National Division Central South. Marines with the unit were re-assigned to another area of Iraq following the hand-offs.
1 December 2004 – About 40 Marines came under mortar fire while conducting a series of raids hunting weapons and suspected militants south of Baghdad, Iraq, along the Euphrates River. Helicopters and a tank eventually joined the fray before the hostile fire stopped. Only one Marine was non-critically wounded.
1 December 2004 – The Pentagon announced the number of U.S. troops in Iraq would be increased from 138,000 to about 150,000. The increase was due primarily to the need for increased security for the national elections scheduled for January 2005.
6 December 2004 – The Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU departed aboard the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard as part of the Expeditionary Strike Group 5. The 15th MEU, based at Camp Pendleton, California, was bound for the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf area.
7 December 2004 – Hamid Karzai took the oath of office as Afghanistan’s first democratically elected president.
7 December 2004 – President George W. Bush addressed thousands of Marines at Camp Pendleton to thank them for their efforts and service in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. After having lunch in the mess hall, President Bush dismissed the media in order to be completely accessible as he visited with the families of the wounded and fallen Marines and sailors of I MEF.
9 December 2004 – Cpl Wassef Ali Hassoun was charged with desertion in connection with his 19 June disappearance and supposed kidnapping while serving in Iraq as an Arabic translator. The investigation into his disappearance re-opened after some of his personal items were found in Fallujah in November. The hearing on the case was postponed until 13 January 2005 after Cpl Hassoun requested a civilian attorney.
13-19 December 2004 – Commandant of the Marine Corps General Michael W. Hagee and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps SgtMaj John L. Estrada visited Marines at various locations, including Al Asad and Fallujah, throughout Iraq to bring inspiration and hope to those serving. Both also candidly answered questions and concerns posed by service members. A few days later, troops received another visitor as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld also made a visit to nearly every major U.S. base in Iraq on 24 December.
21 December 2004 – The 11th MEU assumed operational control of Karbala province from the Polish-led Multi-National Division Central South. The Marines conducted security patrols, civil-military operations, and helped train, equip, and build leadership in the 401st Iraqi National Guard Battalion in the area southwest of Baghdad.
5 January 2005 – Cpl Wassef Ali Hassoun was once again declared a deserter by the Marine Corps when he failed to return from leave to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The corporal was scheduled for a court hearing on 13 January in regards to his 19 June 2004 disappearance while serving in Iraq. Originally cleared of the desertion charge for the first incidence, the investigation was re-opened November 2004 after some of Cpl Hassoun’s personal affects were discovered in Fallujah, Iraq.
11-12 January 2005 – Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 (VMFA (AW)-224) departed Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, for the squadron’s first deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). VMFA (AW)-224 was the first East Coast Hornet squadron to deploy to Iraq on a seven-month tour.
20 January 2005 – More than 700 Marines and sailors from 3d Battalion, 4th Marines deployed for the third time in support of OIF. The first Marine battalion into Baghdad in the opening days of the war in 2003, the unit was the first infantry battalion to deploy to Iraq three times. The Marines set up camp near Fallujah.
26 January 2005 – A tragic helicopter crash in western Iraq claimed the lives of 30 Marines and one sailor. The CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter from the 3d Marine Aircraft Wing was transporting personnel conducting a security mission and stability operations near Ruthbah in the Al Anbar province. Twenty-seven of the victims were from 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, and stationed out of Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
28-30 January 2005 – Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, returned to Camp Lejeune from a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion participated in the bloody battle to regain control of Fallujah from insurgents in November 2004.
7 February 2005 – Marines of 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, completed Operation Spurs in Afghanistan. Marines were inserted into different parts of the snow-covered Korangal Valley and searched several houses believed to be hideouts for terrorists. Local Afghanis were also provided with medical care and supplies.
7 February 2005 – Marines and sailors of the 11th MEU began returning to Camp Pendleton, California, following a deployment to Iraq. The 31st MEU also relinquished responsibility of Iraq's western Al Anbar province and began the return voyage home to Okinawa, Japan, on 28 February.
9 February 2005 – Marine administrative message 057/05 (MarAdmin 057/05) was issued stating that casualty assistance officers would no longer wear the dress blue uniform but a service alpha uniform when notifying families of a Marine’s death. The change was intended to help curb the growing negative view of Marines wearing the dress uniform.
14-16 February 2005 – The 15th MEU arrived in the Persian Gulf and began off-loading personnel and equipment in Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A few days later, Marines from 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, and 2d Force Service Support Group also deployed to the region. More than 1,000 Marines from 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, soon followed suit and left for a tour in Iraq on 27 February.
16 February 2005 – For the first time in its’ history, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 (MWHS-2) not only deployed as an entire unit, but also to a combat zone. MWHS-2 had been performing command and staff functions necessary to 2d Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) since 1955 but always remained at Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina. The unit was deployed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq. 2d MAW assumed the air mission in Iraq's Al Anbar province from 3d MAW during a ceremony on 28 February.
18 February 2005 – Marines from 2d Battalion, 10th Marines, started returning to Camp Lejeune following a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marines of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452 also returned from Iraq on 25 February.
20 February 2005 – Marines and others attached to the 1st Marine Division, along with Iraqi security forces, launched Operation River Blitz throughout the Al Anbar province. The operation targeted insurgents in cities along the Euphrates River including Hit, Ramadi, and Baghdadi.
__ March 2005 – Marines with 2d and 3d Force Reconnaissance Companies started arriving home from Iraq on 6 March. Marine reservists of 6th Communication Battalion came home to Brooklyn, New York, on 12 March, while reservists from 1st Battalion, 23d Marines, arrived home in Ohio on 31 March.
6 March 2005 – Marines from 31st MEU started arriving home on Okinawa from Iraq. The air component and others from the unit returned home nearly a month later on 1-2 April. Fifty Marines were killed and 221 were wounded during the deployment.
7 March 2005 – The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (3d MAW) completed the longest deployment in its 62-year history as it headed home after 13 months in Iraq. The wing lost eight Marines and had another 222 wounded.
