1st Battalion 8th Marines: The Beirut Battalion
The 1st Battalion 8th Marines is a battalion-level infantry unit composed of infantry Marines and support personnel, consisting of approximately 1.000 Marines and Sailors. The battalion is comprised of H&S Co, Alpha Co, Bravo Co, Charlie Co and Weapons Co. The 8th Marine Regiment is based at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
The mission of the Marine Infantry Battalion is to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, and to repel the enemy's assault by fire and close-combat.
Activated April 1, 1940 at San Diego, California, the 1st Battalion 8th Marines participated in the Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Okinawa World War II campaigns.
1/8 deployed during September 1945 to Nagasaki, Japan, and participated in the occupation of Japan from September 1945 – June 1946. By early 1946, 2nd Marine Division began taking over areas once occupied by soon to be deactivated Army units; 8th Marines were moved to Kumamoto and Kagoshima. They relocated during June–July 1946 to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and were deactivated November 18, 1947.
The battalion was reactivated November 1, 1950 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines and assigned to the 2nd Marine Division. It deployed to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean at various times from the 1950s through the 1990s (1958 Lebanon Crisis, 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and 1965 Dominican Republic)
The battalion participated as part of the multinational peace keeping force in Lebanon, May – November 1983. On Sunday morning at 06:22, October 23, 1983, Battalion Landing Team 1/8, the ground combat element of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit, was the main victim of what came to be known as the Beirut bombing when a truck loaded with 12,000 pounds of explosives crashed through the gates of the BLT headquarters at the airport in Beirut, Lebanon. Casualties that day were 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers killed with an additional 100 injured. The majority of these casualties were from 1/8.
In December 1990 1/8 deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield where they remained until Operation Desert Storm began in February 1991.
Between 1992 and 2000, elements of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines participated in Operation Restore Hope Somalia (1992-1993), in support of Operation Provide Promise and Operation Deny Flight in Bosnia (September – October 1993 and January 1994), and Operation Joint Guardian, among others, where elements of 1/8 deployed to Kosovo (2000).
On 5 March 2003 Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 1/8 departed Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) on board the U.S.S. Iwo Jima (LHD-7), U.S.S. Nashville (LPD-13), and U.S.S. Carter-Hall (LSD-50).
The battalion redeployed in June 2004 to Iraq as a part of Regimental Combat Team 1 and later RCT-7, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced). From June 2004 to January 2005, 1/8 conducted combat operations in Al Anbar Province in Area of Operations (AO) Denver and later AO Raleigh, including operations in Rawa, Anah, Little Anah, Haditha, Baghdadi, Barwana, Abu Buyatt, ASP Wolf, Hit, Al Asad, Haqlanyih, Karmah, Naser Wa Saleem, Abu Ghuraib, and Fallujah.
1st Battalion 8th Marines was one of the lead battalions during Operation Phantom Fury (8 November to 9 December 2004), leading the assault into Fallujah. During combat operations in Iraq from June 2004 - Jan. 2005 1st Battalion 8th Marines (Reinforced) suffered 21 Marines killed in action (KIA) and nearly 150 Marines wounded in action (WIA) with 17 KIA's and 102 WIA's coming in three weeks in Fallujah in November 2004. 1/8 conducted a relief in place with their sister battalion 3/8 and returned to Camp Lejeune by 1 February 2005.
During its 2006 deployment the 24th MEU trained in 12 different countries and conducted combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. One Marine from 1/8 Scout Sniper Platoon was killed in action and several other 1/8 Marines and a Corpsman were wounded on 1 November 2006, while conducting operations in Haditha, Iraq.
In September 2007, the battalion deployed again to Al Anbar Province to Ar-Ramadi, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion was instrumental in denying the enemy freedom of movement and as a result, violence in the war ravaged city declined.
In 2009, 1/8 deployed to Iraq again in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In August 2010, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines deployed to Musa'Qaleh and Now Zad, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 10-2, Regimental Combat Team 2, FIRST Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The unit's performance in counter-insurgency operations in the two districts were integral in the stabilization of the region and development of Afghan National Security Forces. 1st Battalion, 8th Marines suffered the loss of five Marines and one Navy Hospital Corpsman that were killed in action and numerous others wounded in action during their deployment to Helmand Province.
In January 2012, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines deployed to Afghanistan again to conduct counter-insurgency operations in Northern Helmand Province. In August, 2012, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines returned to MCB Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 1st Battalion, 8th Marines suffered four casualties, three Marines and one Navy Hospital Corpsman, in action during their deployment to Helmand Province.