MORON AIR BASE, Spain - “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” – famous lyrics penned in recognition of the U.S. Marine Corps’ globally engaged history. Today’s Corps remains dedicated to upholding that history and tradition, and there is no unit more engaged in doing so than the 8th Marine Regiment.
Eighth Marine Regiment was formed Oct. 9, 1917, at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., during the buildup for World War I. Their first foray into international waters came against the Cacos bandits in 1920 when the regiment was sent to Haiti. Historical accounts describe how 8th Marines emerged victorious through systematic patrolling and a number of brief clashes, eventually eliminating the Haitian bandit threat.
Over the course of the next few decades, 8th Marine Regiment found itself involved in the Pacific campaign of World War II, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a part of the modern Global War on Terrorism, 8th Marines participated in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Today, the regiment, known by its collective call sign “Workhorse,” has Marines and sailors spread to every corner of the globe. From their home at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to the islands of Japan, from the Black Sea to the Spanish and Italian coasts, from the Afghanistan desert to the continent of Africa and even back to the shores of Tripoli, 8th Marines is forward deployed in support of her nation’s defense.
The regimental headquarters is currently split between its home station at Camp Lejeune and a deployed location at Moron Air Base, Spain. As the command element for Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response, a slice of the regimental headquarters commands and controls air, ground and logistics command elements to provide U.S. Africa Command with a rapidly deployable solution to a broad range of crises.
“In coordination with the Department of State and other government agencies, we operate within a new normal framework to protect United States citizens, U.S. interests and critical infrastructure,” said Col. Kenneth DeTreux, the commanding officer for 8th Marine Regiment and SP-MAGTF Crisis Response. “Simultaneously, we work and train with our African and European partners to build relationships through theater security cooperation, bilateral and mil-to-mil training exercises; all of which ultimately support our mutual, shared security partnerships and interests in the region.”
As part of the task organization of the SP-MAGTF, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines is internationally engaged, with troops in Spain, Italy, Romania, as well as various locations on the African continent.
“As the first to use the single sourcing concept, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines deployed elements in support of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa14.1, a security force to a U.S. Embassy, Black Sea Rotational Force 14.2, and a ground combat element and force protection company for SP-MAGTF Crisis Response,” said Lt. Col. Trevor Hall, the battalion commander for 3rd Bn., 8th Marines.
Casting a net over so many geographically separated locations with a diversity of mission types is no easy task for a command, but 3rd Bn., 8th Marines has handled the job superbly.
“These five missions were previously sourced by separate commands. Forward deployed Special Purpose MAGTFs will assume a greater role in crisis response and generate greater capacity for forward presence in more locations,” said Hall. “These organizations are tailored to conduct security cooperation activities with partner nations in order to develop interoperability, facilitate access, build defense and security relationships, gain regional understanding, and position for immediate response to episodic crises.”
In the western Pacific, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines is in Okinawa, Japan, as a part of their Unit Deployment Program. As part of the National Security Strategy’s “pivot to the Pacific,” the UDP provides the battalion an opportunity to forward deploy and conduct training while simultaneously building relationships with our Pacific partners. Bilateral and mil-to-mil exercises occur across various locations around the Pacific to include: South Korea, the Philippines and Mongolia.
“We are serving as ambassadors of our nation,” said Capt. Christopher D. Winn, the Bravo Company commander from 1st Bn., 8th Marines. “We train and partner with several foreign militaries to enhance the capabilities of our own Marines and those of our allies in this important part of the world.”
While building strong working relations with foreign partners is often critical to mission success for Marines, domestic training will always be a staple of unit development. As such, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, is conducting its spring training at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Coincidentally nicknamed “America’s Battalion,” 2nd Bn., 8th Marines is partnered together with several units from Camp Lejeune for participation in the Network Integration Evaluation Exercise with the Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. The battalion returned from Afghanistan in November 2013 and is scheduled to deploy again in early 2015 into the EUCOM/AFRICOM area of operations. 2nd Bn., 8th Marines stands poised and ready to forward deploy and respond once again when our nation calls.
As a part of the Operation Enduring Freedom deployment cycle, 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, also an organic battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment, recently returned home from Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In support of OEF, 1st Bn., 9th Marines, known as the “Walking Dead,” conducted numerous operations while working with their Afghan partners to ensure the continued security and stability of Afghanistan.
“It is an honor to be part of the Corps' history of combat service in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Corey Collier, the battalion commander for 1st Bn., 9th Marines. “The Marines of the Walking Dead performed superbly. Their actions in a difficult fight honored the Marine Corps, the nation, and the Deadwalkers that have built the legacy of this battalion.”
First Bn., 9th Marines deployment is a particularly unique one, which closes several chapters in both American history and their own. After nearly 13 years spent fighting the insurgent networks that had dug themselves into the Afghan landscape, the U.S. will soon be completing a withdrawal that has the Walking Dead as one of the last Marine units to leave the region. This very closely coincides with the battalion’s own deactivation, bringing a temporary conclusion to the storied infantry unit.
“As we close this chapter in our unit's history, we begin writing the final chapter of the battalion's active service,” said Collier. “On 29 August 2014, the Battalion's deactivation ceremony occurs at Camp Lejeune. At some point in the future when the nation needs this battalion, the Walking Dead will rise again and answer the nation's call as it did in 2007. It was an honor to be a part of it and we were privileged to be a subordinate battalion to the historic 8th Marines.”
From every corner of the globe, you will find Marines and sailors of the 8th Marine Regiment deployed and engaged. Whether training or conducting exercises with our partner Nation forces or responding to crisis in trouble spots around the world, 8th Marines stands ready. To them, it’s more than duty. The sun never sets on Workhorse.