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Histories for India Battery, 3d Battalion, 12th Marines




The history of India Battery
India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines traces its lineage to Item Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines. The 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines was created on 22 July 1942 at New River Marine Base, North Carolina. Third Battalion included Headquarters and Service Battery, George Battery, How Battery, and Item Battery. The battalion was armed with M1 75mm Pack Howitzers with each battery manning four (4) howitzers. The battalion and all of its firing batteries were attached to the 23rd Marine Regiment. Item Battery trained as part of the battalion in support of the 23rd Marines. January 1943 found the battery participating in landing exercises with the 23rd Marines in the Chesapeake Bay. This training site was necessary as German U-boats roamed the coastline of present day Camp Lejeune. Over the following months, 3rd Battalion underwent various reorganizations. On 20 February 1943, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines was re-designated 3rd Battalion, 14th Marines at the New River Marine Base, North Carolina. Shortly thereafter on 1 March 1943 the 1st Separate Pack Howitzer Battalion was re-designated as 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines. The battalion was located at Pago Pago, American Samoa. The Marines of Item Battery, equipped with the pack howitzers, trained as part of the battalion with 3rd Marines in such evolutions as landing exercises in the Updu Island Group. By May 1943, the battery and the rest of 3rd Battalion joined the 12th Marines as part of the 3d Marine Division in New Zealand. The battery deployed to Guadalcanal in July 1943 to prepare for the assault on Bougainville. Bougainville Bougainville would be the first combat test for the Marines of Item Battery. On D-Day, 1 November 1943, Item Battery landed as part of the 3rd Combat Team. Battery ?I? worked hard and distinguished itself this day by being the only battery in position ready to support the 3rd Combat Team on D-Day. Upon landing, the battery pushed 150 yards inland without prime movers and was in position by 1700. By 1810, the battery registered and conducted intermittent fire missions throughout that first night. The Marines participated in the Bougainville campaign until late December 1943. The Bougainville terrain required extensive work by the artillerymen to prepare their positions for firing. Often the Marines would cut trees and clear fields of fire and then construct log platforms to enable the pack howitzers to fire. Item Battery provided superior artillery support to their infantry brothers during the conflict. Notable achievements of the battery included participation in a preparation fire in front of the 3rd Marines lines. This preparation saw over 5,600 rounds fired by seven battalions in support of an assault by the third Marines against the Japanese. This preparation fire was the largest artillery fire in support of a Marine attack up to that time in World War II[i]. On 30 March 1944, the battalion was re-designated the 75mm Pack Howitzer Battalion, 4th Marines. The next day saw the reincarnation of 3rd Battalion and Item Battery when 5th Battalion, 12th Marines re-designated as the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines. The battery employed the M2 105mm howitzers (later to be known as the M101A1). Upon leaving Bougainville and returning to Guadalcanal, Battery ?I? and 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines would undergo further reorganization. Guam While at Guadalcanal the battery underwent training in preparation for their next mission, the assault on Guam. During this period, the battery worked with a new piece of equipment, the amphibious truck known as the DUWK (called ?ducks? by troops). The DUWK was capable of transporting a 105mm howitzer from ship to shore and then serving as the howitzer?s prime mover if needed. Third Battalion was in Direct Support (DS) of 3rd Marines for the Guam operation. Item Battery landed on W-Day, 21 July 1944 and was fire capable by 1640. The battery supported the 3rd Marines? drive inland, helping to secure the beachhead for a further push inland. During the battle for Guam, Item Battery participated in notable actions. During the early morning hours of 26 July 1944, the battery fired as part of the battalion in repulsing the 54th Keibitai?s attack against elements of the 3rd Marines. While these fire missions were being conducted, infiltrators attacked "I" Battery as well as other batteries of the battalion. With help from two (2) Sherman tanks, the batteries defeated the infiltrators while continuing to support 3rd Marines. No howitzers were lost during this action. As the campaign for Guam pushed inland, Item Battery constantly displaced and moved to maintain forward positions capable of supporting the 3rd Marines. Often these moves covered distances of 5,000 yards or more. These moves are notable due to the batteries having only 50% of their prime movers in which to conduct the displacements! (The lack of prime movers was due to the reduce shipping space.) The final large-scale action of the campaign (9 August 1944) required the battery to mass its fires with the other batteries in order to strike a large likely enemy tank site. Item battery and other Marine artillerymen were highly praised for their performance during the campaign. Most ground commanders stated, ?? Artillery was the most effective weapon employed during the operation.?[ii] The 3rd Marines Special Action Report for the operation stated that, ?? for close support, there is no substitute for Artillery.?[iii] Item Battery could take just pride in their contribution to securing the island. The battery contributed to the regiment?s total of 36,827 105mm rounds.