View Full Version : "Paramarines"

USMC 2571
07-25-17, 10:00 PM
I had never heard of this short-lived part of the Marine Corps until about an hour ago. Will post their insignia in a second. Very interesting. Existed from 1940 to 1944, Marines who parachuted. Anyone heard of this before?

USMC 2571
07-25-17, 10:01 PM

07-25-17, 10:55 PM
Yes and also I knew several of the Original "Pathfinders"....

07-25-17, 11:01 PM
The Marine Raiders were some of the best-known specialized units that fought in the Pacific during World War II. They, along with Army units such as Merrill’s Marauders (http://sofrep.com/12111/merrills-marauders-asymmetric-warfare-group/), carved a name for themselves in a part of the world where the terrain and weather often proved as formidable as the Japanese. Despite the obstacles though, these men rose to prominence and their names are still mentioned today on the lips of historians.

Nevertheless, there was one other unit just as deserving of praise, and of which few ever heard. It was a group just as elite as those mentioned, and possessed the same toughness, courage, and fighting ability through some of the most notable campaigns of the war. Even so, time has largely forgotten them because they were never used as they should have been. In addition, many in authority felt at different times that they were simply not needed.

This unit was the Paramarines, or, United States Marine Paratroopers.

In pre-war America during 1940, calls went out for unmarried Marine volunteers for a specialized unit to be dropped from planes. From the start, it was made clear that they would not be similar to Army paratroopers; rather, they would be more of an elite unit for unique and risky tasks similar to what the United States Army Rangers (http://specialoperations.com/386/army-rangers/) would later perform in Europe.

With the promise of much better pay, more intensive training and a certain prestige, there was no shortage of volunteers. Once they formed up and begin training in New Jersey in October, it was immediately clear that they had signed up for a 16-week living hell of physical and mental hardship beyond what most could imagine.

In addition to jumping out of planes, they were worked and hounded beyond exhaustion, pushed beyond known human limits to be rewarded with even more. For this, 40% of the volunteers dropped from the course before completing it.

Those who did manage to stand on the parade ground had wings pinned on their chests and became part of the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion.

In December, the second group followed, with the third coming on line in February, 1941.

http://specialoperations.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Paramarine-539x1024.jpg (http://specialoperations.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Paramarine.jpg)

Moving ahead 18 months, once the U.S. began its long offensive in the Pacific, the Paramarines found themselves a part of the first actions, when the 1st Battalion was attached to the 1st Marine Division during the invasion of Guadalcanal, which began on August 7, 1942. That same day, the unit bloodied itself when it landed by boat to seize the nearby island of Gavutu, then aided other units in taking another island called Tanambango.

A few days later, the unit began fighting alongside the infantry on Guadalcanal as the campaign deteriorated into a slugfest. The Paramarines aided Colonel Merritt Edson in conducting a landing on the north shore of the island to raid the village of Tasimboko, where ammunition, medical and food stockpiles of the Japanese force were found.

More important was a treasure trove of documents that helped determine the size and positions of enemy forces. This windfall better prepared the marine force when they resisted a major Japanese push toward the island’s all-important airfield in a battle to hold Hill 123, later renamed Edson’s Ridge. Here, over two brutal nights from September 12-14, waves of Japanese were repulsed with the Paramarines joining the infantry in stopping the greatest threat the force would face in saving the island. When it was over, the Japanese had suffered over 1,300 killed and wounded, with Marines losing around 260.

http://specialoperations.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Edsons-Ridge.jpg (http://specialoperations.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Edsons-Ridge.jpg)

The Paramarines continued the fight until the island was finally secured on February 8, 1943, and the Solomon’s campaign turned its focus on moving up the chain to the largest island, Bougainville. In October 1943, the 2nd Battalion conducted a diversionary raid on Choiseul Island, starting on October 28, 1943, which was intended to make the Japanese think it would be the main focus before any landing on Bougainville began.

