|HISTORY OF THE FIRST BATTALION, FOURTH MARINES
April 1911 - April 1967
The history of the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines begins in April 1911.|
The occasion for its activation was the outbreak of revolution in
Mexico. In March, President William Howard Taft acted to support
the existing regime in Mexico by ordering concentrations of
American forces along the Mexican border and off both coasts. President
Taft's show of force was an attempt to discourage rebel activity from
overthrowing the regime of Porferio Diaz who had been friendly to
American business interests in Mexico. It was feared that if the
opposition, led by Francisco Madero, gained ascendency there would
be a reversal in Diaz' favorable policies.
On 10 March, a provisional regiment under Colonel Charles A. Doyen
was activated at Mare Island, California and sailed for San Diego
shortly thereafter. On 20 April, Doyen's command was officially
designated the 4th Provisional Regiment, U.S. Marines. The next
day Captain john N. Wright assumed command of the 1st Battalion. The
1st Battalion, therefore, came into existence on 21 April 1911 on
North Island, San Diego, the site of the 4th Marines Headquarters.
A few weeks later, Diaz was forced to resign despite American support.
The United States took no further measures. As a result the entire
4th Regiment was disbanded in June 1911.
Three years later, however, new trouble was brewing in Mexico.
Relations between the United States and Mexico had been deteriorating
for some time. Things came to a head on 9 April 1914 when an American
naval ration party was seized in Tampico. President Woodrow Wilson
decided on a show of force when no formal apology was received from
Mexican authorities. The American Army and Navy were ordered to
concentrate troops and ships off both coasts of Mexico. As a result,
the 4th Regiment was reactivated on 16 April at Puget Sound, Washington
and ordered to proceed by sea to the West Coast of Mexico.
While en route to Mexico, the 4th interrupted its journey for a stop
at Mare Island, California where Major John T. Myers assumed command
of the 1st Battalion on 21 April. The battalion along with the rest
of the 4th proceeded to the vicinity of Acapulco. Although the
regiment did not carry out any landing, it was prepared for any
eventuality. After lying off shore for a number of days, the regiment
was ordered to leave Mexican waters and to proceed to San Diego. By
the beginning of July 1914, the entire regiment had departed the West
Coast of Mexico.
In December the 1st Battalion sailed from San Diego for Mare Island.
On 16 February 1915, the battalion moved to San Francisco to set up
a model camp at the Panama-Pacific Exposition which was celebrating
the opening of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of Balboa's
discovery of the Pacific.
In November, the battalion was once again ordered to Mexican waters due
to another outbreak of civil strife. But just as in the past,
the battalion did not see any action nor was it ordered to land. The
following January the battalion was ordered home. After disembarking
at the San Francisco to pick up its gear it moved to southern California.
It finally arrived at San Diego on 18 February 1916 and rejoined the 4th
The battalion's stay in San Diego, however, was only of short duration.
Because of chaotic conditions in the Dominican Republic in 1916,
American forces, including the 4th Regiment, were ordered to that
country. On 6 June, the 1st Battalion along with the rest of the regiment
departed San Diego via train for New Orleans. On 12 June, it boarded
the USS Hancock and sailed from New Orleans for the Caribbean. Ten
days later, the battalion landed at Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic.
It would be some eight years before the battalion returned to its home
Since its original activation due to the crisis in Mexico, the men of
the 1st Battalion, 4th Regiment had yearned for action. However, each
time they were sent to the troubled waters of Mexico they were disappointed.
On this occasion there would be no disappointment.
The 1st Battalion's first skirmish with Dominican rebels came only a
few days after its disembarkation. It occurred while the battalion
was on the march to the city of Santiago. Battalion personnel showed
their worth by beating back the rebels while only suffering minor
casualties. This skirmish on the road to Santiago was only the begin-
ning of a number of small engagements between the 1st Battalion and
Dominican rebels and bandits over the next few years.
Later in the year, additional troops from the United States and Haiti
entered the country. The 4th was joined by the 3rd and 15th Marine
Regiments, which eventually formed the 2nd Marine Brigade.
The primary responsibility of the brigade was the maintenance of law
and order. It stood ready to suppress insurrections against the
military government. In addition, it performed a number of civil
functions. Units of the 1st Battalion were located in the northern
part of the Dominican Republic performing police and constabulary duty.
On a number of occasions the personnel of 1/4 were engaged in putting
down small uprisings and suppressing bandit activities.
By the summer of 1924, conditions in the country had improved sufficiently
for American military government to be terminated and American occupa-
tion forces were withdrawn. On 7 August 1924, the 1st Battalion ended
its eight years tour of duty when it departed Santo Domingo on board
the USS Henderson. Eighteen days later, the battalion arrived at the
Marine Corps Base, San Diego.
