The 3d Marine Regiment first came into existence during the period of international unrest in the early twentieth century. The regiment was formed 20 December 1916, by consolidating Marine detachments from the various ships in the Atlantic Fleet then at anchor in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The early days of the regiment were highlighted by campaigns in Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
During World War I, the regiment was heavily involved in the occupation and pacification of the Dominican Republic. As the Dominican crises subsided, the regiment’s role in the Republic also lessened.
Between wars, 3d Marines became a reserve unit stationed in San Francisco, eventually being disbanded in 1937.
The 3d Marine Regiment was reactivated on 16 June 1942, in North Carolina, as part of the World War II military expansion. The regiment fought and bled at Bougainville and Guam. Four medals of Honor were awarded to members of 3d Marines for actions during this period.
Following World War II, the regiment was ordered to China to aid in the disarming of Japanese units and to assist the Nationalist government in the occupation of Northern China in an effort to deny land to the communists.
The regiment did not participate in the United Nations defense of South Korea, but continued to actively train in Hawaii and Japan to remain combat ready.
3d Marines was quick to respond to the call for forces in Vietnam, providing security for the Da Nang Air Base in early 1965. The regiment’s experience level and ability to adapt led to many innovations including the Combined Action Company and the Civic Action Program. Ultimately, 3d Marines was to participate in 48 major operations in the Republic of Vietnam.
Following the retrograde of forces from Vietnam, the regiment was initially relocated to Camp Pendleton and assigned to the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade. During April of 1971, the regiment became part of the 1st Marine Division. Two months later, the regiment was moved to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to assume the role of the ground combat component of the 1st Marine Brigade.
The 3d Marine Regiment was one of the first combat forces to deploy to Saudi Arabia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990. The regiment, which became known as task Force Taro in honor of the state and people of Hawaii, became the first American unit to be engaged by Iraqi artillery, rocket and missile fire on 18 January 1991. Task Force Taro countered the Iraqi supporting attacks by conducting artillery raids into Kuwait as the first ground offensive actions of the war. Task force Taro was instrumental in the recapture of Khafji, was the first unit to advance into Kuwait, conducted the only helicopter borne assault of the war and secured the Marine Corp’s final objective of the war, Kuwait International Airport.
Following the cease-fire on 28 February 1991, the regiment redeployed to Saudi Arabia and subsequently completed its strategic redeployment to Hawaii two months later.
Effective 1 October 1994, the 1st Marine Brigade was deactivated and 3d Marine Division became the regiment’s higher headquarters.
From 2003 to 2012, elements of 3d Marines participated in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom in Afghanistan, and Iraq.
In September 2008, 3d Marine Regiment was appointed to be the command element (CE) for a Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force - Afghanistan (SPMAGTF-A). In October 2008, SPMAGTF-A deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan in support of combat operations in Regional Command South (RC-S) and Regional Command West as part of Operation Enduring Freedom and the GWOT. The Regiment returned to Helmand from late 2009 through May 2010, where it participated in Operation Moshtarak, also known as the Battle of Marjah.
Today, 3d Marine Regiment regularly deploys battalions, companies and smaller elements across the Pacific to support strategic-level objectives throughout the region.