MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Due to the increasing operational requirements around the world, Headquarters Marine Corps authorized the reactivation of 3/4 starting Oct. 1, 2015.
“The reactivation of 3/4 offers the Marines, sailors, veterans and friends of the battalion an opportunity to celebrate the return of one of the Marine Corps’ most deployed units in its history,” said Maj. Jonathan Kenney, executive officer, 3/4.
‘Darkside’ most recently deactivated May 2014, to keep up with Marine Corps drawbacks; lowering force size to approximately 175,000 Marines as directed by Congress.
“The reactivation of an infantry battalion validates that our nation needs a Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Brian S. Middleton, commanding officer, 3/4.
During the ceremony, 1st Marine Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Daniel J. O’Donohue and Middleton spoke of the legacy of 3/4 before the unveiling of the battle colors.
“This field is named after Lance Cpl. Torrey Gray who was serving with 3/4 in Iraq when he gave his life in 2004,” Middleton said. “I think it’s appropriate that we hold this ceremony here.”
Originally activated 90 years ago, Oct. 1, 1925, at Naval Base San Diego; the ‘Thundering Third’ has since served in many a clime and place across the globe.
“Over the 90 years the battalion has existed, it has been deactivated seven occasions only to be reawakened when the Marine Corps and the nation needed her the most,” Middleton said.
Throughout WWII and the Vietnam War, 3/4 deployed numerous times, participating in many key battles and campaigns throughout both wars. The unit has answered the nation’s call wherever they were needed with deployments to the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia and South America.
“In the Marines of 3/4, we have a legacy that goes back to [3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment], 4th Marines, and the Raider Battalion that goes back to 1925,” O’Donohue said. “The most important thing we can do is transition that legacy and valor to the Marines; the intangible aspect of what it means to be a Marine.”
The battalion deployed frequently in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The exploits of the ‘Darkside’ Marines included being the first Marine Corps element to cross into the city of Baghdad.
“Between 2003 and 2013, the battalion conducted seven combat deployments,” Middleton said. “For 90 years, the Marine Corps called upon the Marines of Thundering Third and they have always answered that call. Those of us given the privilege of activating the battalion today understand the legacy that comes with it.”
The Marines of 3/4 look forward to the future; prepared to carry on the legacy to be the most ready, when the nation is the least ready.
“Whether one considers the battalion’s experiences in China, the unparalleled challenges endured during WWII, the savage fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, or the iconic downing of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad’s Firdos Square, members of 3/4 always performed beyond expectations,” Kenney said. “As a result, we are grateful for this opportunity to return ‘Darkside’ to its warfighting form and aim to continue the battalion’s storied legacy. Just like the Marines and sailors that preceded us, we will remain ready to answer our nation’s call whenever and wherever that occurs.”