In 1926 the battalion was called upon to perform a peace
keeper function once again. This time it was in conjunction with a
domestic rather than a foreign crisis. For the second time during the
1920's the Marines were called upon to protect the U. S. mail from a lawless
element that had committed a number of mail robberies across the
country. As a result, the 4th Regiment was ordered to perform mail
guard duties. On 21 October, elements of the 1st Battalion departed
San Diego for various localities in the West to serve in the capacity
of mail guards.
Most of the battalion after the first of the New Year began moving back
to San Diego, thus ending its tour of duty as mail guards. Upon
its arrival at San Diego, the battalion was immediately ordered to
China to help protect the lives and property of Americans in the
International Settlement of Shanghai because of the Chinese Civil War
that was raging in the area. On 24 February 1927, the 4th Regiment,
less the 2nd Battalion, arrived at Shanghai on board the
USS Chaumont, thus beginning a 15 year tour of duty. Because of polit-
ical consideration, however, the regiment stayed on board the ship for
one month before it landed. Since tensions were at a peak it was
feared that the landing of additional foreign troops might be used as
a pretext for anti-foreign demonstrations. On 24 March, after protests
to the American consul by a number of American citizens that there was
a real danger to American lives and property, approval was given for
the disembarkation of the regiment. The mission assigned to the newly
arrived regiment was to help maintain internal security along with
military units from other countries by preventing warring Chinese factions
and later the Japanese from making incursions into the International
Settlement. The 4th Regiment (designated the 4th Marine on 13
February 1930) became, in effect, a part of America's permanent garrison
Until the outbreak of the Second World War the 4th Marines were, for
most of the time, the only major American force in Shanghai and, there-
fore, the only force that had the responsibility of protecting American
lives and property in the International Settlement. In 1932 and in
1937 real threats to the security of the zone precipitated the call
for reinforcements. But once these crises subsided, other forces were
withdrawn and the 4th returned to its normal routine.
By the summer of 1941, Japanese-American relations had deteriorated
to a point that many American officials in China felt that war between
the two nations was only a matter of time. Both military and civilian
government representatives petitioned Washington for the withdrawal of
exposed American forces in China. After much delay withdrawal orders
for the 4th Marines were received in the late fall of 1941. On 28
November the 1st Battalion sailed from Shanghai on board the
USS President Madison for the Philippines. A few days later, the battalion
disembarked at Olongapo, Philippine Islands. On 8 December, the day of
the initial attack by the Japanese on the Philippines, 1/4 moved to
the Naval Base at Mariveles on Bataan Peninsula. Shortly after the
Japanese began their invasion of the Philippines, the 1st Battalion moved
to the Army's island bastion of Corregidor which guarded the
entrance to Manila Bay. The entire regiment, which by this time had
been reinforced by miscellaneous units, representing all U. S. and
Philippine armed services, set about preparing beach defenses.
Throughout the winter and early spring the island endured enemy bombardment.
After the fall of Bataan on 9 April 1942, it was apparent that Corregidor
would not be able to hold out and would also succumb to the Japanese
onslaught. On the night of 5/6 May 1942, the Japanese assaulted the beaches
of the island's narrow tip. The 1st Battalion, 4th Marines bore the
brunt of the Japanese thrust. Heavy fighting continued throughout
the night into the morning as the Marines' strong points smashed by
a heavy artillery preparation, were reduced one by one. As the rem-
nants of the battalion and its reinforcing elements from the 4th
Marines reserves fell back toward Malinta Hill, enemy tanks began
landing. It was then decided by Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright,
American commander in the Philippines, and his staff that further
resistance by American and Filipino forces was useless.
At noon on 6 May 1942 all resistance ended.
With the fall of Corregidor the 1st Battalion,
along with the entire 4th Marines temporarily,
CEASED TO EXIST.
Almost two years later, the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines was reborn on
Guadalcanal when it was designated from the 1st Battalion, 1st Raider
Regiment on 1 February 1944. Early in 1944 plans were formulated for
the organization of a 1st Provisional Marine Brigade which was to
consist of two reinforced regiments. The 22nd Marines was to be one
of the regiments and the other would be a new 4th Marines which would
bear the name and honors of the regiment that was captured on
Corregidor. The first assignment that the new 1st Battalion, 4th
Marines received was to take part in the proposed seizure of Emirau
Island. On 19 March the 1st and 2nd Battalions landed unopposed on the
island; the Japanese had evacuated it earlier.
