WASHINGTON — In honor of their legendary World War II predecessors, Marine Corps special operators will now be referred to as “Marine Raiders” according to a proclamation issued Wednesday by Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos.
The original Raiders, formed after the attack on Pearl Harbor to fight behind enemy lines, battled Japanese troops from 1942 to 1944. Members of the elite force earned seven Medals of Honor for their heroism during the war, according to the Marine Corps.
Some consider the four Raider battalions that fought in the Pacific to be America’s very first special operations units.
“United States Marines take great pride in our special operations and irregular warfare heritage … From this point forward, the Marines of MARSOC will be officially aligned with the Marine Raiders of World War II and are charged with maintaining the high standards and traditions that accompany such distinction,” Amos said.
Maj. Gen. Mark Clark, the outgoing commander of Marine Corps Special Operations, embraced the new name at a MARSOC change of command ceremony.
“We are proud and honored to adopt the name Marine Raider, carrying on the rich heritage passed along to MARSOC by the Raiders of World War II,” he said, according to a Marine Corps press release. “As with every Marine Corps unit, MARSOC desires a moniker that creates its own unique identity that is based on Marine Corps heritage and enables Marines to trace the legacy of those Marines who served before them.”
Much like the Raiders units, which were created at a time of crisis, MARSOC was established in 2003 as the demand for special operators skyrocketed during the post-9/11 wars.
Although the command itself will still be officially known as MARSOC, subordinate elements will carry the Raider moniker, such as Marine Raider Regiment and Marine Raider Battalion.
The change comes at a time when the number of living Raider veterans continues to decline.
In the news release announcing the change, the Marine Corps said the move was partly an effort to fulfill a desire by members of the original Raiders to have their name carried on by the Marines.
“No military unit in the history of the United States brought more honor and glory to themselves, more pride to their countrymen, and more grief to their enemies as the four United States Marine Raider Battalions of World War II. It is imperative that their heritage and exploits live long past the surviving Raiders,” the U.S. Marine Raider Association and Foundation stated on its official website.
Clark said the Marines are determined to carry the torch.
“The Marine Raiders have chosen MARSOC to be the holder of their legacy,” he said at the change of command ceremony. “We feel we owe it to those Marine Raiders still living and their families to make every attempt to do so.”