ITEM CO. 3/3
Camp Pendleton

The nucleus of the Third Marine Division was formed in June of 1951 with the activation of the Third Marine Brigade. Brig Gen Lewis B. Puller assumed command, of the Third Marine Brigade, shortly after its activation.

We had just completed Advances Combat Training in The 6th Infantry Training Bn. at Tent Camp 3½ and on 21 July, 1951 we were transferred to H&S Co. 1st Bn 3rd Marines 3rd Marine Brigade FMF and then on 14 Aug., 1951 about 85 of us plus Capt. Davis and Sgt. Hunt formed Item Co. 3rd Bn 3rd Marines 3rd Marine Brigade FMF. We stayed at Tent Camp 3½ in the top row of tents until 23 Jan., 1953 when we left for 6 months at MCAS Kaneohe, Oahu, T.H.. Tent Camp 3½ (now Camp Talega) is located just past the end of Basilone road, in Sam Mateo Canyon. I think that it was when we came into the 3rd Marine Brigade that we got indoor toilet facilities, no more slit trench, outdoor showers, or cold water shaving. The tents were heated with cole oil heaters and they had one small electric light. The mess hall was a field unit and we had to wash our mess gear in coal oil heated GI cans after each meal. The 'slop shoot' was at the other side of Tent Camp 3, about a mile away. we had an outdoor theater and they sometimes had movies but they were old old movies. Our main activity was to climb 'Old Smoky' and it never got any shorter.

When the 3rd Marine Division was formally reactivated on January 7, 1952, Major General M. B. Twining was named as Commander, General Puller as Assistant Division Commander, and the rebuilding campaign started. Maj Gen Robert H. Pepper took over the Division on February 15 1952.

Then came Division field exercises, basic training in amphibious techniques, and constant field training for all units. To put it briefly, we climbed 'Old Smoky' some more.

On 10 Feb. 1952 we embarked on the USS LENAWEE (APA 195) at San Diego, CA. for LEX-BAKER-1, the first full-scale joint Marine-Navy training maneuver to be held on the West Coast since 1949. The cargo that they loaded aboard the USS LENAWEE included: 22 ea. ¼ ton trucks, 23 ea. ¼ ton trailers, sea. ¼ ton ambulances, sea ¼ ton AN/MRC, sea 1½ ton trucks, 10 ea. ¾ ton ambulance, 2 ea. gen. 37.5 KVA trailer, 1 ea sterilizer and bath trailer, 1 ea. gen. 9 KVA trailer, 1 ea shower unit trailer, 1 ea. grease unit, 2 ea laundry trailers, 1 ea trailer KPCV, 1 ea distill unit, 1 ea. 1 ton trailers, 3 ea water trailers, 2 ea 2½ ton trucks, 1 ea. Gen K-52, total 264608 lbs. The troops included 103 officers and 828 enlisted. We sailed on 14 Feb., 1952., and maid a practice landing on Feb. 15 and returned to the ship that day. On Feb. 16 the ships had an anti aircraft firing maneuver. They hit the cable pulling the target and it crashed but I dint think that they hit the target. I think that it was this exercize that we witnessed an IOWA class battleship firing at San Clemente Island. On 22 Feb., 1952, the ship anchored at Aliso canyon we assaulted Aliso beach at Camp Joseph H. Pendleton.

In May, some of the members of Item Company participated in an atom bomb tests "Operation Tumbler/Snapper" as part of the 1st Provisional Marine Battalion, Marine Corp provisional exercise unit camp at Desert Rock, Yuacc Flata Navada. This was probably the "Dog" shot on May 1, 1952, 19 Kiloton. airdrop. height of burst 1040 ft.

In August, units of the 3rd Marine Regiment journeyed to Washington and staged a spectacular amphibious landing on Lake Washington during Seattle's Centennial "Sea Fair" celebration. I don't think that Item Co. participated in the "Sea Fair" Celebration.

