MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- For the fifth time since 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment was created, the unit cased its colors during a deactivation ceremony Aug. 13, 2013.
“The battalion has been through five periods of activation and it is our honor to have been part of it,” said Lt. Col. Carl E. Cooper Jr., the battalion commander for 3rd Bn., 9th Marines.
Since the latest reactivation of the battalion in December 2006, the battalion has served to support the Global War on Terrorism. Since the battalion’s original formation November 10, 1917, when they deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they have taken part in some of the Marine Corps’ more well-known operations. During World War II they participated in the battles of Iwo Jima, Bougainville and Guam. The battalion fought in Vietnam and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The battalion also deployed in support of Operation Restore Hope before it was deactivated in 1994.
The battalion was most recently reactivated during December 2006, and since then it has supported Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009 and Operation Enduring Freedom from 2010-11 and again from 2012-13.
“We would be going through hell, but we were still with each other, so it didn’t matter,” said Lance Cpl. Erik Jacobsen, a fire-team leader with India Company, and a native of Queens, N.Y.
With the deactivation under way the company first sergeants, retrieved each company’s guidon.
“For a second I was like, don’t let them take it,” Jacobsen said.
For the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, seeing their unit being deactivated took a bigger toll on their emotions than expected.
“I didn’t think I was going to care but I actually got a little teary eyed,” Jacobsen said who has served with the unit since March 2010. “It’s sad to see it go. It’s the only thing I know from the Marine Corps, it is like my second home.”
The culmination of the ceremony occurred when the battalion commander and sergeant major cased the organizational colors, which signified the official deactivation of the battalion.
“The (battalion) sergeant major and I were proud to do it,” Cooper said. “There will be a time when the battalion is established again and we will have to unfurl those colors.”
The Marines and sailors serving with the unit have sustained the legacy of 3rd Bn., 9th Marines through their honor, courage and commitment added Cooper.
“I don’t know how to put words to it, I’m proud,” Jacobsen said. “I wouldn’t be the man I am today or the Marine if it weren’t for ‘three-nine’”
Although seeing the colors of the unit being cased the Marines are sure there will be a time when the Marine Corps will need to reactivate the battalion.
“They wake the battalion up in a time of need,” Jacobsen said. “We serve a purpose and now they put us back in the glass, and they will break the glass again when they need us to come back out.”