3rd Marine Division celebrates 72nd anniversary
CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan -- Marines and sailors with 3rd Marine Division celebrated the unit’s 72nd anniversary Sept. 16 during a ceremony at Camp Hansen.
The ceremony took place in front of the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, headquarters building where the parade deck was decorated with M777A2 lightweight 155 mm howitzers and U.S. state flags.
“We are a Marine Corps of tradition, concerned and thoughtful of our legacy,” said Maj. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, the commanding general of 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We are celebrating where this division has been in the past. We do this every year to honor those who served in the past as well as those who currently serve.”
The division’s mission is to execute amphibious assault operations with support from aviation and logistical units. They have conducted amphibious landings and sustained land operations ashore since the Pacific battles of World War II to modern conflicts.
“It’s a powerful history if you look at what we have done in World War II and Vietnam,” said Clardy, from Pawleys Island, South Carolina. “It’s a lot to be proud of and (our Marines) should know that. This is just a way of keeping their interest in the history of the division.”
The division was initially established in 1942 at Camp Elliot in San Diego, California. In 1969, they relocated to Camp Courtney, Okinawa, where the division headquarters is presently located.
The division has participated in battles across the Asia-Pacific and Middle East, earning its nickname the “Fighting Third” for its warfighting prowess, battlefield success, and historical significance in numerous conflicts.
“It is a name that continues the legacy of the Marines that came before us,” said Lance Cpl. James E. Rivera, a water support technician with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. “We are paying respect to our brothers who have given their lives in (areas) like Guam, Iwo Jima, and Afghanistan. We are celebrating the birth of the division to inspire Marines and boost their morale.”
In honor of the division’s 72nd birthday, they celebrated with a cake cutting ceremony and remarks honoring the division’s storied history.
“The division’s birthday ceremony is a representation of the burning fire in each Marines’ heart from the oldest to the youngest, and the burning devotion each person is willing to give to his country, Corps and brothers in arms,” said Cpl. Kumasi I. Allen, a field wireman with 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division.
Clardy shared his thoughts with his Marines about the event and the division’s history to end the ceremony.
“The annual ceremony reminds me to remain true to the history of the division and the legacy of those who have gone before,” said Clardy. “The division is a great team of Marines and sailors, yesterday and today, who selflessly serve the ideals of our country and corps.”