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

In a solemn ceremony in Hawaii, “America’s Battalion” folded its colors, draped its battle streamers, and faded back into its storied history.

On Friday January 13, the Corps inactivated the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. It is part of a series of moves across the Indo-Pacific region designed to slim down infantry-heavy combat teams. Coastal Regimentswith fewer grunts but more anti-aircraft missiles and Ship-killing batteries.

That cold logic of strategy didn’t make Friday’s moment any less bittersweet. When the ocean band played Auld Lang SyneSix marines struck the battalion’s colors and draped the banners in black cloth.

A quartet of marines then marched cased flags from the parade deck, with no troops following behind them, for their battalion was no more.

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“Before I look to the future, I want to look to the past and honor the service and sacrifice of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines,” Col. Timothy S. Brady Jr, commander of the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, told the Dewey Square crowd midway through the nearly hour-long ceremony. “A unit founded by heroes. Each call answering unit. The unit adopted the motto, Fortuna Fortes Juat “Fortune favors the brave.”


With the 3rd Battalion at Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the island of Oahu, the 3rd Marines cased their colors on January 13, 2023 and were officially inactivated from the Corps. US Marine Corps Image.

Brady commanded 3/3 from 2015 to 2017, but his address returned to the bloody Pacific campaign during World War II, when the battalion was formed to storm the Bougainville beaches and Guam.

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During Vietnam, 3/3 fought in Danang and Khe Samh.

In Iraq, the American battalion took place Fallujah and Haditha. The battalion’s Marines fought across Afghanistan Helmand Province.

In a written message to Marines and Sailors gathered at Dewey Square, their boss – Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman JrThe commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Force – reminded him that famous battalions and squadrons had first burned their colors and then returned to duty, and the same was true of 3/3.


Pfc. Aramis c. Sandoval, of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, pulls security at a vehicle checkpoint near Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Afghanistan, May 30, 2010. US Marine Corps Photo Sgt. Mark Phyloga.

The battalion was disbanded in 1945, but later reactivated in 1951. It was closed again in 1974, but the Pentagon resurrected it a year later.

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And if war comes again, the battalion colors will be exposed to a new generation of marines.

“This deactivation is difficult and a sense of loss cannot be felt by all who served with the battalion,” wrote Bierman, who fought alongside the unit in Iraq as commander of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines. “For many veterans, and many who are currently serving, the entire service was 3/3, and so the tight-knit battalion completely defined the Navy experience. May each of you wipe away tears and take great comfort in the fact that your hearts are steel, proud memories and strong relationships will endure.

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