2nd Tank Battalion stood as a single company in May of 1941, using the 4th Tank Company to form its own Alpha Company. In July, that Alpha Company deployed to Iceland with the Provisional Brigade. The Battalion formed in December 20th at Camp Elliott, San Diego California, growing to the standard organization with a headquarters, service and four letter companies (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta). Bravo Company deployed to Samoa in January and Charlie Company sailed with 2D Marines to Tulagi, landing in an assault there on November 7th 1942 against heavy resistance. This completed a "hat trick" of "firsts" for the battalion: First company overseas, first company to deploy to a war theater, and first company in combat. The battalion participated in every action of the 2nd Marine Division, such as Tarawa, Saipan and Okinawa. Sgt Grant F. Timmerman of Company B was killed in action on July 8th 1944 on Saipan and was awarded posthumously the Medal of Honor. After a brief tour with the Japan occupation force, the battalion returned to its permanent garrison at Camp Lejeune, NC.
With the coming of the Korean War, most of the battalion's personnel immediately augmented the 1st Tank Battalion (forming Charlie Company of that unit) or provided replacements throughout the conflict. It also provided cadre for the 8th Tank Battalion, a wartime expansion force battalion. Garrison duty on the East Coast of the US involved support to routine deployments in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. Second Tank Battalion units became involved in two interventions in Lebanon, the Cuban Missile Crisis deployment, the Dominican Republic and the Guantanamo Base defense effort. The Vietnam War again caused the battalion to provide replacements for the tank battalions deployed there.
After the Vietnam War, peacetime deployments swelled with participation in NATO exercises. Units of the battalion also saw brief combat in the invasion of Grenada. But the battalion as a whole saw its first combat since the Second World War in 1991, as it moved with the 2D Marine Division to Saudi Arabia for the liberation of Kuwait. Augmented by companies of the 4th USMCR Tank Battalion, 2D Tank Battalion supported regiments and served as the division reserve for the four-day war in Kuwait. The battalion continues in service in garrison at Camp Lejeune in a continuous cycle of training.
The opening of 2003 found 2d Tank Battalion preparing for deployment to Kuwait in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. In January and February the Battalion deployed under the operational control of 1st Marine Division and was attached to Regimental Combat Team 5 (RCT-5) upon arrival in theater. On 20 March, after approximately 90 days of preparation for combat operations, 2d Tank Battalion led RCT-5 and 1st Marine Division across the Southern Iraqi border, initiating an attack that would ultimately result in the seizure of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and the destruction of the Sadaam Hussein regime.
2d Tank Battalion fought numerous engagements in support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, to include battles in An Numaniyah, Al Aziziyah, and eastern Baghdad. While in Baghdad, Company D and the AT-TOW Platoon supported TASK FORCE TRIPOLI’s movement into Al Tikrit. Upon the cessation of combat operations, 2d Tank Battalion participated in humanitarian operations in Baghdad. Throughout April and May 2003, 2d Tank Battalion conducted retrograde operations from Iraq back to Kuwait, and on 29 May, redeployed to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.