At Marine Corps Base Hawaii, an infantry battalion with a storied World War II history deactivated Jan. 13, the same day an aviation refueling squadron reactivated after a 64-year hiatus.
Although these units are under different organizational structures, both changes are tied to Force Design 2030, the Pacific-focused restructuring of the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps is working to become more agile and less traceable in a potential conflict, especially against the technologically sophisticated Chinese military.
The infantry unit 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, withdrew as part of a reorganization within the 3rd Marine Division, according to a division news release. In March 2022, the division’s 3rd Marine Regiment became the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, which will be the first unit to serve as a “support force,” dispersed within China’s attack range.
Another infantry battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, was deactivated in January 2022, also due to the transition to the 3rd Littoral Marine Infantry Regiment.
Marine Air Refueling Transport Squadron 153, abbreviated VMGR-153, was raised in large part to provide more logistical support to the Hawaii-based 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, per the Marine Corps 2022 aviation plan. The squadron has two KC-130J cargo planes and plans to have 15 by fiscal 2026, according to Stars and Stripes.
The KC-130J planes will transport troops and refuel MV-22 Osprey helicopters that belong to two tiltrotor squadrons in Hawaii, Stars and Stripes reported.
VMGR-153 is part of Marine Aircraft Group 24, a component of the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing.
Both the deactivated infantry unit, known as the “United States Battalion,” and the activated aviation squadron have a long history dating back to World War II.
In 1942, the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines was activated and played a key role in the Battle of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands the following year. He later fought on Guam and Iwo Jima, according to the 3rd Marine Division statement.
Its Marines have also been deployed in the Gulf War, the war in Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan.
“Although the battalion colors will be retired on January 13 and monitors will disperse Marines and Sailors throughout the service, the memory of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines will never fade,” said Lt. Col. Félix Guerra III, unit commander. in the press release.
Guerra noted that the unit had been temporarily disabled twice before.
VMGR-153 was also deployed in World War II, transporting people and supplies in the Pacific Theater.
Irene Loewenson is a reporter for the Marine Corps Times. She joined the Military Times as an Editorial Fellow in August 2022. She graduated from Williams College, where she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.