3rd Tank Battalion

The 3rd Tank Battalion (3rd Tanks) was an armor battalion of the United States Marine Corps.

3rd Marine Tank Battalion
3rd Tank Battalion insignia - USMC
3rd Tank Battalion insignia
Active16 September 1942 - 7 January 1946
5 March 1952 - 1 June 1992
Country United States
AllegianceUnited States of America
BranchUnited States Marine Corps
RoleArmor protected firepower and shock action.
Nickname(s)3rd Tanks
Motto(s)Shock, Mobility, Firepower!
EngagementsWorld War II
Vietnam War
Operation Desert Storm


World War II

The 3rd Tank Battalion was formed during World War II on 16 September 1942. Each of the three regimental combat teams of the 3rd Marine Division had their own tank company and a scout car platoon. The 9th Marines tank company became Company A, 21st Marines company became Company B, and the 23rd Marines (later redesigned Third Marines) company became Company C.

When the battalion was formed it absorbed the three companies; a Headquarters and Service Company, Company D, and Company E (a Scout and Sniper Company). Company E (Scouts) was a combined arms reconnaissance (CAR) unit that had three scout platoons. They were formed from a group of reassigned reconnaissance scouts from the Scout and Sniper companies within the 3rd Marine Division.[1] They became the forerunner of the Marine Division Reconnaissance assets used by the Marine divisions today.[2] For greater mobility and firepower, the division commander equipped his scout company with light tanks to reinforce his regimental infantry units; especially useful for reconnaissance in force (RIF) tasks.[3] Its mechanized armor uses are also in effect today. During the 1980s, the Light Armored Reconnaissance battalions were formed, revitalizing the same methods used during World War II.

In January–February 1943, they deployed to Auckland, New Zealand.[1]

They participated in the Battle of Bougainville, Battle of Guam and the Battle of Iwo Jima. Arriving on Iwo Jima on 20 February 1945, the battalion played an important role in the capture of the island. Following the end of the war the battalion returned to the US via Guam, sailing to San Diego in December, 1945. On 7 January 1946, the battalion was deactivated at Camp Pendleton.

Korean War

With the outbreak of the Korean War the battalion was reactivated at Camp Pendleton on 5 March 1952. In August 1953, the battalion sailed for Yokohama, Japan for service with the 3rd Marine Division at Camp Fuji. In February 1956, the 3d Tank Battalion was relocated to Okinawa and the following year moved to Camp Hansen, Okinawa.

Vietnam War

On 3 March 1965 SSgt John Downey, 3rd platoon, Company B, 3rd US Marine Corps 3rd Tank Battalion, drove his M48A3 Patton tank off the landing craft onto Red Beach 2 in I Corps, South Vietnam. SSgt Downey's USMC Patton tank became the first US tank to enter the Vietnam War.[4] The 3rd Tank Battalion conducted combat operations in South Vietnam from 1965 to 1969 and set up a command post at Da Nang. In 1965 the 3rd Tanks engaged the Viet Cong 1st Regiment southwest of Da Nang, pushing them into the sea, and killing over 700 men.[5] However, after the two-day battle, seven of the 3rd Tank Battalion's M48s had suffered hits, three of which were hit so badly they could no longer traverse their turrets, and one of the three was so damaged that it had to be destroyed by a demolition team.[5]

Eventually two full battalions, consisting of the USMC 1st and 3rd Tank Battalions, would end up conducting combat operations in northern I Corps, South Vietnam. They participated in combat actions against communist forces during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and during the re-taking of the city of Huế, and the siege of Khe Sanh during that same enemy offensive.[5] Until their re-deployment in November 1969, the 3rd Tanks served as an armored defense at the DMZ along the 17th Parallel.

Post Vietnam

This was a period of desert tactical doctrine development for the Marine Corps and the 3rd Tank Battalion played a major role developing the concept of the tank battalion as a maneuver element in extended inland warfare during a multitude of Combined Arms Exercises (CAX) and the 1981/82 joint training operation, Gallant Eagle.

Around the time of the Iran-U.S. Hostage Crisis (1979-1981) the US Department of Defense developed a concept for rapid deployment of forces which became the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF). The 3rd Tank Battalion (-) Reinforced, along with an infantry battalion and an artillery battalion all collocated at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Marine Corps Base 29 Palms, California became the combat power of the newly reformed 27th Marine Regiment in the newly formed 7th Marine Amphibious Brigade (MAB). The two headquarters for the 27th Marines and the 7th MAB received Navy Meritorious Unit Citations for the period May 1980 - Aug 1983.