After returning to Guadalcanal, the 4th Marines began preparing for its
next objective - GUAM. On 31 May 1944 it sailed for Guam. The 4th
Marines, as part of the 1st Provisional Brigade, became a component of
the III Amphibious Corps. The 4th was assigned the southern beaches
in the Agat-Bangi area of the island. On 21 July the 1st and 2nd
Battalions landed in assault against the enemy. After meeting some
initial light resistance, 1/4 began to push inland. Five days
after D-Day and its seizure of the high ground behind the beached, the
4th Marines started moving to help take the brigade's next objective
Orote Peninsula. With the 4th Marines attacking from the left and the 22nd
Marines attacking on the right helped by armored reinforcements from the
Army's 77th Infantry Division, the 1st Brigade captured the peninsula after
four days of heavy fighting. This battle secured a valuable airfield
and freed Apra Harbor for use by American ships. For its part in the
battle, the 4th Marines shared a Navy Unit commendation with the other
elements of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade.
Following the seizure of Orote Peninsula, the 4th and 22nd Marines were
ordered to begin patrol operations to the south. In the later stages
of the campaign, 7-10 August, the brigade was committed to the main
III Corps' attack in northern Guam. After the island was secured, 1/4
engaged in routine mopping-up operations. Toward the end of the month,
it began moving back to Guadalcanal. On Guadalcanal, the 4th Marines
joined the newly activated 6th Marine Division which was the successor
of the 1st Provisional Brigade.
From September 1944 to March 1945, the 1st Battalion was occupied in
intensive training for the proposed invasion of Okinawa. By mid-March
the battalion had departed for its objective. On 1 April its men
along with thousands of other American forces, landed practically
unopposed. The 1st Battalion advanced quite rapidly after its landing.
Resistance encountered at first was only minor, however this was only
temporary. By mid-April the men of 1/4 found themselves engaged in
very difficult and often times heavy fighting on Motobu Peninsula in
northern Okinawa. On 15 April Major Bernard W. Green, the battalion
CO, was killed in a successful enemy ambush.
After the 6th Division secured northern Okinawa it moved south in
early May to take part in the main Tenth Army attack. In a series of
hard fought battles at Sugar Loaf Hill, on the outskirts of Naha, in
the ship to shore assault and capture f Oroku Peninsula, and the
southern tip of the island, the battalion suffered 940 casualties.
One who symbolized the courage of every Marine was Corporal RICHARD
E. BUSH of Company C, 1/4. On 16 April 1945, while BUSH was receiving
treatment at an aid station for a severe wound that he suffered during
combat and enemy grenade fell among the wounded. Corporal BUSH quickly
drew it to his body to save the others thus causing additional wounds
For his valor he was awarded the MEDAL OF HONOR.
In early July the battalion returned once again to Guam to start
preparing for the probable invasion of Japan. However the surrender of
Japan canceled all such plans. Immediately following the surrender
the 4th Marines sailed for occupation duty in Japan. On 30 August 1945,
1/4 landed at Yososuka, Japan and occupied the airfield at the naval
The 1st Battalion remained in Japan until December 1945 when it sailed
for the United States.
Upon its arrival in San Francisco, it was DEACTIVATED on 29 December 1945.
Less than three months later it came back into existence with the
designation of the 2nd Battalion, 29th Marines to 1/4 at Tsingtao,
China on 8 March 1946. There, the battalion was engaged in helping in
the repatriation of Japanese military personnel and civilians and in
providing security for an American naval base. Once again the 1st
Battalion was stationed in China, however this tour would be only of
a short duration. On 3 September it departed and sailed from China
for the East C oast of the United States.
On 1 October 1946 it arrived via the Panama Canal at Camp LeJeune,
North Carolina where it was greatly reduced in strength by the discharge
of veterans. The next summer saw an increase in strength
with the influx of new recruits. A few months later the 1st
Battalion again went out of existence. On 18 November 1947, 1/4 was
designated the 4th Marines.
Because of the conflict in Korea, 1/4 was reactivated on 2 September
1952 at Camp Pendleton, California. For the next eleven months the 1st
Battalion remained in California. In early August 1953, it left for
Japan arriving at Kobe on 24 August. The unit left immediately by
train for Camp Nara where it remained for almost a year and a half.
On 25 January 1955 the men of 1/4 embarked and sailed on board the
USS Talledega for Hawaii. Ten days later the battalion reached its
destination and new home, Marine Corps Air Station at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu.
With the arrival of the entire regiment in Hawaii, the 4th Marine Regiment
became the ground component of the newly organized 1st Provisional Marine
Air/Ground Task Force, later designated as the 1st Marine Brigade.
The 1st Battalion, 4th Marines as part of the 1st Brigade embarked
upon an intensive training schedule. It was essential for the brigade
to preserve the highest possible level of combat capability because
the brigade was maintained as a force-in-readiness for immediate
potential crises in the Pacific.
