The 4th Marine Regiment was first activated in April 1914 as part of the Marine Corps' Advances Base Force. The regiment was deployed to the Dominican Republic the following year for a peacekeeping duty that lasted ten years. The 4th Marines were reassigned to San Diego in 1924. Two years later, the regiment was assigned to mail guard duty in the western United States. In early 1927, it sailed for Shanghai. Their principal mission: to protect American lives and property. Despite periodic outbreaks of internal disorder, most of the 4th Marines' 14-year tour in China was a relatively peaceful garrison duty. In late 1941, war loomed in the Far East. On November 28, the era of the China Marines ended, as the last of the regiment set sail for the Philippines.
They arrived on December 1 and were assigned to protect the naval station at Olongapo and nearby Mariveles. Seven days later, Japanese troops landed in Luzon and the 4th Marines were placed under U.S. Army control and subsequently assigned to defend the island fortress of Corregidor, which guards the entrance to Manila Bay. Over the next four months, the 4th Marines grew from a two-battalion regiment to one of five battalions, in the process becoming one of the oldest units in Marine Corps history. As defensive positions fell and units disintegrated, stragglers from the U.S. Army and Navy, as well as small Filipino units were assigned to it. Resistance on the Bataan Peninsula ended on April 9. This permitted Japanese artillery to concentrate on Corregidor. Landing craft began moving toward the island the evening of May 5. At noon the next day, Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, commander of U.S. Forces in the Philippines, surrendered. The 4th Marines burned their colors and -- temporarily -- ceased to exist.
The regiment was reborn in February 1944, when it was reconstituted in Guadalcanal from units of the 1st Marine Raider Regiment. The new 4th Marine Regiment seized Emirau Island in the Central Pacific. Then, as a part the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, it took part in the recapture of Guam. The brigade soon became the 6th Marine Division and with its other regiments, the 4th Marines landed on Okinawa on April 1, 1945. Following the Japanese surrender, the 4th Marines were detached and ordered to occupy the Japanese naval base at Yokusoko. Subsequently, as a part of the post-World War II drawdown, the regiment was inactivated.
In 1951, the 4th Marine Regiment was reactivated at Camp Pendleton, California. It sailed for Japan the following year with the rest of the 3rd Marine Division. When the division was reassigned to Okinawa in 1955, the 4th Marines moved to Kaneohe, Hawaii, where they stayed until the division was committed to Vietnam in 1965. In 1972, the regiment took up residence on Okinawa, its current home base. In 1990-91, the 4th Marines took part in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as part of the III Marine Amphibious Force. Since then, 4th Marine Regiment has been involved in many joint exercises that have taken the regiment all across Asia and the Middle East.