Marine Infantry Regiment with Ties to Banana Wars Deactivates Amid Force Reorganization

8th Marine Regiment deactivation ceremony on Camp Lejeune.
U.S. Marine Corps Col. John H. Rochford, the commanding officer of 8th Marine Regiment, and Sgt. Maj. Keith D. Hoge, the sergeant major of 8th Marine Reg., both with 2d Marine Division, case the regimental colors during a deactivation ceremony on Camp Lejeune, N.C., Jan. 28, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Chase W. Drayer)

Hundreds of Marine grunts have been assigned to new units after their celebrated regiment was deactivated as the Corps continues a forcewide reorganization.

The North Carolina-based 8th Marine Regiment deactivated last week. The regiment's history dates to 1917, with its most recent activation lasting more than 70 years.

Over the last seven decades, 8th Marines operated in Lebanon, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Cuba, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, among other places. The regiment was also involved in the Banana Wars in the early 1900s and major campaigns during World War II.

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The deactivation is part of a 10-year reorganization plan as the Marine Corps prepares to take on future threats. The service is cutting its number of infantry regimental headquarters from eight to seven, and is going from two dozen active grunt battalions down to 21.

Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, commanding general of the 2nd Marine Division, said the deactivation of 8th Marines signifies a transition for the Marine Corps.

"Losing a regiment, we lose some flexibility," Donovan said, according to a Marine Corps news release on the deactivation ceremony. "But the reality is we also spread some of that talent and that capability to our other regiments."

About 200 Marines and sailors were affected by the headquarters deactivation, said 2nd Lt. Paul Ortiz, a 2nd Marine Division spokesman.

"The future for each of these Marines and sailors strongly depends on their own individual career tracks," he said, adding that most of the personnel have been reassigned to other units in North Carolina or elsewhere in the Marine Corps.

Others, Ortiz said, have reached their end-of-active-service dates and are leaving the Marine Corps.

Two of the infantry battalions that fell under 8th Marines are moving to new 2nd Marine Division regiments. Members of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, currently serving as the battalion landing team for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, will now fall under 6th Marine Regiment, according to the Marine Corps. Members of 2/8 have been reassigned to 2nd Marines.

The last remaining battalion, 3/8, will be deactivated following the unit's deployment to Okinawa, Japan.

There are about 900 Marines and sailors with that battalion. Ortiz said it would be inappropriate to go into specifics about 3/8's future deactivation since there are "operational security considerations when talking about future operations that relate to our force's structure."

Sgt. Maj. Keith Hoge, 8th Marines' top enlisted leader, said during last week's deactivation ceremony that he hoped members of the regiment, past and present, were proud of their accomplishments. Marines moving into new units "can take with them the 8th Marine Regiment fighting spirit and go on and do good things in the Marine Corps," he said.

Several other Marine Corps units have been deactivated as part of Force Design 2030. Combat Logistics Regiment 25, based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and CLR-15, out of Camp Pendleton, California, were both deactivated in July. CLR-35 in Japan deactivated in May, and the California-based Bridge Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion shut down in June.

Several tank battalions have also shut down as the Marine Corps gets rid of the vehicles.

This is at least the fourth time 8th Marine Regiment has been deactivated, according to its lineage.

-- Gina Harkins can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.

Related: Marine Corps Begins Shutdown of All Tank Battalions

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