12 March 2005 – Two Marines were wounded in an ambush by anti-coalition militia while conducting routine security patrols north of Jalalabad, Afghanistan. The Marines were treated on site. Two weeks later, in the eastern portion of the country, Marines from 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, concluded Operation Mavericks. The Marines successfully rounded up suspected insurgents and confiscated several weapons caches in the snow-covered mountainous area.
20 March 2005 – Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen Peter Pace, traveled to Camp Lemonier to personally thank service members serving with the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) in Djibouti. The task force was deployed to the African region to help prevent the spread of terrorism.
27 March 2005 – I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) and II MEF completed a relief in place (RIP). LtGen John F. Sattler, I MEF's commanding general, transferred authority to II MEF's commanding general, MajGen Stephen T. Johnson, during a ceremony in Fallujah, Iraq. Marines with I MEF began arriving home at Camp Pendleton, California, the next day.
2 April 2005 – More than three-dozen insurgents attacked Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. U.S. soldiers and Marines, who were also using the prison as a military base, repelled the attack. No one was killed but 44 U.S. troops were wounded as well as 13 Iraqi detainees as 40-60 heavily armed men swarmed the prison, detonated two car bombs and peppered the facility with rocket-propelled grenades, small-arms, and mortar fire.
7 April 2005 – Two new campaign medals were announced in recognition of servicemembers’ contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Inclusive dates for the Afghanistan Campaign Medal were 24 October 2001 to an undetermined future date, while the Iraqi Campaign Medal dates were 19 March 2003 to an undetermined future date. Troops were eligible for both awards if they meet all required criteria for each.
8-9 April 2005 – Marines of the reserve unit 2d Battalion, 24th Marines, began returning home from Iraq. The unit lost 12 Marines during its seven-month deployment to the region known as the Sunni Triangle.
11 April 2005 – Insurgents claiming to be linked to al-Qaida tried to overrun a Marine base on the Syrian border using gunmen, suicide car bombs, and a firetruck loaded with explosives. The raid on Camp Gannon at Husaybah resulted in three wounded Marines but no American deaths.
26 April 2005 – Marines with 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, returned home to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, from Iraq, officially ending their 10-month deployment. The unit lost 46 Marines, including 26 killed in the tragic helicopter crash on 26 January 2005.
2 May 2005 – Marines with the 26th MEU entered the Persian Gulf area. The MEU deployed from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and included Marines with Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 162, and MEU Service Support Group 26.
2 May 2005 – Two Marine F-18 fighter jets collided over Iraq, killing both pilots. The planes had launched from the USS Carl Vinson in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and were part of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323.
4 May 2005 – The Marine Corps wrapped up a six-month investigation into the shooting of a wounded Iraqi insurgent by a Marine corporal that was caught on tape and broadcast worldwide. The incident occurred as Marines entered a mosque during the November 2004 assault on Fallujah. After a thorough review, the corporal was cleared of all wrongdoing as the Marine Corps considered his actions “consistent with the established rules of engagement and the law of armed conflict.”
7-14 May 2005 – Marines lead the successful coalition offensive campaign Operation Matador near the Iraq-Syria border. The major offensive included nearly 1,000 troops backed by warplanes and helicopter gunships sweeping through desert outposts along ancient smuggling routes believed to be the staging areas for foreign fighters slipping across the border. Nine Marines were killed and 40 wounded during the fighting.
9 May 2005 – Marines clashed with a band of insurgents in eastern Afghanistan. The battle began after Marines received a tip about insurgents operating in Laghman, an opium-producing area 60 miles east of Kabul. The insurgents opened fire with small-arms and rocket-propelled grenades before splitting into two groups, one fleeing to a village and the other to a cave on a nearby ridge. The five-hour fight left two Marines and an estimated 23 rebels dead.
9 May 2005 – The Marine Corps announced the recall of 5, 277 combat vests issued to Marines in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Djibouti despite insisting the vests provide the ballistic protection they were designed to provide. The recall was to alleviate any doubt about their effectiveness that surfaced after the Marine Corps Times ran an article questioning the quality of the protective gear. The gear recalled represented less than three percent of all vests fielded to date.
25 May 2005 – Marines and other troops moved into the Iraqi city of Haditha to battle entrenched insurgents responsible for a major assault on the city three weeks earlier.
25 May 2005 – The Marine Corps expanded eligibility for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal to include Marines that served in countries such as Georgia, Hungary, and Mali. MarAdmin 244/05 announced the changes.
5 June 2005 – Marines and sailors of the 15th MEU returned home to Camp Pendleton after completing a six-month deployment. The unit was initially diverted from its original destination of Iraq to help render aid to the tsunami devastated Indian Ocean area. Following the end of the humanitarian mission, the 15th MEU continued on to the Persian Gulf area to participate in the security and stabilization mission in Iraq.
17-22 June 2005 – Marines lead the third major offensive in six weeks in the volatile Al Anbar province in western Iraq. Operation Spear focused on the rebel stronghold of Karabilah near the Syrian border. During the operation, Marines uncovered and rescued four Iraqi men being held in an insurgent torture chamber as well as several weapons caches and bomb factories.
21 June 2005 – The final flight carrying Marines from 3d Battalion, 3d Marines returned home to Marine Corps Base Hawaii after spending eight months in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. A week earlier, Marines from Marine Air Control Squadron 2 also returned from Afghanistan after completing a six-month deployment and 2d Radio Battalion arrived home from Iraq.
23 June 2005 – Iraqi insurgents carried out the deadliest attack against U.S. female service members to date when a suicide car bomber rammed a convoy in Fallujah. Five Marines (three male and two female) and one female sailor were killed in the attack and 13 others wounded, 11 of who were female. Although female service members are prohibited from combat units by law, cultural sensitivity prohibited males from searching female Iraqis and forced the inclusion of female troops in the combat zones to perform such tasks. The Marines were assigned to 2d MEF and were on their way back to their forward base.
7 July 2005 – Marines and Iraqi forces launched the sixth offensive against insurgent strongholds in the volatile Iraqi Al Anbar province since May. Operation Scimitar began with raids in the village of Zaidan, approximately 20 miles southeast of Fallujah, and at least 22 suspected insurgents were detained.