Gulf War I

The battalion joined the 1st Marine Division upon that unit's arrival in Saudi Arabia on 15 August 1990. They remained in support of the 7th Marine Regiment known as Task Force "Ripper." Alpha company was attached to 1/7 during the war. During Operation Desert Storm, the battalion fought a four-day ground campaign from 24–28 February 1991, and returned to the United States in April 1991. 3rd Tank Battalion and all of its subordinate companies were awarded the Navy Unit Citation for the period 14 Aug 1990 - 16 Apr 1991.[6] The battalion was deactivated on 1 June 1992.

Unit awards

A unit citation or commendation is an award bestowed upon an organization for the action cited. Members of the unit who participated in said actions are allowed to wear on their uniforms the awarded unit citation. 3rd Tanks was presented with the following awards:

Bronze star
United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation with 1 bronze star
U.S. Navy Unit Commendation ribbon
Navy Unit Commendation
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal ribbon
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 4 bronze stars
World War II Victory Medal ribbon
World War II Victory Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon
National Defense Service Medal with 2 bronze stars
Korean Service Medal ribbon
Korean Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal ribbon (1991–2016)
Southwest Asia Service Medal with 2 bronze stars
Silver star
Silver star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon
Vietnam Service Medal with 2 silver stars and 1 bronze star
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d
Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Streamer
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon
Kuwait Liberation Medal


The coat of arms of the 3rd Tank Battalion is that of the 3rd Marine Division, differenced by surmounting the caltrop with a M3A4 Sherman tank, as used on Iwo Jima during WWII and stenciled with a number "3" on the turret and "USMC" on the hull in gold, all above a Marine Corps emblem of gold. A gold banner above the shield is inscribed "Third Tank Battalion" and another below the shield has "Shock, Mobility, Firepower" in scarlet. Subsequent insignia and devices are variations of this original insignia, typically changing the tank to a more modern version.

See also


  1. ^ a b 3rd Marine Division, Two Score and Ten: History, (United States Marine Corps: Turner Publishing Company, 1992).
  2. ^ Bruce F. Meyers, Swift, Silent, and Deadly: Marine Amphibious Units in the Pacific, 1942—1945, (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Press Institute, 2004).
  3. ^ Robert Aurthur and Kenneth Cohlmia, The Third Marine Division, ed. Robert T. Vance (Wash, DC: Infantry Journal Press, 1948)
  4. ^ Starry p. 52 and 53
  5. ^ a b c Starry p. 54
  6. ^ NAVMC 2922 Department Of The Navy, HQ USMC
  • Rottman, Gordon L. (2002). U.S. Marine Corps World War II Order of Battle - Ground and Air Units in the Pacific War, 1939 - 1945s. Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-31906-5.
  • Starry, Donn A., General. Mounted Combat in Vietnam. Vietnam Studies; 1978. Department of the Army.

External links

17th Tank Brigade (Ukraine)

The 17th Tank Brigade is a formation of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. The full name of the Brigade is the 17th Separate Kryvyi Rih Tank Brigade. It was formerly known as 17th Guards Tank Division. The Brigade is located in Kryvyi Rih.

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3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion

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3rd Reconnaissance Battalion

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Battle of Kuwait International Airport

The Battle of Kuwait International Airport occurred on February 27, 1991 during the 1st Gulf War. It was a tank battle between the United States (as part of the Coalition of the Gulf War) and Iraq. Despite being a very large battle it is often overlooked compared to the other battles which took place during the war. No less than elements of 18 divisions total participated in this battle. U.S. Army Special Forces units and multiple Iraqi Commando units were also in theatre. In reality the battle took place over a span of three days despite the primary battle at Kuwait International Airport lasting only one day. Much of the combat actually took place en route to the airport. The battle featured the "Reveille Engagement" which went on to become the biggest and fastest tank battle in United States Marine Corps' entire history.

Cam Lộ Combat Base

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Con Thien

Con Thien (Vietnamese: Cồn Tiên, meaning the "Hill of Angels") was a United States Marine Corps combat base located near the Vietnamese Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) about 3 km from North Vietnam in Gio Linh District, Quảng Trị Province. It was the site of fierce fighting from February 1967 through February 1968.

