Famed 8th Regiment is deactivated by Marine Corps

by WorldTribune Staff, February 2, 2021

As part of a plan to reshape the Marine Corps into a “more efficient, maritime-centric operation force,” the legendary 8th Marine Regiment was deactivated in a ceremony on Jan. 28 at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

The deactivation marks the “transition of a storied regiment that has performed so well since 1917,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, the commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division.

U.S. Marine Corps Infantry Assault Marines with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division take cover behind a breachers blanket during a breaching training exercise at Camp Lejeune. / Kassie L. McDole / Marine Corps

“The transition this time is part of our overall look and the Commandant’s force design to create organizations and units prepared for the future fight. It’s just a natural transition that we go through as we contract or expand the Marine Corps in certain locations and places, either by skillset or by geographical location, that fits with force design,” Donovan said.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger plans to build the Corps into an agile, island-hopping force focused on China. Berger said he wants the Corps’ ground combat force slimmed from 24 to 21 active infantry battalions and seven regimental headquarters units by 2030.

The 8th Marines Regimental headquarters has participated several major conflicts over the last two centuries, including World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Operation Desert Shield. It has been deactivated three times since its 1917 establishment: In 1919, 1925 and 1949. It reactivated in 1950 and remained active until the ceremony.

“The regiment was formally organized in 1917 before America’s involvement in World War I in Quantico, Virginia, and has seen plenty of action in the years since. Its lineage includes fights with bandits in Haiti in 1920, heavy combat in the jungles of the Pacific during World War II, and peacekeeping duties in Lebanon during the 1980s,” Task & Purpose noted in a Jan. 31 report.

The 8th Regiment suffered a “devastating loss” on Oct. 23, 1983, after a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into a Marine compound in Beirut occupied by the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment. The blast killed 241 American service members, including 220 Marines, marking the worst single-day loss for the Marine Corps since the bloody battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. President Ronald Reagan pulled the Marines from Lebanon the following year.

Despite the deactivation of the unit, the Marine Corps said two of the 8th Regiment’s three infantry battalions “will carry on its name and continue the fight.”

Marines and Sailors from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, now belong to the 6th Marine Regiment and currently serve as the battalion landing team for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit; and 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, now falls under 2nd Marine Regiment. However, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, will deactivate following its return from its Unit Deployment Program rotation to Okinawa, Japan.

Remaining troops from the deactivated regiment will either move to other units, be assigned new military career fields or opt to transition out of the Marine Corps, officials said.

“They can take with them the 8th Marine Regiment‘s fighting spirit and go on and do good things in the Marine Corps,” said Keith D. Hoge, the regiment‘s sergeant major. “I hope that we’ve made them proud.”

Task & Purpose editor in chief Paul Szoldra noted that the 8th Marine Regiment may have been deactivated, but “it may not be goodbye forever. A close reading of the 8th Marine Regiment’s history shows it’s been deactivated several times, only to be reactivated to deal with a new crisis. So hang on to those colors bearing the motto ‘more than duty.’ You never know when they might be needed again.”

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