16 July 2005 – The 13th MEU left Camp Pendleton for a six-month deployment as part of the Tarawa Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) and headed to the Persian Gulf area. The 13th MEU included Battalion Landing Team 2d Battalion, 1st Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163, and MEU Service Support Group 13.
22 July 2005 – The Marines of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) started their journey home to North Carolina after a six-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit, referred to as the Seahawks, was the first EA-6B Prowler squadron to operate in Iraq. VMAQ-4 was replaced by VMAQ-1.
29-31 July 2005 – More than 800 Marines and sailors from 3d Battalion, 4th Marines returned home from Iraq. The battalion was the first ground unit in the Marine Corps to complete three deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
__August 2005 – Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 (HMM-264), Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 (VMFA(AW)-224), and Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38 returned throughout the month following deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
3 August 2005 – Fourteen Marine reservists and a civilian interpreter were killed in Haditha, Iraq, when the amphibious assault vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a roadside bomb. Two days earlier, six other Marines were killed near the same city by enemy gunfire. Nineteen of the 20 killed in those two days were from the same Ohio-based unit, 3d Battalion, 25th Marines.
3-10 August 2005 – Marines participated in Operation Quick Strike, an offensive operation aimed at disrupting insurgent activities in the Iraqi cities of Haditha, Haqliniyah, and Barwanah. Marines netted nine car bombs, 28 other explosive devices, and captured 36 suspected insurgents.
7 August 2005 – Marines with HMM-266 deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom less than a year after it’s last deployment. Four days later, on 11 August, HMM-161 also deployed to Iraq for the third time. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 (HMLA-167) also arrived in country in mid-August to replace HMLA-269, which was on its way home after a six-month deployment.
13 August – Marines and Afghan troops launched an offensive in the remote Afghanistan Korengal Valley. The operation was aimed at rebels believed to have killed 19 U.S. troops in June 2005 hiding out in the eastern Kunar province near the Pakistani border. Only two Marines were wounded during the offensive.
26 August – 1 September 2005 – Marines launched several precision air strikes against al-Qaida positions in the western Iraqi province of Al Anbar.
___September 2005 – The Marines of 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, returned to the U.S. this month after spending seven months in Iraq. During the deployment, the battalion participated in Operations Matador, Spear, and Quick Strike. Three Marines from the unit were killed. Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 142 also came home in late August/early September after completing a seven month deployment to Iraq.
11 September 2005 – Today marked the fourth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that sparked the Global War on Terrorism. Events of the day included a Pentagon sponsored Freedom Walk as well as the launching of Operation Zoba by the 2d Marine Division against al-Qaida fighters in Rutbah, Iraq.
21 September 2005 – The 5th Civil Affairs Group (5th CAG), the Marine Corps’ first provisional civil affairs unit, concluded its deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit transferred responsibilities to another provisional unit, 6th CAG, at Camp Blue Diamond in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. 5th CAG completed more than 270 civil affairs projects while in country.
25 September 2005 – Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Michael W. Hagee, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj John L. Estrada, visited Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, to thank the Marines and sailors for their efforts. The visit was also to help the two leaders gain a better understanding of what could be done to help Marines accomplish their missions in the future.
30 September 2005 – Marine reservists with 3d Battalion, 25th Marines, returned to Camp Lejeune. The unit, comprised of Marines from Ohio, West Virginia, and New York, lost 48 troops in action, including 19 over a two-day-period in early August 2005. The unit was deployed for seven months to Iraq’s hostile Al Anbar province.
___September 2005 – For the first time since World War II, the Marines of 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, deployed to a combat zone. Although various elements of the unit had served in support of Operation Desert Storm, this marked the first time in 60 years that the whole unit deployed. The reserve Marines were activated in June and arrived in Iraq in late September in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
1 October 2005 – Marines from Regimental Combat Team 2 (RCT-2) launched a major offensive near Iraq’s western border in the Al Anbar province. Operation Iron Fist was aimed at disrupting an important conduit for insurgents suspected of filtering into the country from Syria. Operation River Gate was launched days later on 4 October, also by RCT-2, and centered around the troubled town of Haditha. Both operations lasted approximately a week, resulting in at least eight Marines and sailors killed.
9 October 2005 – Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 775 (HMLA-775) returned home to Camp Pendleton, California, after completing its second deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in two years. The squadron deployed to Iraq in March and operated out of Camp al Taqaddum, west of Fallujah.
16-23 October 2005 – Marines of 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, conducted Operation Pil in the Watapor Valley in the Afghanistan province of Kunar to help improve security and stabilize the local government. Enemy contact was limited during the operation.
28 October 2005 – The Marine Corps was given approval to create a special operations unit that would deploy alongside the special forces of the other military services. The Marine Corps’ Special Operations Command (SOCom) component, known as MARSOC, was created after several years of discussion by the Pentagon and the Marine Corps, and the creation of a test special operations test unit, Marine Corps SOCom Detachment One in 2003. Initially, the Marine Corps had opted out of SOCom when the command was established in 1986, but the changing world situation caused a revisit of the issue.
2 November 2005 – A Marine AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed near Ramadi, Iraq, killing both crewmembers during daylong fighting. Witnesses stated they saw the helicopter take ground fire and break up in the air. The next day, al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for the crash. The lost Marines were part of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369.
5-17 November 2005 – Marines of RCT-2 participated in a massive offensive, Operation Steele Curtain, along the Iraq-Syria border. The 17-day offensive was geared toward preventing al-Qaeda in Iraq from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout the Al Anbar province. Ten Marines were lost during the operation.
11 November 2005 – The Department of Defense added Colombia and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the list of countries and areas that qualify U.S. servicemembers for the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Expeditionary Medal. The medal was one of two established in 2003 to recognize military service in support of overseas and homeland defense missions since 11 September 2001.
12-22 November 2005 – Marines with 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, conducted Operation Sorkh Khar (Red Donkey) in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.
16 November 2005 – The Marine Corps issued a recall of more than 10,000 combat vests that did not pass ballistic requirements when manufactured. MarAdmin 544/05 announced the recall following a Pentagon-initiated review revealed that several lots of vests were accepted and fielded despite originally failing ballistic tests. 5,000 other vests had been recalled in May.