September brought AIRLEX-1, near Hawthorne Nevada. The exercise was cut short for an unscheduled draft to Korea. In this exercise, our company was designated as the Aggressor Unit (bad guys) and we were flown from Camp Pendleton ,in flying 'Box Cars' R-4-Q's that rattled like a model 'T' Ford, to the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hawthorn, NV. The exercise was the first operation of it's kind ever attempted by the Marine Corps, a unique maneuver to demonstrate the use of the"airhead" sequel to the" beachhead" of WW II. The first phase used Navy Flying Boats out of San Diego, landing on Walker Lake and embarking Marine rifle companies by rubber boats to shore. From our prepared camouflaged position in the rugged mountains surrounding Walker Lake, military umpires ruled that we, the Aggressors, destroyed over 50% of the landing force before it reached shore. The next phase was an assault force by helicopters from the Marine Air Station, El Toro, bringing in troops. They succeeded and we were reduced to conducting night raids in the mountains. Finally they"wiped us out", and the maneuvers were terminated. We pulled liberty while we were in Hawthorne.

On 2 Oct., 1952, BLT 3/3 embarked on the USS LOGAN (APA 196) at San Diego, CA. As part of Task Force 16 and sailed on 3 Oct., 1952, for field maneuver PHIBEX-1. The troops on the Logan included H&S Co. BLT 3/3, Wpns Co. BLT 3/3, Co. "G" BLT 3/3, Co. "H" BLT 3/3, Co. "I" BLT 3/3, Det 3rd SP Bn 3rd Mars, Det MP Co. 3rd Mar Div, Det Co. "A" 3rd Eng Bn 3rd Mar Div, Det Sig Co.3rd Mar Div., Det. Co. "A" 3rd MT Bn 3rd Mar Div, Det 4.2 Mortor Co 3rd Mar 3rd Mar Div, Det HQ Bn 3rd Mar Div FMF, Det. "C" Btry 1st Bn 12th Mar 3rd Mar Div, Det Anglico 3rd Sig Bn 3rd Mar Div, Det 1st Evac Hosp FMF, Det AT Co 3rd Mar 3rd Mar Div, Det "C" Co 3rd Med Bn 3rd Mar Div, and Det H&S Co 3rd Mar 3rd Mar Div. We made a rehearsal landing, that was delayed because of fog, on 6 October and returned to the USS Logan that day. We assaulted the beaches at Aliso Canyon, Camp Joseph H. Pendleton, 10 Oct., 1952 and drove deep into Pendleton during the largest maneuvers, held by the division to date.

The climax of the Division's first year came on November 7th the Ground-Air Combat review that exhibited its might before some 10,000 spectators. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr., took the review and afterward inspected the training activities of the Division. The Commandant formally presented the colors of the 3rd Marine Division to Gen Pepper. Colors of the Third Marines were received by Col Robert H. Williams.

Then, all through December, units of the Division were busy with FEX-1, the mammoth maneuver that put the entire, Division in the field at the new Marine Corps Training Center near Twenty-nine Palms, California. In a huge motor march, the Division was trucked to and from the desert site 140 miles from Camp Pendleton. This maneuver was a retrograde maneuver that lasted three days and we got plenty of exercise. The second special event was a battalion exercise at the Marine Base 29 Palms, CA in which our infantry battalion made a night airlift, using over 60 helicopters at the same time, the first time that many choppers had ever been used in night operations. The days were very warm and at night all of our drinking water would freeze and this was before sleeping bags so we would freeze also.

3rd Bn (Reinf.) 3rd Marines formed Battalion Landing Team 3/3. BLT 3/3 and Marine Air Group 13 including the Black Sheep Squadron and the Death Angels Squadron became part of Brig. Gen. James P. Riseley's 1st Marine Provisional Air ground Task Force. The 3rd Bn (Reinf.) includes artillery, tank, shore party, motor transport, engineer, service, ordinance, medical and signal units. We boarded The USS CAVALIER (APA 37) 23 Jan., 1953, departed San Diego on 25 Jan., 1953, arrived Pearl Harbor 31 Jan., 1953 and went to MCAS Kaneohe, Oahu, T.H. to continue training.

Contact ITEM Co 3rd MARINES 1951-54
Home          Return          Next Page