Third Battalion, Fifth Marines along with the 5th Marine Regiment, was first organized on 8 June, 1917 as the United States prepared for World War I. Six days later, the Battalion, manned by Spanish War and Boxer Rebellion veterans along with a large number of raw recruits, set sail for France. Campaigns and battles such as Bois de Belleau, Vierzy, Chateau Theirry, Pont-a-Mousson, Limey Sector, Fleury, Muese Argonne, Blano Mont, St Michiei, Leffincourt and Soissons proved to the world that the Battalion knew how to fight.
The French Government recognized the fighting ability of the young Battalion by presenting it the Crois De 'Guerre along with the Fourragere and changing the name of a French landmark, Belleau Wood, to "Bois de la Brigade de Marine" or Wood of the Marine Brigade". In August 1919 the Battalion was deactivated following World War I and less than two years later, in May 1921, the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines was reactivated. For the next several years, men of the 3rd Battalion served in the Caribbean and at home, guarding the U.S. Mail.
In March 1927, the 3rd Battalion deployed to Nicaragua to help stabilize the government against overthrow attempts by rebel forces. For the next six years, the Battalion aided the Nicaraguan Government until peace was finally restored. The victory won, the 3rd Battalion was once again disbanded on January 1933.
In November 1934, the 3rd Battalion was reactivated for the fourth time, only to be deactivated in March 1935. Shortly before World War II in April of 1940, 3rd Battalion was again reactivated. The fighting in World War II found the Marines of 3rd Battalion at Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Peleliu, and Okinawa. In April 1946, their mission accomplished, 3rd Battalion was disbanded and most of the Pacific Veterans returned to civilian life.
During October of 1949, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines was activated in Guam. During August 1950, the Battalion deployed to fight the Communist force invading the Republic of Korea. Names such as the Pusan Perimeter, Inchon, Seoul and Chosin Reservoir were added to the Battalion's battle vocabulary. At the close of hostilities, the 3rd Battalion returned to the United States, settling at Camp Pendleton as part of the free world forces poised for deployment anywhere their fighting experience was needed.
From June 1966 to March 1971, the 3rd Battalion was again in the heat of battle, this time in Vietnam. New names found their way into me Battalion's history: Chu-Lai, DaNang, Quang Nam, Que Son, An Hoa and Ross Combat Base became engraved in the memories of a different generation of Marines.
On 1 December, 1990, the Battalion answered the country's call and deployed to the Middle East in Support of Operation Desert Shield as a Battalion Landing Team, with the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade. As part of the largest amphibious task force assembled since Vietnam, and augmented with reserves from 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion and 4th Tank Battalion, 3rd Battalion distinguished itself in combat operations in Al Wafrah, Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. Enroute home from hostilities, 3rd Battalion participated in Operation Sea Angel, moving critical food and supplies to the cyclone ravaged country of Bangladesh.
3rd Battalion has been serving in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Battalion was deployed in 2003 for the push to Baghdad to oust Saddam Hussein. The Battalion was again deployed in 2004 to capture the city of Fallujah from insurgent’s control. In November 2004, the Battalion, along with several other units, participated in Operation Phantom Fury and was part of one of the biggest battles in Iraq thus far.
3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, because of its pride and professionalism in combat, has accumulated seventy-seven decorations; which solidify its battle tested colors. 3rd Battalion continually trains to maintain combat readiness in the event their nation requires their combat services.