[iv] Guam was declared secured on 10 August 1944. Iwo Jima As in previous combat actions, once the objective was secure it was time to move to a base where replacements could join the unit, and to train for the next mission. Thus, Item Battery returned to Guadalcanal. While at Guadalcanal, training included field exercises twice a week, one field exercise with infantry and tanks, and two regimental field exercises. The Forward Observer and Liaison sections participated in these exercises as well as one infantry-artillery field exercise. Training on local security, camouflage and complete occupation of positions were stressed. Third Battalion was assigned a General Support/ Reinforcing (GS-R) mission as its normal supported unit, 3rd Marines, was designated as the Corps reserve for the operation. Battery ?I? landed its four (4) 105mm howitzers on 28 February 1945. By 1800, the battery was ready to fire missions. Typical fire missions for the battery included Preparation, Harassment, Close Support, General Support, Counter-battery and Registrations. During the night of 3 March, the battery fired an emergency barrage (something like a Final Protective Fire) for elements of the 9th Marines. Another common mission included ?Rolling Barrages?. In these missions, 3/12 would mass the fires of the battalion on a point and shift fires 100yds forward of the supported infantry and continue to fire for eight minutes and then ?roll? again. This would last for 24 minutes or longer. The battery also conducted missions in support of the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions. Unlike on Guam, where numerous displacements were conducted, Battery ?I? never displaced while on Iwo Jima (not even one survivability move was undertaken). With the struggle for Iwo Jima nearly over, Item Battery was ordered to secure from firing missions at 1800 15 March 1945, and to deliver its ammunition to the 4th Battalion, 12th Marines. On 16 March, the battery embarked aboard the SS Sea Runner to return to Guam. Battery ?I? as part of 3rd Battalion helped the battalion fire 23,431 rounds during operations on Iwo Jima.[v] While helpful to the effort in achieving victory, the 105mm howitzers were not as effective against the well-prepared Japanese defenses. This was beyond the control of the Marine artillerymen who continued to work hard in providing requested support. Post-World War II On Guam, 3/12 prepared for the invasion of Japan. The dropping of atomic bombs in early August canceled the plans for invasion. Item Battery, as part of the 3rd Battalion, was disbanded on Guam on 31 August 1945, and the Marines were distributed throughout the rest of the regiment. Battery ?I? would remain non-existent until 5 September 1952 when it was reactivated as part of the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines at Camp Pendleton. It was at this time that it probably became known as India Battery. The battery was equipped with 105mm howitzers. In August 1953, the battery deployed to the Fuji-McNair Combat Range in Japan as part of the 12th Marine Regiment. In 1954, the battery trained in Okinawa. Later that year the battery as part of 3rd Battalion transferred to Hawaii as part of the 1st Marine Brigade. India Battery trained and served in Hawaii until ordered for service in Vietnam. Vietnam India Battery landed at Da Nang on 13 April 1965. The battery, still equipped with the trusted and proven 105mm howitzers, moved to the Hue/Phu Bai area in support of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. The battery also manned two M114s (155mm howitzers) in addition to its 105mm howitzers. The type of artillery support during the Battery?s deployment to Vietnam is best described in the following passage. ?In Vietnam, the employment of a battery as a separate and distinct unit in providing direct support for infantry units was developed to the fullest. From the first introduction of Marine combat forces in March 1965, the battery became the basic unit of support. Its versatility in terms of separate fire direction and communications capability, rapid deployment by helicopter, and 360 degree fire capacity, enabled a single battery to provide support to the infantry normally supported by a battalion in a conventional war.?[vi] Essentially, with this flexibility, India Battery provided ?? direct/general support of multi-battalion and small unit operations, and support for base, convoy, and village defense.?[vii] India Battery provided innovated fire support in 1965. The Battery Commander, Captain D. N. Harmon, developed an artillery plan with the help of local village chiefs. India Battery would register in concentrations on avenues of approach into the villages assuring villages of accurate fires around their perimeter.[viii] Major General Lewis Walt noted that this program had favorable effects. ?The survey concentrations target areas have a definite deterrent effect against the enemy, and have greatly increased the relations which our Marines enjoy with the Vietnamese people in our combined fight against the Viet Cong.?[ix] India Battery supported various units and occupied numerous positions during fighting in Vietnam. Eventually batteries would occupy and operate from firebases throughout Vietnam. In July 1966, India deployed six (6) howitzers and 73 Marines to a valley four miles Southwest of Dong Ha. From this position, the battery provided artillery fires in support of the 4th Marines, 5th Marines, and 1st Force Recon Company all of which were engaged in Operation HASTINGS. On 27 July, Battery ?I? fired Harassment and Interdiction (H&I) missions when a forward observer with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines called in a mission. The battery quickly responded and eventually fired 134 rounds on an enemy convoy that resulted in numerous casualties. Shortly thereafter, another forward observer called in an immediate Fire for Effect (FFE) mission and India responded with equal quickness and accuracy. After concluding these missions, India returned to firing its H&I missions.[x] 28 July found India Battery supporting a recon patrol that had discovered a large enemy base camp. The battery would fire over 13,000 lbs of High Explosive (HE) and cause significant damage to the enemy. The patrol leader who called in the mission stated, ??artillery is just like having a guardian angel.?