CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan --
Marines, Sailors and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force service members came together to celebrate the 3rd Marine Division’s 73rd anniversary Sept. 4, 2015 at Camp Courtney.
The division’s mission is to execute amphibious assault operations with support from aviation and logistics units. The Marines have conducted amphibious landings and sustained land operations ashore since the battles of the Pacific during World War II.
"The anniversary is the unit coming to life,” said Marine Sgt. Dominique J. Williams, a motor transportation chief with 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
The “Fighting Third” was officially activated during the early days of World War II at Camp Elliot in San Diego. Almost immediately, the division deployed for combat operations, participating in famous battles – such as Guam and Iwo Jima – earning the nickname the “Fighting Third” for its warfighting prowess and historical battlefield success.
The unit was deactivated on completion of WWII only to be reactivated for combat in the Korean War. Continuing the fight, the division participated in the Vietnam War where they remained in constant combat for four years. The “Fighting Third” made its home in Camp Courtney, Okinawa, where it has remained forward deployed ever since.
“From Guadalcanal to Vietnam there’s been a lot of great, honorable people who came out of this division,” said Lance Cpl. Richard A. Diaz, a help desk technician with Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “Just being a part of this history is amazing.”
The division’s held a cake-cutting ceremony in honor of its 73rd birthday and long-lived history.
“The cake-cutting ceremony is a small symbol showing we still care about this unit by honoring its birthday every year,” said Williams.
The commanding general of 3rd Marine Division shared his thoughts on the rich history of the unit and its Marines with guests during the ceremony.
“I’m extremely honored to be the 66th commanding general of this division with such a tremendous combat heritage, which includes 42 Medal of Honor recipients,” said Maj. Gen. Richard L. Simcock II, commanding general of 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. “The actions of the young Marines and Sailors of this division continue to maintain the spirit of the triad: valor, honor and fidelity; they are the strength of the caltrop nation.”