Because of the limited land space on Oahu, most maneuvers were conducted
on the outer islands of the Hawaiian group. The battalion with other
ground elements of the brigade also moved twice a year to the island
of Hawaii for a month of training at Pohakuloa. Where 60,000 acres was
leased by the Army, it was the only maneuver area where all elements
of the brigade could engage in all-around combat support exercises.
In addition, while based at Kaneohe Bay, the battalion participated in
amphibious exercises in California.
One such exercise, Operation GREEN LIGHT in 1961, was one of the largest
peacetime maneuvers in recent Marine Corps history. The 1st Battalion's
role was that of an aggressor unit. It asiled on board the USS
Navarro Long Beach, California on 21 March. While at sea orders
were received to turn about and head for the Western
Pacific. This change in destination was caused by the crisis in Laos,
where Communist forces were threatening to seize control.
In early April the battalion arrived at Buckner Bay, Okinawa. Its
stay was only of a very brief duration. Again it was ordered to pro-
ceed to California in connection with Operation GREEN LIGHT. Finally,
on 29 April, 1/4 arrived at Long Beach to perform its assigned role in
After the completion of GREEN LIGHT in June, the battalion arrived
home at Kaneohe Bay once again. The 1st Battalion had an essential
part in the exercise, and its performance. It was complimented by Major
General Samuel S. Jack, Commanding General of the V Marine Expeditionary
Force. In expressing his appreciation for the battalion's contribution,
he stated that without it, 'the operation would have lost much of
After ten years in the Hawaiian Islands, the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines
was ordered to return to the Far East once again, on this occasion it was
deployed to Okinawa. With the intensification of the American
involvement in the war in Viet Nam, this island bastion was becoming
a major military staging area for the war. The purpose of the move
of 1/4 to Okinawa was to strengthen American forces in the Far East
with a possible deployment to the Republic of Viet Nam. On 14 March
1965, it embarked on board the USS Valley Forge and sailed from Oahu.
Eleven days later, the 1st Battalion arrived at Camp Schwab, Okinawa.
A little over a month after it arrived, the battalion began its move
to the troubled waters off Viet Nam. On 28 April 1965 the unit sailed
from Buckner Bay, Okinawa on board the USS Princeton, arriving at Chu
Lai, Republic of Viet Nam, on 7 May for duty as part of the 3rd
Marine Division of the III Marine Amphibious Force. Upon its arrival
the battalion began conducting patrol operations in the vicinity of
Throughout January 1966 it was engaged along with the 2nd Battalion, 4th
Marines in search and clear missions in the area. During the
following month, the 1st Battalion completed the pacification of Hy
Hoa Peninsula and coordinated all defenses of the vital areas on the
penisnula. It also devoted much of its effort at this time to pro-
tecting the local populace, training native forces, directing civic
action programs, and effecting population control in coordination with
the local government. A number of personnel from 1/4 soon became
involved in the Combined Action Companies program in which small Marine
units were integrated with Vietnamese militia (Popular Forces) to pro-
tect liberated villages and hamlets.
After more than a year and a half in Viet Nam, the 1st Battalion, 4th
Marines departed from Hue on 15 December 1966 for Okinawa to regroup
and retrain new replacements. During their tour of duty member of
the battalion distinguished themselves at Chu Lai, Da Nang, Phu Bai,
and Dong Ha. In such operations as STARLIGHT, PRAIRIE and HASTINGS, in
which they fought with Viet Cong guerrillas and main force units and
help to thwart North Vietnamese penetration of the area south of the
Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). As a result of its action in this operation the
battalion shared with 2/4 and 3/4 in the award of the 'Vietnamese Cross
of Gallantry with Palm' for "outstanding bravery."
The stay on Okinawa was short, only a month long. On 26 January 1967,
1/4 again sailed for Viet Nam.
On 16 February, 1/4 as the Special Landing Force executed an amphibious
landing and a vertical assault in Sa Huynh, Quang Ngai Province, Republic
of Viet Nam. This was the first phase of Operation DECKHOUSE VI.
For eleven days the unit operated in this area and then embarked on
board naval vessels and moved north. On 27 February, as part of the
second phase, the battalion made a second amphibious landing, this
time in the Duc Pho District. With the completion of this phase in
early March 1st Battalion embarked on board ships in the area.
On 2 April 1967, the 1st Battalion, 4th Marines was reassigned to the
operational and administrative control of the 3rd Marine Division and
entered the Republic of Viet Nam at Quang Tri and commenced operations
against the enemy.
The above information was provided by
LONNIE 'RED' YOUNG
C. Co. 1/4, 1969
History and Museum Division
Headquarters Marine Corps, Wash. D.C.