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06-04-07, 12:21 PM
6 Navy Crosses for Darkhorse <br />
Legendary heroics, and one dark point, figure into 3/5’s storied past <br />
By Gidget Fuentes - gfuentes@militarytimes.com <br />
Posted : June 11, 2007 <br />
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06-04-07, 12:22 PM
Darkhorse’s bright past
By Gidget Fuentes - gfuentes@militarytimes.com
Posted : June 11, 2007

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Talk about a lineage.

The men of 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, follow in the footsteps of leatherneck warriors who battled through some of the most notable campaigns in modern times: Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Da Nang.

And now they have etched Fallujah into new chapters in the history books with their own war experiences during three combat tours in Iraq, so far.

The battalion has borne several nicknames in recent years as commanders tap notable moments to honor their history and the actions of thousands of men who came before them. In 2003, 3/5 was known as the “Naktong Battalion,” a name that goes back to the days of the Korean War.

In late 2004, it took on the nickname “Darkhorse Battalion” to honor the call sign of the late Col. Robert Taplett, a Navy Cross recipient who led 3/5 during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in 1950.

“It really is a storied battalion,” said Col. Patrick Malay, who commanded 3/5 during the 2004-2005 Iraq deployment that included the major battle in Fallujah in November-December 2004, the Corps’ most notable and intense urban war fighting since Vietnam.

In three deployments to Iraq, 3/5 was often out front in the thick of things, and its men began tallying the new generation’s first combat awards.

In March 2003, the battalion, led by then Lt. Col. Sam Mundy, joined Regimental Combat Team 5 as the first combat forces to cross into Iraq in the initial invasion, and its men later helped gain control of Baghdad. Two 3/5 men would later receive the Navy Cross for their actions then.

In late 2004, under Malay’s leadership, the men of 3/5 would earn three Navy Crosses and other valor awards as the battalion helped take and secure Fallujah.

During its deployment last year, Lt. Col. Patrick Looney led 3/5 in a seven-month deployment that included several notable mission successes that went mostly unheralded outside the Corps.

After a roadside bomb destroyed a vehicle May 19, 2006, several Lima Company members searched the vicinity and captured three insurgent cell members responsible for the kidnapping of freelance journalist Jill Carroll, who was taken hostage by insurgents earlier in the year.

A month later, on June 16, scout snipers with Kilo Company recovered the M40A1 sniper rifle belonging to a sniper team with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, killed in Ramadi in 2004. The Darkhorse snipers had spotted a driver near Habbaniyah videotaping a passing Marine patrol and noticed the rifle inside the car. They shot and killed the driver and another man who entered the vehicle. Inside they found the sniper rifle taken from four Marines of 2/4, a sister battalion with 5th Marines.

These occurred just as allegations surfaced that eight men in Kilo Company, 3/5, plotted to kill an Iraqi man in Hamdaniya as a way of sending a message to local insurgents who targeted Marines and coalition forces.

Despite that high-profile scandal, heroics are more the norm for 3/5’s men, commanders say.

“I’ve never seen anybody shirk their way from that requirement to show some valor,” Malay said of his men. “I had no idea of the depths of bravery that took place” until he heard the stories when the unit returned home.

Membership in the battalion comes with the recognition that each man must build on that deeply rooted history, a responsibility taught in training and honed in combat. “The culture, the lineage,” he noted, “now rests on their shoulders.”

Lt. Col. James McArthur is preparing to take 3/5 on its fourth deployment to Iraq this summer. It will be the first time in Iraq for nearly two out of three men, and McArthur expects the men will continue to uphold the noble “Darkhorse” lineage.

“It’s a young battalion. There’s a lot of new Marines here,” he said, noting most of the small-unit leaders are combat veterans.

But they’re getting ready, he said: “We’re going back now knowing so much more than we did before.”
A short history of 3/5

•1917-1918: France, including Belleau Wood.

•1920s: Panama Canal, Nicaragua; helped guard U.S. mail.

•1942-1945: Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Peleliu, Okinawa.

•1950-1953: Republic of Korea: Pusan, Inchon, Seoul, Chosin.

•1966-1971: Vietnam: Chu Lai, Da Nang, Que Son.

•1990-1991: Took part in the Persian Gulf War and, on its way home, helped in Operation Sea Angel in Bangladesh.

•2003: Initial invasion of Iraq, helped take Baghdad.

•2004-2005: Fought in the second battle of Fallujah.

•2006: Operated in western Anbar province.

•2007: Preparing to deploy to Iraq.