1 December 2005 – Ten Marines from 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, were killed and 11 others wounded during a promotion ceremony. The Marines had gathered in an old flour mill near the Iraqi town of Fallujah for the ceremony when a hidden explosive device was triggered causing the devastating blast.
2-3 December 2005 – Marines with 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, conducted Operation Shank in Ramadi, Iraq. The operation was the fifth in a series of operations by the Iraqi Army and Coalition Forces conducted to disrupt the insurgency.
5 December 2005 – All Marines Message (ALMAR) 061/05 announced a secondary mission for the Marine Corps’ artillery units. The new mission assigned each artillery regimental headquarters and each battalion a secondary civil-military operations (CMO) function. The artillery units were given the lead on CMO in their respective Marine divisions to help relieve the Corps’ Reserve civil affairs groups.
7 December 2005 – Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee, visited the Marines of 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, in Ramadi, Iraq.
21 December 2005 – Marines with I MEF began deploying to Iraq to relieve the Marines of II MEF in the fourth large-scale deployment the Marine Corps had undertaken in the past two years in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. More than 25,000 Marines and sailors with I MEF were expected to be in western Iraq by January 2006.
22 December 2005 – An advance group of Marines from 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, returned home to Hawaii from Afghanistan and prepared for the rest of the battalion’s return in the following weeks. The unit deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in June 2005.
26 December 2005 – Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (HMM-261) deployed to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq as the aviation combat element of the 22d MEU.
5 January 2006 – Marines with 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, deployed to Afghanistan from Hawaii in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This was the unit’s second deployment to Afghanistan and replaced fellow Marines from 2d Battalion, 3d Marines. Marines with 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, began arriving home at Kanehoe Bay, Hawaii, four days later.
7 January 2006 – Marines with 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, deployed for the third time to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
15-27 January 2006 – Marines with Battalion Landing Team 1/2 and Iraqi army soldiers conducted Operation Koa Canyon along the Western Euphrates River Valley in Iraq. The operation’s aim was to disrupt insurgent activities and to root out their weapons caches. Forty-five weapons caches were uncovered and destroyed. There were no coalition casualties.
29 January – Marines with 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, returned home from their second combat deployment to Iraq.
5 February 2006 – Marines with the command element of II Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) returned from Iraq to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
5 February 2006 – The 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (3d MAW) took operational control of air operations in western Iraq. The 2d MAW transferred authority almost one year to date after having taken control over the area from the 3d MAW in 2005.
7 February 2006 – Marines with 1st Marine Logistics Group deployed to Iraq. A second wave of Marines from the same unit deployed later in the month on 19 February.
9 February 2006 – Marines with Marine Aircraft Group 26 returned to MCAS New River, North Carolina. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 332 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 also returned home to MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina. The squadrons had been deployed in support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
10 February 2006 – Almost 900 Marines with 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, returned from Iraq to Camp Lejeune, after being deployed to the area for seven months.
17 February 2006 – Eight Marines and two airmen were killed when two CH-53E helicopters crashed during a training flight in the Gulf of Aden, near the coastal town of Ras Siyyan in Djibouti. The aircraft and the Marines involved in the crash were from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 464. Two Marines survived the crash, including the pilot of one of the helicopters.
27 February 2006 – Marines with 3d Radio Battalion returned home to Hawaii from Iraq. The next day, Marines with 2d Marine Division started arriving home from Iraq at Camp Lejeune.
28 February 2006 – I MEF assumed responsibility for Iraq’s volatile Al Anbar Province from II MEF. It was the third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for the Camp Pendleton-based I MEF.
1 March 2006 – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 returned home to MCAS New River after being deployed for seven months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 266 also returned home to New River from Iraq on 6 March while Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 began returning several days later on the 14th.
6 March 2006 – Marines with 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, deployed yet again to Iraq from MCB Camp Lejeune. The unit returned from its last deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in August 2005.
9 March 2006 – Army LtGen Peter Chiarelli, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, directed further investigation into events surrounding a 19 November 2005 attack in Haditha, Iraq. Marines were under investigation for possible violations of the rules of engagement in the death of more than 20 Iraqi civilians.
11-12 March 2006 – Hawaii-based Marines with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, deployed to Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit had returned less than a year earlier from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 also deployed to Iraq two days later.
19 March 2006 – Today marked the third anniversary of the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). In 2003, Coalition forces, including Marines with I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), crossed the Kuwaiti border into Iraq, leading to the removal of Saddam Hussein from power.
__April 2006 – Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, arrived in Iraq and took control of a large portion of Fallujah. The unit focused on training Iraqi Security Forces and conducting counter-insurgency operations for Regimental Combat Team 5.
3 April 2006 – Marine Reservists of Headquarters Battery, 5th Battalion, 14th Marines, returned home to Seal Beach, California, following a six-month tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. All 125 members returned safely.
7 April 2006 – The battalion commander of 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, and two company commanders were relieved of command amid the investigation into whether Marines from the battalion killed numerous Iraqi citizens in Haditha on 19 November 2005. The incident was still under investigation.
12 April 2006 – The Marine Corps banned the use of synthetic athletic clothing containing polyester and nylon by Marines conducting operations outside of forward operating bases and camps in Iraq due to the increased burn risk associated with those materials. When exposed to extreme heat and flames, clothing containing some synthetic materials like polyester melt and can fuse to the skin, causing horrific, disfiguring burns.
12 April 2006 – Approximately 900 Marines and sailors from 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, returned to Camp Lejeune following a seven-month deployment to Iraq.
17 April 2006 – Marines repelled an attack by Sunni Arab insurgents in Ramadi, Iraq, when the insurgents launched a coordinated assault against the city’s main government building and two U.S. observation posts. There were no U.S. casualties resulting from the 90-minute attack.
18 May 2006 – The Marine Corps announced its plans to pull out the majority of its troops serving in Afghanistan. Although Marines comprised the first conventional ground unit into the country following the terrorist attacks on 9 September 2001, U.S. Army and NATO forces were to assume the defense of the fledgling Afghan government and the continuing hunt for Osama bin Laden and his supporters.
18 May 2006 – Marines from the Hawaii-based 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, started arriving home from Afghanistan after completing a five-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit lost three Marines and a Navy corpsman while deployed.
