Marine Corps Vietnam Tankers Historical Foundation®
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The History Of Bravo Company 3rd Tank Battalion
HISTORY OF BRAVO COMPANY, 3RD TANK BATTALION, UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
Originally formed as Tank Company, 21st Marines in mid 1942 with Captain Holly Evans as the first Commanding Officer.
Redesignated Company "B" 3rd Tank Battalion on September 16, 1942 when the 3rd Marine Division was activated. The history of the 3rd Tank Battalion is also the history of Bravo Company.
The 3d Tank Battalion was activated at Camp Elliott, San Diego, California on 16 September 1942. The battalion moved to Camp Pendleton for training and in January 1943, with its training completed, the battalion prepared to move overseas. Company A, attached to the 9th Marines and Company B to the 21st Marines, left immediately. The following month the remainder of the battalion for New Zealand.
In June 1943, the 3d Marine Division began its movement from New Zealand to Guadalcanal to undergo final training for its first combat mission. On 1 November 1943, the 3d Tank Battalion participated in the landing at Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainville. The next step in the Battalion's campaign across the Pacific was the Marianas Islands. In June 1944, the 3d Tank Battalion arrived at Eniwetok in the Marshalls to stage for the landing on Guam. The 3d Tank Battalion landed on Guam on 21 July and immediately went into action against the Japanese forces. After the island was declared secure, the 3d Tank Battalion remained there for mopping-up operations. The last campaign in World War II for the 3d Tank Battalion was Iwo Jima. Arriving on the island on 20 February 1945, the battalion played an important role in the capture of Iwo Jima. Following the end of the war the battalion staged through Guam, sailing to San Diego in December, 1945. On 7 January 1946, the battalion was deactivated at Camp Pendleton.
With the outbreak of the Korean Conflict the 3d Tank Battalion was reactivated at Camp Pendleton on 5 March 1952. In August 1953, the battalion sailed for Yokohama, Japan for service with the 3d 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. Here the battalion continued training to maintain combat effectiveness.
As American involvement in Vietnam increased, the 3d Tank Battalion was again called into action. By July 1965, the entire battalion had arrived in Vietnam and set up a command post at Da Nang. The battalion also had units involved in the defense of Khe Sanh and Con Thien. During October 1969, the battalion left Vietnam for Okinawa.
In 1976, the 3d Tank battalion detached from its division and moved to the Marine Corps Air-Ground Training Center, Twentynine Palms, California. The battalion served increasingly in tests and exercises designed to improve USMC mechanized warfare, forming part of the first unit designated for the Maritime Prepositioning Ship brigades, the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade.
The 3d Tank Battalion deployed with that brigade to Saudi Arabia in wake of the Iraqi seizure of Kuwait in August, 1990. Among the first U.S. forces to arrive in Saudi Arabia for this purpose, the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, deployed to the key port and petroleum center of Al Jubayl. Offloading heavy equipment, including 53 M60A1 tanks from its dedicated Maritime Prepositioning Squadron 1, the brigade reported ready for operations on 25 August, a mere 10 days after arrival in theater and weeks ahead of any U.S. Army armored force. The battalion and the ground units of the brigade joined the 1st Marine Division upon that unit's arrival in Saudi Arabia, but remained in support of the 7th Marines regimental Task Force "Ripper." The battalion fought the four day campaign of 24-28 February 1991, and returned to the US in April.
On June First, 1992, 3d Tank Battalion disbanded as part of force reduction programs.