[xi] The work for the battery was far from finished. Later that night the battery repulsed several probing attacks by the enemy and one (1) gun eliminated an enemy machine gun with direct fire. After the attack, India resumed firing H&I missions throughout the night. In 1967, India Battery, under the command of Captain Antonio Mediavilla, occupied positions around Khe Sahn in support of elements of the 9th Marines. In addition to its 105mm howitzers, the battery manned two (2) 155mm towed howitzers (M114s) and two (2) 4.2-inch mortars (M30s). The battery fired numerous missions in support of patrolling operations around Khe Sanh. After leaving the Khe Sahn area in April 1967, India Battery occupied areas in Quang Tri. One action in 1967 found India Battery engaged in a counterfire mission when the battery came under attack. Viet Cong forces scored direct hits upon two (2) howitzers killing three Marines and wounding 14. India fired more than 100 rounds in silencing the enemy weapons. Late 1967 and early 1968 continued to see India Battery jumping around the country in support of various units conducting numerous operations. Such examples include India being attached to 1st Battalion, 11th Marines and participating in Operation OSCEOLA at Quang Tri. On 20 January 1968, India Battery resorted back to 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines control and helped provide Direct Support to elements of 3rd Marines. Typical of the vast numbers of rounds fired by artillery in Vietnam, the following figures show the numbers of rounds 3/12 fired during January 1968. India Battery was instrumental in achieving such large numbers of rounds fired. 3/12 fired 137,179 HE; 4,323 WP; and 1,685 Illumination rounds.[xii] February and March 1968 found India Battery and 3/12 supporting Operations OSCEOLA II, SALINE II and NAPOLEON in Direct Support of 3rd Marines. The quantity of rounds fired is similar to January?s totals. These types of operations continued for India Battery throughout its time in Vietnam. India Battery finally concluded its service in Vietnam in 1969 when 3/12 deployed back to Okinawa. Post-Vietnam India Battery continued its service to the United States from various locations throughout the world after Vietnam. Eventually India Battery would be equipped with six (6) M198 155mm Towed Howitzer in the early 1980s. Furthermore, in 1986 India Battery would become part of the Unit Deployment Program (UDP) for artillery units. This program would reduce the number of permanently stationed Marines on Okinawa and instead deploy battery size units from Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton, and Hawaii to maintain full strength artillery battalions (2/12 and 3/12) located on Okinawa. In the late 1980s, India Battery was assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. During the 1980s, India would continue to train vigorously by conducting Combined Arms Exercises (CAX), and deployments to Norway for Battle Griffin as well as deployments to Okinawa for its UDP cycle. This operational cycle continued until world events unfolded into conflict in the Persian Gulf. The Persian Gulf War When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, India Battery along with 1st Battalion, 10th Marines in Direct Support of 2nd Marines headed for the region as part of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). It was planned for the 4th MEB to conduct an amphibious assault into Kuwait and link up with allied forces once the offensive to liberate Kuwait began. India Battery and the rest of the MEB conducted amphibious training in anticipation of its mission. This amphibious exercise was known as Operation Imminent Thunder and occurred 15-21 November 1990. The landing site was Ras Al Ghar in Saudi Arabia. Upon conclusion of the exercise, India Battery and the other units of 4th MEB embarked aboard ship in anticipation of conducting an amphibious assault against the Iraqis.[xiii] The 4th and 5th MEB was offshore of Kuwait and Southern Iraq and tied numerous Iraqi Divisions down in anticipation of the amphibious assault. The assault never materialized as the forces served their purpose in denying the use of these Iraqi divisions to help defend against the land attack of the allied forces. India Battery and the rest of the 4th MEB departed the Persian Gulf Region on 13 March 1991. Post-Gulf War and the 1990s Upon India Battery?s return to the United States, it continued to train and deploy to Okinawa in support of the UDP system. India Battery remained assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Marines until August 1994. At that time, India Battery was assigned to 5th Battalion, 10th Marines. This realignment was done to bolster the number of firing batteries the artillery battalion had to support the UDP cycle. Fifth Battalion, 10th Marines changed its support from providing batteries for Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) to providing batteries in support of UDP. In August 1994, India Battery Marines demonstrated their flexibility and capability by deploying as security teams aboard Coast Guard cutters in support of Haitian operations. India Battery made its first UDP deployment to Okinawa originating from 5/10 in June 1995. India Battery continues to deploy to Okinawa on a rotating basis every two (2) years (from June-December 1995, 1997, 1999 etc.) When back in the United States, India Battery maintains a vigorous training program in conducting CAXs, and deployments to Puerto Rico, Norway and other parts of the world. India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines has a storied history that Marines of India Battery have worked hard to earn. From Bougainville, Guam, Iwo Jima, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf the reputation of India Battery is one of which its Marines can be proud. It is the duty of current and future Marines to uphold the great tradition provided to them in the name of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines.

Posted by Jason Mcclafferty
Aug 19 2004 02:31:36:000AM




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