24 May 2006 – Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Michael W. Hagee, announced Marines would face criminal charges for the 19 November 2005 incident that left more than two dozen citizens in Haditha, Iraq, dead. The Marines, whose names were withheld, were from the Camp Pendleton-based 3d Battalion, 1st Marines.
25 May 2006 – Seven Marines and a corpsman were accused of killing an unarmed Iraqi man after dragging him from his home in Hamandiyah, Iraq, on 26 April 2006. The Marines were suspected of killing the man and then attempting to cover up the crime by planting a weapon on the victim and making it appear as if the man was in the process of planting a roadside bomb. The incident was still under investigation.
10-13 June 2006 – Marines with Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, engaged insurgents in direct firefights twice over a three-day period at Observation Post Bears near Camp Habbaniyah, Iraq. Several Marines were wounded in the attacks but no deaths were reported.
21 June 2006 – The Marine Corps announced that seven Marines and one corpsman would face murder charges in the death of an elderly Iraqi man killed in the village of Hamandiyah in April. All eight men were from 3d Battalion, 5th Marines.
26 June 2006 – The eligibility rules for the awarding of the Combat Action Ribbon were revised to include those who “render satisfactory performance under enemy fire” even if no shots are fired in response. The increasing use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) by warring factions led to the change in the eligibility standards. ALMAR 025/06 announced the new criteria.
7 July 2006 – Vice President Dick Cheney thanked Marines and sailors of the 22d MEU for their service in Iraq during a visit to the USS Wasp in Norfolk, Virginia. The Nassau ESG returned in May 2006 from the Persian Gulf after a six-month deployment.
15 July 2006 – Marines and sailors with 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, arrived at Camp Habbaniyah, Iraq, to replace 3d Battalion, 5th Marines.
24 July 2006 – Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, rescued three Iraqi hostages and uncovered a large weapons cache near Fuhuylat, Iraq, during Operation Spotlight. The uncovered weapons included a fully assembled vehicle-borne IED as well as numerous other munitions. Iraqi army soldiers assisted in the operation.
1 August 2006 – The Naval Criminal Investigative Service concluded its investigation into the murders of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, by Marines and handed the case over to a military prosecution team.
10 August 2006 – Camp Pendleton officials opened the Wounded Warrior Center, based on a similar program at Camp Lejeune. The center is designed to help wounded Marines and sailors who are too well to be hospitalized but not well enough to return to their units or the civilian world.
15 August 2006 – Marines with the 11th MEU began returning home to Camp Pendleton after a six-month deployment. The MEU was deployed to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf since 15 February 2006 with elements participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom for a time.
21-25 August 2006 – Marines from 9th Engineer Support Battalion deployed from Camp Hansen, Okinawa, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
22 August 2006 – Marine Corps officials announced they had been authorized to recall thousands of Marines to active duty from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), a segment of the reserves that consists of those who left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military obligation. It was the first time the Marine Corps planned to use the involuntary recall since the beginning of the Global War on Terror. MARADMIN 397/06 announced the recalls.
23 August 2006 – Marines with 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, began deploying to Iraq from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The unit had deployed previously to Afghanistan in June 2005, but this was the unit’s first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
31 August 2006 – As the Marines of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, began deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the unit was among the first to return to Iraq for a fourth tour.
6 September 2006 – Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 began arriving home at Twentynine Palms, California, following a seven month deployment to Iraq.
11 September 2006 – Marines around the world, including those serving in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, marked the fifth anniversary of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks.
13 September 2006 – The Marines of 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, began deploying from Kaneohe Bay to Iraq for a seven-month tour while the Marines with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 and 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, began arriving home in Hawaii two days later after also serving six months in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
21 September 2006 – The AV-8B Harrier component of the 24th MEU ended a short but productive stint in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Marines serving with HMM-365 flew 136 combat missions over Afghanistan in just 13 days, dropping a total of 17 precision-guided bombs. The 24th MEU was stationed in the Arabian Sea as part of the Iwo Jima ESG.
25 September 2006 – Three enlisted Marines were ordered to stand trial for the alleged April 2006 kidnapping and murder of an Iraqi man in Hamandiya. The three Marines were ordered court-martialed by LtGen James N. Mattis, commanding officer of Marine Forces Central Command. Four other Marines and a Navy corpsman were still awaiting preliminary hearings in the same case to determine if they too would face court-martial.
2 October 2006 – Marines with 3d Battalion, 8th Marines, returned home to Camp Lejeune following the unit’s seven-month deployment to Iraq. The unit lost 17 Marines during the deployment.
5 October 2006 – Hawaii-based 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, arrived home after spending almost seven-months in the western Iraqi province of Al Anbar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Eleven Marines died during the deployment.
5 October 2006 – NATO assumed leadership for international military operations throughout Afghanistan, building on the efforts of the U.S. led-coalition to extend the authority of the Afghan government and create the conditions needed for reconstruction and development within the country.
26 October 2006 – PFC John Jodka III became the first of the eight defendants to admit he participated in the killing of an Iraqi civilian earlier in the year. He pled guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice as part of a plea bargain requiring him to testify against the Marines still awaiting trial. Four days later, attorneys for LCpl Tyler A. Jackson announced that a plea bargain had been reached for their client also. LCpl Jackson would also plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for his testimony.
1 November 2006 – Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen Robert Magnus, visited the Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, in Ramadi, Iraq. He spoke with the Marines about several topics, including the situation in and culture of Iraq, as well as about protective gear.
10 November 2006 – President George W. Bush announced that Cpl Jason L. Dunham, a Marine who died of combat wounds in April 2004, would be the first Marine to receive the nation’s highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions while serving in Iraq. Cpl Dunham died protecting other Marines from a grenade released by an Iraqi insurgent. The presentation of the medal to his family was expected to take place in early 2007.
13 November 2006 – A third Marine charged with kidnapping and murdering an Iraqi man in the town of Hamandiya on 26 April 2006 reached an agreed upon plea bargain. LCpl Jerry E. Shumate, Jr., pled guilty to the lesser charges of aggravated assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice days later on 21 November. He was sentenced to 21 months in the brig. PFC John Jodka III had reached a plea bargain in October 2006 on the same charges and was sentenced to 18 months for his role in the slaying on 15 November. The next day, LCpl Tyler A. Jackson, who had also reached a agreement, was sentenced to 21 months as well. All three were to be dismissed from the service. Four more Marines still faced court-martial in the case.