Over the next five days, the unit killed 143 Japanese and sank two barges, at a loss of 14 killed to witness the main landings commence on November 1, at Empress Bay, Bougainville.

An interesting side note – during the diversion, 50 Paramarines were ambushed on November 2, resulting in three wounded. They ended up being evacuated from Choiseul by PT-59, commanded by LTJG John F. Kennedy.

As the Bougainville invasion progressed, all three Battalions of Paramarines fought alongside each other for the first time, being attached to the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps. Always on the front lines, they suffered as much as their infantry brethren, but the elite nature of their training caused them to push on when others halted for rest.

Once again, the Paramarines were there when the end came, this time with the Japanese being beaten and finally isolated on a remote part of the island until the end of the war. The Paramarines could chalk up another major success on their short combat resume, something all were committed to making longer.

Yet, something was missing. As impressive as their record had been up to that point, the three battalions, who soon became known as the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment, knew they were being under-utilized and under-appreciated.

Commanders longed for and requested the time when they would make their first combat jump and truly separate themselves from the infantry.

Sadly, it would never happen. There were not enough transport aircraft available and those coming off the assembly lines saw the Army getting the bulk of them, as their Airborne units were division-sized and had much bigger plans.

The Paramarines, good as they were in concept, were destined to be disbanded along with their more famous brothers, the Raiders (http://sofrep.com/8240/marine-corps-raider-battalions/), on February 29, 1944 and incorporated into existing infantry divisions.

Though gone forever as a unit, the Paramarines legacy did live on in notable individuals. Sergeant Henry Hanson, a member of the first flag raising on Iwo Jima, once wore the wings, as did Corporal Harlon Block and Private First Class Ira Hayes, of the more famous second raising.

Of the 81 Medals of Honor awarded to Marines during the war, 5 were former Paramarines and all received it for actions on Iwo Jima. A fitting tribute for perhaps the most underrated American unit of the war.

USMC 2571
07-26-17, 07:14 AM
Thanks, Mike.

07-26-17, 08:13 AM
Great post.

07-26-17, 09:17 AM
Yessir they where some real bada$$e$ eVer seen their dress blues w/Parachute sewn on the Sleeve ? Killer Aye Aye Semper Fi :marine:

07-26-17, 12:59 PM
Deletion of the parachute program would save $150,000 per month in jump pay, free 3,000 personnel for assignment to one of the new divisions, allow for uniformity of equipment and training within all Marine infantry units, and "avoid setting up some organizations as elite or selected troops ." King agreed to the plan on 25 December 1943. Except for a small cadre to provide an air delivery section for each of the two Marine corps-level headquarters in the Pacific, the 1st Parachute Regiment would return to the States and disband upon its arrival. Its manpower would form the core of the new 5th Marine Division.

Several Marine parachutists did put their special training to use in combat. A handful of graduates of the parachute program joined the Office of Strategic Services and jumped into occupied France in support of the resistance movement .

Silk Chutes and Hard Fighting - U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Units in WWII

07-26-17, 07:54 PM
My father-in-law who was a Marine infantryman in Fox Company, 2d Battalion, 26th Marines, 5th Marine Division and Iwo Jima Veteran had great respect for the Paramarines that filled out the division. He always said, "Those guys were tough".

doc h fmf
07-27-17, 09:36 PM
I am not sure but wasnt Ira Hayes a para Marine I read it some where or sawit on TV.

Semper Fi
Stephen Doc Hansen HM3 FMF

07-27-17, 09:50 PM
I am not sure but wasnt Ira Hayes a para Marine I read it some where or sawit on TV.

Semper Fi
Stephen Doc Hansen HM3 FMF

That is a negative Doc, Ira was not, nor ever was a ParaMarine...