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John Pelham Mann

John Pelham Mann (13 June 1919 – 8 September 2002) was an English business executive, cricketer and decorated British Army officer.

John Mann was born in West Byfleet, Surrey, the younger son of England and Middlesex cricket captain Frank Mann. His brother was George Mann, who also captained England.

He was educated at Eton and Pembroke College, Cambridge. A right-handed batsman, he missed his cricket blue due to illness, but he was considered an exciting prospect before the Second World War broke out. He played in fifteen first-class matches for Middlesex between 1939 and 1947, being awarded his county cap in 1946.During the Second World War, Mann served as an officer in the Scots Guards. He won the Military Cross as an acting major. He was in command of "Left Flank" Squadron of the 3rd Tank Battalion Scots Guards, part of 6 Guards Tank Brigade, during the advance towards Sevenum, east of Eindhoven. Mann's squadron attacked some well hidden anti-tank guns at night and forced them to withdraw.He was managing director of Unilever in New Zealand in the 1950s. He joined United Biscuits in 1964, and became the company's chief executive in the United States. He retired in 1985 to live in Connecticut.

In 1942 he married Ann Brockbank; they were divorced in 1974. He married Isabel Davis (nee Ochsner) in 1976. She survived him, together with two sons and a daughter from his first marriage and three stepsons.

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Operation Kentucky

Operation Kentucky was a multi-battalion operation conducted by the United States Marine Corps in the area south of the DMZ in Quảng Trị Province. This was another operation to secure the Con Thien area from the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN). The operation ran from 1 November 1967 until 28 February 1969.

Operation Keystone Cardinal

Operation Keystone Cardinal was the withdrawal of the 3rd Marine Division from South Vietnam, taking place from 30 September to 27 November 1969.

Operation Prairie

Operation Prairie was a U.S. military operation in Quảng Trị Province, South Vietnam that sought to eliminate People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). Over the course of late 1965 and early 1966 the Viet Cong (VC) and the PAVN intensified their military threat along the DMZ. The tactical goal of these incursions was to draw United States military forces away from cities and towns. Operation Hastings, a series of actions in defense of the DMZ, lasted from 15 July to 3 August 1966. It was considered a strategic success. Operation Prairie was conceived as a larger, longer mission covering the same areas along the DMZ.

It commenced on 3 August 1966 and lasted for six months. The majority of the activities were conducted by the 3rd Marine Division in the Con Thien and Gio Linh regions with the main objective of stopping the PAVN 324B Division from crossing the demilitarized zone and invading Quang Tri Province.

Various units engaged in fiercely fought actions during the operation, usually supported by a mixture of artillery, air and helicopter gunship support, sometimes including B52 strategic bombers. By November the 324B Division had been withdrawn after heavy losses. It was replaced by other PAVN units, but these remained inactive.

The operation was considered highly successful by the Americans. They had lost 226 Marines killed against estimated PAVN of over 1,700 dead or captured and suppressed PAVN activity. However, the PAVN strategy had tied down large numbers of US troops in the area south of the DMZ, leaving population centers under-protected.

Semper Gumby

Semper Gumby is an unofficial dog Latin motto for the United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, US Navy submariners, Navy Seabees, Army Unit Supply Specialists, and the Civil Air Patrol. It is a play on the motto Semper Fidelis (which means "Always Faithful"), the official USMC motto. It is also a play on Semper fortis which means "Always strong", and the official motto of the US Coast Guard, Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready." Semper Gumby, referring to the animated clay character Gumby, means "Always Flexible". (The real Latin phrase meaning "Always Flexible" would be Semper Flexibilis.)

While the first use of "Semper Gumby" is often assigned to Captain Jay Farmer of HMM-264 in 1984 who actually flew with a Gumby character toy mounted on the standby compass on the instrument panel of his CH-46E nicknamed "Airwolf", the term was in use in 1977/78 in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton.

While popular belief has it that the term was first referenced by the 1st Sgt TOW Co. 3rd Tank Battalion 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Task Force Ripper) prior to deployment of Operation Desert Shield from MCAGCC 29 Palms, Ca. on August 15, 1990. "Marines, My platoon commander in Nam used to tell us 'Semper Gumby, Always Flexible'." The 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines has "always flexible" as part of their official motto. Semper Gumby is also a common phrase used in the field of emergency management.

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