16 November 2006 – Approximately 2,200 Marines of the 15th MEU were pulled from ships afloat in the Persian Gulf and began preparation for deployment to the Al Anbar Province in western Iraq. The exact location was not released nor were the specifics of the Marines mission. It was the third time the unit had been sent to Iraq since 2003.
6 December 2006 – Maj Megan McClung, a 1995 Naval Academy graduate, became the first female Marine officer to be killed in Iraq. Maj McClung was serving as a public affairs officer with I MEF when she was killed by a roadside bomb near the town of Ramadi. She was the fifth female Marine to die in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
15 December 2006 – Marine Corps Mobilization Command (MOBCOM) mailed out 150 letters to Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Marines, calling them back to active duty for approximately one year. IRR Marines are Marines that have completed their active-duty or Reserve contracts and whose only requirement to the Corps is to keep their addresses up to date with MOBCOM in the rare chance there is a need to recall them.
21 December 2006 – Eight Marines were charged in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha in November 2005. Four of the Marines, all enlisted, were charged with unpremeditated murder while four officers, who were not present during the actual incident, were accused of dereliction of duty for failures in investigating and reporting the deaths.
26-27 December 2006 – Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James T. Conway, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, SgtMaj John L. Estrada, visited with Marines throughout Al Anbar Province in Iraq. The pair spoke about ongoing current concerns within the Marine Corps as well as answering questions from junior Marines.
5 January 2007 – The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed as part of the Bataan Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), taking with it the first Marine Special Operations Company (MSOC) to ever be deployed.
11 January 2007 – President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Cpl Jason L. Dunham’s family during a White House ceremony. Cpl Dunham, who died of wounds sustained in combat in April 2004, was not only the first Marine to receive the Nation’s highest military award for valor for Operation Iraqi Freedom, but also the first Marine to receive the award for any action since 1970.
15 January 2007 – The Marines of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, completed an 18 day battalion-level operation in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in an effort to disrupt insurgent activity along the Euphrates River Valley. The operation netted approximately 15 weapons and munitions caches and 9 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that were later destroyed.
23 January 2007 – Marines with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3 (VMAQ-3) began returning home to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina, after six-months in Iraq. Four days later, Marines with 7th Marines also began returning home to California after a year-long combat deployment. The unit served in the western Al Anbar Province as part of Regimental Combat Team 7 (RCT-7) and was replaced in Iraq by RCT-2 on 19 January.
24 January 2007 – Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 (HMM-262) assumed responsibilities of the combat assault transportation mission for Multi-National Forces-West in Iraq. It was the first combat deployment for the squadron since Vietnam.
30 January 2007 – 1st Marine Logistics Group (1st MLG) transferred authority and responsibilities of the logistics combat element within Iraq’s Al Anbar Province to 2d MLG. 1st MLG suffered the loss of 18 Marines during the deployment.
31 January 2007 – Marine Aircraft Group 29 began deploying to Iraq from MCAS New River, North Carolina.
___February 2007 – Marines from 2d Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion and a few from Marine Air Control Squadron 2’s Alpha Detachment, both stationed at MCAS Cherry Point, deployed to Iraq on 7 February. Two days later, Marines with 1st Stinger Battery from Okinawa also deployed to Iraq. Marine Wing Support Squadron 371 also headed for a tour in Iraq this month on 28 February.
2 February 2007 – The countries of Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania and Tunisia were added to the list of designated areas of eligibility for Marines to receive the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. It was the third time the list of eligible countries has been expanded for the medal since its introduction in 2004.
7 February 2007 – Five Marines and two sailors were killed when their Marine CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter was shot down by insurgents about 20 miles northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. It was the fifth U.S. helicopter to be shot down in the hostile country in a three week period.
7 February 2007 – The Marines of 3d Battalion, 2d Marines, returned home to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, after completing a seven-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
9 February 2007 – II Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) assumed command of Multi-National Force-West from I MEF in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province. The last of I MEF Marines were able to return home to Camp Pendleton, California, by 15 February.
12 February 2007 – Nearly 100 Marines and sailors with 3d Marine Aircraft Wing (3d MAW) returned home to MCAS Miramar, California, following a deployment to Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.
17 February 2007 – LCpl Robert Pennington was sentenced to 14 years in the brig after pleading guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy in the shooting death of a Iraqi man in the village of Hamandiya on 26 April 2006 but due to his plea agreement, he would only have to serve eight years and received credit for time already served while awaiting trial.
1 March 2007 – Cpl Trent D. Thomas was arraigned for a second time on charges of kidnapping and murder for his role in the shooting death of an Iraqi man in April 2006. Cpl Thomas had rejected a plea deal with prosecutors last month.
4 March 2007 – Marines with the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MarSoc) opened fire, killing at least 8 Afghan civilians in eastern Afghanistan. Different versions of the events lead to tensions between U.S forces and the local population, with the Marine unit being expelled from the country later in the month by the Army general in charge. The incident also sparked an investigation into whether the Marines responded with appropriate force to an ambush or if they had opened fire without provocation.
17 March 2007 – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167 returned to MCAS New River, North Carolina, following a seven-month deployment to Iraq. Several days later on 26 March, Marines with the Yuma-based Marine Attack Squadron 211 also returned home. Both squadrons had been based at Al Asad Air Base during their deployment to Iraq.
18 March 2007 – The main party of Marines from Hawaii-based 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, began departing for its second seven-month deployment to the Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Three days later, Marines with 2d Battalion, 3d Marines and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363, began arriving home from Iraq.
19 March 2007 – This date marked the 4th anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
21 March 2007 – Major William D. Chesarek, Jr., was awarded the British Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London, by Queen Elizabeth II. Major Chesarek was serving as an exchange office with the British 847 Naval Air Squadron and was deployed to Iraq with that unit. His actions on 10 June 2006 supporting British ground troops lead to him becoming the first American since World War II to receive a British DFC.
