MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
In response to the overwhelming stress placed upon units deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, the Marine Corps reactivates units.
The 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion was reactivated Monday during a ceremony at 3rd CEB’s headquarters area.
“As of November 5, we’re considered on deck and fully operational,” said 1st Sgt. Manuel Colon, Alpha Company first sergeant, 3rd CEB. “The Marines are definitely ready and eager to deploy.”
The battalion was first formed in September 1942 as 1st Battalion, 19th Marine Regiment. Two years later, they were re-designated the 3rd Engineer Battalion.
Since its creation, the battalion has deployed in support of every major conflict the Marine Corps has played a role in. They have been deployed throughout the western Pacific and have been tested time and again both under fire and in times of tranquility.
During peacetime, 3rd CEB has deployed in support of the 4th and 9th Marine Regiments participating in the Philippines, Tinian, Thailand, Korea, the Marianas Islands and mainland Japan.
Throughout the years, the battalion’s main emphasis has been mobility, counter-mobility and survivability training to ensure a peak degree of combat readiness. During the 1980s and ‘90s, 3rd CEB’s mission also focused on disaster relief, humanitarian assistance and civic action operations.
The entire battalion participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, providing much needed support in a variety of facets throughout the Persian Gulf.
In 1995, 3rd CEB was deactivated. Their numbers were dispersed to other combat engineers units throughout the Marine Corps. The battalion was renamed Combat Engineer Company and was folded into Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.
Now, 12 years later, the Marines and sailors of 3rd CEB are ready to carry on the legacy of their battalion that was bought with blood, sweat and determination.
So far, only Alpha Company has been completely formed. The entire battalion will be fully operational in 2009.
“This is a strange situation – to stand up a company without support from a battalion headquarters,” said Capt. Chad Morgan, Alpha Company commanding officer, 3rd CEB. “It’s kind of eye-opening to see all of this happening. You never really realize how much work it takes to stand up a company until you do it.”
Since they were fully established Oct. 1, 3rd CEB has worked nonstop to prepare themselves for any situation. Every Marine and sailor has completed several annual-training requirements, like the gas chamber and the rifle range. The battalion is currently mastering their combat engineer craft in military occupational specialty skills training.
“Since we got reactivated, we’ve been in the field almost nonstop,” said Colon. “There’s really no room for error – no room to slack off. We’re ready to strap on the pack and get going.”
Monday was the official day of 3rd CEB’s activation. The battalion guideon was passed to Morgan by Colon. Morgan unfurled the colors and returned them to the company color bearer.
“We’re having this ceremony to celebrate the company being formed today,” said Morgan. “We’ve come a long way in such a short amount of time. All of this really reflects on the work the Marines have done to make this happen.
“Our activation relieves the deployment stress of other combat engineer units,” he added. “By getting us in the rotation cycle, which will give other Marines more time at home with their families.”
At the end of the ceremony, Morgan addressed and thanked the distinguished guests for their attendance, then addressed the company.
“Marines, we’ve come a long way since we were formed,” he said. “You should all be very proud of what you have done here.”
The commanding officers of 1st CEB and 1st Tank Battalion, Lieutenant Colonels Wayne Sinclair and Jim Stopa, along with Maj. Lee Rush, executive officer of 1st Tanks, attended the ceremony. Morgan stated both units have provided tremendous support to 3rd CEB during the activation process.
We’re very excited for them and we’re very proud of the relationship we’ve established with them,” said Rush. “We’re happy to come out here today and share some of the celebration with them.”
Stopa added 1st Tanks has been more than happy to “help the seeds blossom” for 3rd CEB.
Sinclair commented on not only how proud he is of 3rd CEB, but also the importance of their activation.
“While 3rd CEB won’t be as large as a normal CEB, they will be able to fill that void of support for the regiments and the other CEBs,” he said.
The Marines and sailors of Alpha Company, 3rd CEB, will get their wish and will enter the deployment cycle early next year.