07-28-17, 08:31 AM
"The 5th Marine Division, leavened by the veterans of the 1st Parachute Regiment, would land at Iwo Jima barely a year later and distinguish itself in that bitter fight. Three parachutists would participate in the famed flag raisings on Mount Suribachi on 23 February 1945. Sergeant Henry 0. Hansen helped put the first flag in place and Corporals Ira H. Hayes and Harlon H. Block were among the group of six featured in the Joe Rosenthal photograph of the second flag raising.

Of the 81 Marines to earn the Medal of Honor in World War II, five were former paratroopers who performed their feats of heroism on Iwo Jima."

Page 38, Silk Chutes And Hard Fighting: U.S. Marine Corps Parachute Units In World War II

07-28-17, 08:35 AM

07-28-17, 09:34 AM
I've got a Pic of Ira Hayes during 34' Tower Exit training couple more of him w/Jump wings on his uniform.He was the real deal Aye Aye Semper Fi :thumbup:

07-28-17, 10:36 AM
I stand "Corrected"...


Ira Hayes: O’odham USMC Airborne Warrior

Article by SCAIR historian Roy Cook, US Army Airborne-SFA-75
Each year, November 10th is the Marine Corps birthday. November 11 is the National USA Veterans day. CALIE.org honors all our military veterans for the freedoms their service has brought to all Americans. Ira Hamilton Hayes trained in San Diego. He was an Akimel O’odham, USMC Airborne Warrior and was a participant in the famous WW II flag raising, February 25, 1945, on Mount Suribachi Iwo Jima. This action resulted in the most identifiable icon associated with the Marine Corps.

Ira Hamilton Hayes, USMC Airborne Warrior (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_Hayes) was a participant in the famous WW II flag raising, February 25, 1945, on Mount Suribachi Iwo Jima (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Iwo_Jima).

Ira Hayes was an Akimel O'odham, Pima, Indian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pima), born at Sacaton, Arizona, on 12 January 1923. In 1932, the family moved a few miles southward to Bapchule. Both Sacaton and Bapchule are located within the boundaries of the Gila River Indian Reservation in south central Arizona. Hayes left high school after completing two years of study. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps in May and June of 1942, and went to work as a carpenter.

On 26 August 1942, Ira Hayes enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve at Phoenix, Arizona for the duration of the National Emergency. Following boot camp at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, Hayes was assigned to the Parachute Training School at Camp Gillespie, Marine Corps Base, San Diego. The Commandant named this small base, dedicated entirely to parachute training, Camp Gillespie in honor of Brevet Major Archibald H. Gillespie, who had participated in the campaign to free California from Mexico in 1846.

Ira Hayes graduated one month later, the Akimel Oodham Marine Warrior was qualified as a parachutist on 30 November and promoted to Private First Class the next day. On 2 December, he joined Company B, 3d Parachute Battalion, Divisional Special Troops, 3d Marine Division, at Camp Elliott, California, Then he sailed for Noumea, New Caledonia, on 14 March 1943.

In April, Private First Class Hayes' unit was designated Company K, 3d Parachute Battalion, 1st Marine Parachute Regiment. In October Private First Class Hayes sailed for Vella Lavella, arriving on the 14th. Here, he took part in the campaign and occupation of that island until 3 December when he moved north to Bougainville, arriving on the 4th. The campaign there was already underway, but the parachutists had a full share of fighting before they left on 15 January 1944.

Hayes was ordered to return to the United States where he landed at San Diego on 14 February 1944, after slightly more than 11 months overseas and two campaigns. The parachute units were disbanded in February, 1945 and Hayes was transferred to Company E, 2d Battalion, 28th Marines, of the 5th Marine Division, then at Camp Pendleton, California.

In September, Private First Class Hayes sailed with his company for Hawaii for more training. He sailed from Hawaii in January en route to Iwo Jima where he landed on D-day (19 February 1945) and remained during the fighting until 26 March.

On Feb. 23, 1945 to signal the end of Japanese control, Private First Class Hayes and five other's raised the U. S. flag atop Mount Suribuchi on the island of Iwo Jima. The front four are (left to right) Paramarine Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley and Paramarine Harlon Block.