23 March 2007 – Marines with Marine Wing Support Group 17 and 9th Engineer Support Battalion returned to Okinawa, Japan, following deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
1 April 2007 – The Marine Corps officially stood up the Wounded Warriors Regiment whose mission was to help injured Marines through their recovery and an often difficult bureaucracy. The regiment is headquartered at Marine Corps Base (MCB) Quantico, Virginia, but has two established battalions, one on the west coast and another on the east coast.
2 April 2007 – All charges were dropped against a sergeant accused of killing five civilians in Haditha, Iraq, on 19 November 2005 during raids on several houses that left 24 Iraqis dead. He was granted testimonial immunity. Over the next several days, at least three officers and several other enlisted men were offered immunity for their testimony in the cases pending against three enlisted men and four officers.
__April 2007 – Marines serving with numerous Marine Corps units returned to the U.S. throughout the month of April from Iraq, including the 4th Civil Affairs Group and 2d Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion on 2 April; 2d Battalion, 3d Marines, on 8-10 April; Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 263 on 19 April; 2d Tank Battalion and 3d Reconnaissance Battalion on 24 April; and 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Tank Battalion, and 3d Assault Amphibian Battalion on 28-29 April. Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 also returned to the U.S. from a deployment to the Horn of Africa on 26 April.
8 May 2007 – The Article 32 hearing for the first of four officers facing charges for failing to properly investigate the 19 November 2005 killings of over two dozen Iraqi citizens in Haditha, Iraq, was convened at Camp Pendleton. Capt Randy W. Stone, a military lawyer, faced dereliction of duty charges. Three weeks later, on 30 May, the highest ranking officer facing charges, LtCol Jeffrey Chessani, also was in court for an Article 32 hearing. LtCol Chessani was the commanding officer of 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, at the time of the slayings and also under investigation for failing to properly look into the actions of the Marines.
17 May 2007 – Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen James Conway, rebuked Army officials for offering premature apologies for the actions of special operations Marines after they were struck by a car bomb in Afghanistan on 4 March. The Marines’ reaction to the attack was still under investigation by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service prompting Gen Conway to state, “As has historically been the case, a service member under investigation or undergoing trial is innocent until proven guilty. And too much in the terms of declaration of guilt and apologies has already been said.” Lawyers for a few of the Marines under investigation also submitted formal letters to the Army requesting its’ leadership cease making prejudicial statements.
19 May 2007 – Approximately 300 Marines from 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, returned home to Camp Lejeune following a nine-month deployment to Iraq’s Al Anbar Province. The unit lost 12 members due to insurgency violence and faced having the deployment extended from its scheduled seven months to nine.
30 May 2007 – The 15th MEU returned to Camp Pendleton following an extended nine-month deployment, five of which were spent in Iraq. The Marines had moved into Iraq in November 2006 in support of counterinsurgency operations in the Al Anbar Province and were extended twice while in Iraq.
15 June 2007 – MarAdmin 364/07 announced the awarding of the Navy Unit Commendation to 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, for service from 26 December 2005 to 31 May 2006 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
5-8 July 2007 – Marines with Battalion Landing Team 3d Battalion, 1st Marines, conducted Operation China Shop II in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar. The Marines conducted census surveys and carried out weapon sweeps.
9 July 2007 – The court-martial for Cpl Trent D. Thomas began at Camp Pendleton. Cpl Thomas was the first to be tried in connection with the 26 April 2006 killing of an unarmed Iraqi man in Hamandiya, Iraq. He was found guilty of kidnapping and conspiracy but acquitted of premeditated murder on 18 July. He was sentenced to a reduction in rank and a bad-conduct discharge but no prison time. Only days later on 24 July, the court-martials for the last two Marines still facing charges in the killing also got under way.
11 July 2007 – Col Christopher Conlin, who presided over a preliminary hearing for LtCol Jeffrey R. Chessani, recommended that the former battalion commander be court-martialed on charges of dereliction of duty and violating general orders for failing to investigate allegations against his men that they killed Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, on 19 November 2005.
14 July 2007 – Regimental Combat Team 2 began Operation Mawtini in Iraqi towns along the Euphrates River long used as insurgent sanctuaries. The operation involved more than 9,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops and was aimed at establishing control in remote areas of western Al Anbar.
1 August 2007 – Wounded Warrior Battalion-West officially uncased its colors during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton. The battalion, one of two under the new Wounded Warrior Regiment based at MCB Quantico, was established to provide oversight and care for recovering Marines west of the Mississippi River.
1 August 2007 – Cpl Marshall Magincalda was found guilty of conspiracy to murder in the 26 April 2006 killing of an unarmed Iraqi man in Hamandiya, Iraq, but was acquitted of the more serious charge of premeditated murder. He was sentenced to time served for the 448 days he had spent in a Navy brig awaiting trial and was reduced in rank to private. The very next day, squad leader Sgt Lawrence G. Hutchins III, was convicted by a different jury of numerous charges in connection with the same case, the most serious being unpremeditated murder. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, a reduction in rank to private, and a dishonorable discharge.
7 August 2007 – Two Marines who pleaded guilty to taking part in the 26 April 2006 killing of an unarmed Iraqi man in Hamandiya, Iraq, were ordered released by LtGen James N. Mattis, commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Central Command. Pvts Tyler A. Jackson and Jerry E. Shumate, Jr., each served about nine months of the 21-month sentences imposed under a plea bargain. Three days later, Pvt Robert Pennington, the only Marine still incarcerated after pleading guilty in the case, was the also granted early release.
9 August 2007 – LtGen James N. Mattis dismissed all charges against LCpl Justin Sharratt. LCpl Sharratt was one of four enlisted Marines who originally faced murder and other charges in the deaths of several Iraqi citizens in Haditha on 19 November 2005. Charges were also dismissed against a military lawyer, Capt Randy W. Stone, who was accused of not properly investigating the slayings.
16 August 2007 – A former Marine sergeant was charged in federal court in Los Angeles, California, for his alleged role in the killing of eight unarmed Iraqi prisoners during the intense November 2004 battle for Fallujah. Four days later, the Marine Corps announced it was charging another Marine in connection with the same incident. Both men were members Company K, 3d Battalion, 1st Marines.
