At Marine Corps Base Hawaii, an infantry battalion with a storied World War II history deactivated Jan. 13, the same day that an aviation refueling squadron reactivated after a 64-year hiatus.
Although these units are under different organizational structures, both changes are tied to Force Design 2030, the Pacific-focused restructuring of the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is working to become more nimble and less trackable in a potential conflict, especially against the technologically sophisticated Chinese military.
Infantry unit 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, folded as part of a reorganization within the 3rd Marine Division, according to a division news release. In March 2022, the division’s 3rd Marine Regiment became the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, which will be the first unit to serve as a “stand-in-force,” dispersed within China’s striking range.
Another infantry battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, was deactivated in January 2022, also because of the transition to the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment.
Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 153, abbreviated VMGR-153, was stood up in large part to provide more logistical support for the Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, according to the Marine Corps’ 2022 aviation plan. The squadron has two KC-130J cargo planes and plans to have 15 by fiscal year 2026, according to Stars and Stripes.
The KC-130J planes will transport troops and refuel, in midair, the MV-22 Osprey helicopters that belong to two tiltrotor squadrons in Hawaii, Stars and Stripes reported.
VMGR-153 is part of Marine Aircraft Group 24, a component of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
Both the deactivated infantry unit, known as “America’s Battalion,” and the activated aviation squadron have long histories stretching back to World War II.
In 1942 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines activated and played a key role in the Battle of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands the next year. It later fought in Guam and Iwo Jima, according to the 3rd Marine Division release.
Its Marines also deployed in the Gulf War, the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.
“Although the battalion’s colors will fold on 13 January and the monitors will disperse the Marines and Sailors throughout the service, the memory of 3d Battalion, 3d Marines will never be extinguished,” Lt. Col. Felix Guerra III, the unit’s commander, said in the news release.
Guerra noted that the unit had been temporarily deactivated twice previously.
VMGR-153 also was deployed in World War II, transporting people and supplies in the Pacific Theater.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.