Nicknamed “The Silent Second,” the 2nd Marine Division began its existence as a brigade when it was activated as the 2nd Marine Brigade at San Diego on 1 July 1936. It saw its first action in the summer of 1937 when it was deployed to Shanghai as the battle for the city raged between the Chinese and invading Japanese forces. It was officially activated as a Division at Camp Elliott, California on 1 February 1941, the same day the 1st Marine Division was organized. Within a few months, the 6th Marine Regiment, a battalion from the 10th Marines, and other units were taken from the Division and deployed to Iceland in anticipation of a German invasion.

During World War II, two of the Division’s regiments, the 2nd and the 8th, saw major action in the Pacific Theater. Both took part in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal, while the 8th also fought at the battles of Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa. The Division did not see action during Korea, and was not deployed again until the military intervention in Lebanon in 1958; some of its units were used to reinforce U.S. forces in Guantanamo Bay during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and in 1965 it was sent to the Dominican Republic as part of a peacekeeping effort. It was during another peacekeeping effort, this time in Lebanon, that the Division suffered a major blow: the loss of 241 Marines and Sailors killed in a truck-bomb suicide attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut. The 2nd Marine Division was part of the First Gulf War in 1991, as well as the Iraq Campaign and other operations involved in the Global War on Terrorism.

The 2nd Marine Division is the ground element of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, which also contains the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and the 2nd Marine Logistics Group and is stationed at Camp LeJeune, NC. Its motto is “Follow Me.”

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