3rd Marine Division celebrates birthday
CAMP COURTNEY -- Marines with 3rd Marine Division held a ceremony in honor of the division's 70th birthday at their headquarters building at Camp Courtney Sept. 17.
The ceremony began with Sgt. Maj. Bruce H. Cole, the division sergeant major, reading the history of the division.
"I want to say happy birthday Marines and sailors of the 3rd Marine Division," said Brig. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, commanding general of the division. "I look forward to being part of this great division's history with you."
The 3rd Marine Division officially activated Sept. 16, 1942, at Camp Elliott in San Diego, Calif.
In June of 1943, it moved onto Guadalcanal for additional training. On Sept. 27, 1943, the division landed on Bougainville Island and fought there until Army units replaced it.
The next operation the division participated in was the Battle of Guam, where it fought through the jungles of the island from July 21, 1944, until the last day of organized fighting on Aug. 10, 1944.
The division remained on the island of Guam for training purposes until it embarked as part of the landing force for the Battle of Iwo Jima.
The division was deactivated Dec. 28, 1945, after Japan surrendered in August of that year.
The division was reactivated on Jan. 7, 1952, at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Immediately after its activation, while still in its organizational state, the division began intense combat training, focusing on new tactics and maneuvers based on lessons learned in the Korean War.
During the remainder of 1952, elements of the division participated in numerous training exercises, including vertical envelopment, airborne operations and defense against atomic weapons and missiles.
On May 6, 1965, the division established the Marine Compound at Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam. Its Marines were the first American combat troops to be sent to Vietnam to protect the airport.
The division departed South Vietnam in November 1969. More than 20 division Marines received the Medal of Honor in the four years there. The division then relocated to Camp Courtney on Okinawa, Japan, where it is presently located.
"I had the opportunity to meet Marines that are still around from when the division was formed," said Padilla. "They are watching us with a great sense of pride in everything this division has accomplished since its inception back in the beginning of World War II."
The ceremony continued with Padilla cutting a birthday cake with a Mameluke Sword and serving Sgt. Colette D. Arganbright, an intelligence specialist with the division, the first piece of cake for serving with the division the longest.
Arganbright then served a piece of cake to Pfc. Ryan A. Siebert, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist with the division, for being the newest Marine assigned to the division.
"It is a great honor to participate in the ceremony," said Siebert. "I am the newest division Marine, and I am proud of being part of this unit and its history (and traditions)."
Upholding traditions is an integral part of the Marine Corps due to a desire to live up to and surpass the vast accomplishments of the past.
"It is important to keep our traditions," said Arganbright. "They allow not only the new Marines but all Marines to look back at all this division has done in its past."