In Hawaii, ‘America’s Battalion’ Folds its Colors and Fades Away

During a somber ceremony in Hawaii, “America’s Battalion” folded its colors, donned its battle ribbons, and faded back into its glorious history.

On Friday, January 13, the Corps deactivated the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. This is part of a series of moves across the Indo-Pacific region designed to reduce heavy infantry combat teams to littoral regimentswith less grunt but more anti-aircraft missiles and ship-killing batteries.

The cold logic of Friday’s strategy made the moment no less bitter. While the marine band played Old Lang Synesix Marines struck the battalion colors and wrapped the flags in black cloth.

A quartet of Marines then marched with the flags into the case from the parade deck, without the soldiers trailing behind them because their battalion was gone.

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“Before I look to the future, I want to look back and honor the service and sacrifice of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines,” Col. Timothy S. Brady Jr., commanding officer of the 3rd Marine Coastal Regiment, told the audience at Dewey Square in the middle of the nearly hour-long ceremony. “A unit founded by heroes. The unit that answered every call. The unit that adopted the motto, Fortuna Fortes Juvat — fortune favors the brave.”


On January 13, 2023, at Marine Corps Air Station Hawaii on the island of Oahu, the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines went into combat gear and was officially inactivated by the Corps. Picture of the US Marine Corps.

Brady commanded 3/3 from 2015 to 2017, but his title reverted to the bloody Pacific campaign of World War II, when the battalion was formed to attack the beaches of Bougainville and Guam.

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During Vietnam, 3/3 fought at Danang and Khe Sanh.

In Iraq, the American battalion held Fallujah and the Hadith. Marines of the battalion fought in Afghanistan Helmand Province.

In a written message to the Marines and Sailors gathered in Dewey Square, their boss – Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman Jr.commanding general III. of the Naval Expeditionary Force — he reminded them that famous battalions and squadrons had donned their colors in knives before, only to return to duty later, and the same was true of 3/3.


Pfc. Aramis C. Sandoval, a Marine with Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, clears security at a vehicle checkpoint near Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, May 30, 2010. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Fayloga.

The battalion was closed in 1945, but then reactivated in 1951. It was closed again in 1974, but was not revived by the Pentagon until a year later.

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And if there is another war, the battalion’s colors will likely be flown for a new generation of Marines.

“This deactivation is difficult and cannot help but come with a sense of loss for all who served with the battalion,” wrote Bierman, who fought with the unit in Iraq as commander of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. “For many veterans and many currently serving, the entire service was 3/3, so the close-knit battalion completely defined the experience of being a Marine. As each of you wipes away a tear and steels your heart, take great comfort in the fact that proud memories and strong relationships will endure.”

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