16 August 2007 – Marines with 3d Battalion, 6th Marines, began returning to North Carolina following a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. About a week later, on 22 August, 2d Battalion, 7th Marines, also began arriving home in California from Iraq .
___September 2007 – A Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation report into the actions of a Marine special operations company pulled from Afghanistan in March 2007 was forwarded to Marine Corps Forces Central Command for review.
4 September 2007 – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 deployed to the Al Anbar Province in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
5 September 2007 – The Marine Corps announced that three officers received administrative sanctions in connection with the killing of Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in November 2005 because their actions in the aftermath of the incident did not meet the high standards expected of senior leadership. MajGen Richard A. Huck, former commanding general of 2d Marine Division; Col Stephen W. Davis, former commanding officer of Regimental Combat Team 2; and Col Robert G. Sokoloski, former chief of staff of 2d Marine Division, received letters of censure from the Secretary of the Navy that were filed in their official military records.
7 September 2007 – Marines with 2d Battalion, 10th Marines, returned home to Camp Lejeune after spending seven months in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
10 September 2007 – 1stLt Andrew Grayson, one of four officers to face charges for failing to properly investigate the November 2005 Haditha incident, rejected a plea deal that would dismiss the charges he faced in exchange for an admission that he covered up the killings of Iraqi civilians. Two days later, another of the four officers, Capt Lucas McConnell, was fully exonerated. Capt McConnell was the second of the four to have all charges dropped.
14 September 2007 – A formal transfer of authority ceremony was held in Al Taqaddum, Iraq, as 6th Engineer Support Battalion (6th ESB) assumed the responsibilities of out-going 8th ESB. Ten days later, members of 8th ESB began arriving home at Camp Lejeune.
17 September 2007 – Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 (VMM-263) became the first combat squadron to deploy with the MV-22 Osprey aircraft. VMM-263 departed from MCAS New River for a seven-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The first of the Ospreys landed in Iraq in early October.
23 September 2007 – About 200 Marines with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 (HMLA-269) returned to MCAS New River from Iraq.
30 September 2007 – Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 (VMFA-232), who had deployed with the USS Nimitz for seven months, returned home to California. The squadron logged approximately 2,400 flight hours and participated in both Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
___October 2007 – Numerous Marine Corps units returned home following deployments to Iraq during the month of October. Among those returning were Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 on 1 October; 5th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) on 2 October; 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, on 3 October; 2d Battalion, 5th Marines, on 8 October; Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron Two on 14 October; 1st Battalion, 3d Marines on 16 October; and 2d Battalion, 6th Marines, on 22 October.
4 October 2007 – LtCol Paul Ware, the investigating official, recommended that SSgt Frank Wuterich be tried on negligent homicide instead of the more serious charge of unpremeditated homicide in the deaths of Iraqi civilians. SSgt Wuterich was the squad leader who allegedly directed his Marines in an assault in Haditha on 19 November 2005 that left over two dozen Iraqis dead.
10 October 2007 – LtGen James N. Mattis ordered that a court of inquiry be convened to investigate the actions of a Marine Corps special operations company on 4 March 2007 in Afghanistan which left several civilians dead and wounded. The court of inquiry is a rarely convened high-level administrative investigatory body and not a criminal proceeding. To date, no Marine had been criminally charged in connection with the incident.
19 October 2007 – LtGen James N. Mattis dismissed murder and negligent homicide charges against LCpl Stephen Tatum but ordered him to general court-martial on lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and aggravated assault stemming from the November 2005 Haditha incident. LtGen Mattis also ordered criminal charges to proceed against the former battalion commander of 3d Battalion, 4th Marines, LtCol Jeffrey R. Chessani, for failing to accurately report and investigate the same incident.
2 November 2007 – Marines assigned to Task Force National Capital Region deployed to Iraq for seven months. Made up of more than 200 Marines, nearly all volunteers, from various commands in the Washington, D.C., area, the unit was formed in June in order to give Marines a chance to deploy from usually non-deployable duty stations such as MCB Quantico.
17 November 2007 – Marines and sailors with the 13th MEU returned home to Camp Pendleton following a seven-month deployment to the Persian Gulf with the Bonhomme Richard ESG that included a ground combat tour in Iraq.
17 November 2007 – Marines with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion (1st MSOB), U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, returned to Camp Pendleton following the unit’s historic first deployment. While deployed, 1st MSOB conducted special operations in the Philippines and Afghanistan.
21-22 November 2007 – Approximately 650 Marines with 3d Battalion, 7th Marines, arrived home in California. While deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Marines operated in and around Ramadi, the capital of the Iraqi western Al Anbar Province.
28 November 2007 – The special court of inquiry ordered in October to be held in regards to Marines allegedly killing unarmed Afghan civilians in March 2007 was postponed until early in 2008 to allow both sides additional time to prepare.
13 December 2007 – A Marine reservist, LCpl Delano Holmes, was found guilty of negligent homicide in the death of an Iraqi soldier. The pair were standing watch together at a guard post in Fallujah on 31 December 2006 when LCpl Holmes stabbed Pvt Munther Jasem Muhammed Hassin to death. Despite claiming self-defense, LCpl Holmes was convicted and sentenced to time-served, reduction in rank to private, and a bad-conduct discharge. He had already spent 10-months in the brig while awaiting trial.
16 December 2007 – Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 (VMFA-251) began arriving home at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, following a six-month deployment on board the USS Enterprise. While deployed, VMFA-251 flew missions in support of U.S. coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq.
15 January 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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.
7 March 2008 – 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.
13 March 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – This date marked the fifth anniversary of the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
28 March 2008 – 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.
4 April 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – Marines from 2d Battalion, 2d Marines, began deploying from Camp Lejeune to Iraq’s Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
29 April 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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.
23 May 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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.
26-27 July 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – 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 2008 – Marines with 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, began deploying to Al Anbar Province in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
1 October 2008 – 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.
9 October 2008 – 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 2008 – 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.
__November 2008 – 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 2008 – Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 began leaving Camp Pendleton to begin another seven-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
14 November 2008 – 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 2008 – 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.
3 December 2008 – 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.
8 December 2008 – MARADMIN 689/09 was signed, allowing for Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Marines on involuntary orders to voluntarily extend to remain deployed.