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Retired Lt. Col. William C. Vielhauer, former executive officer and commanding officer of the 11th Marine Regiment, and Cpl. Ruben Baldernero, artilleryman with 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, place the Korean Service Streamer with four Bronze Stars on the battalion colors as the 3/11?s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Douglas H. Fairfield, stands at parade rest in front of the battalion colors May 4 during 3/11?s colors rededication ceremony at the Combat Center parade field.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

3/11 Marines honor 63 years of service

4 May 2006 | Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

The colors of 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, were rededicated May 4 on the Combat Center parade field in honor of their 63rd year of service.Sixteen streamers, representing the 16 awards the battalion has received since their activation May 1, 1943, were attached to the pike of the battalion color. The battalion was activated in Victoria, Australia, as the 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. During World War II, the battalion participated in the Eastern New Guinea, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns. The battalion was redesignated 3/11 on May 7, 1944.In December 1946, the battalion was attached to the 7th Marine Regiment. The battalion was relocated to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in January 1947 and was assigned on the 3rd Marine Brigade. The battalion was then deactivated September 30, 1947.Three years later, the battalion was reactivated in August, 1950, and participated in the Korean War. Since their reactivation, the battalion has participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the war in Vietnam.In February, 1990, the battalion was relocated to its current home at the Combat Center. Since then, the battalion has participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1994’s Operation Restore Hope in Somalia.In 2003, the battalion deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The battalion’s timely and accurate fires proved to be crucial in allowing I Marine Expeditionary Force to quickly move deep into Iraqi territory and topple Saddam Hussein’s regime in 21 days of major combat operations. Following the fall of Baghdad, the battalion took the mission of Provisional Infantry Battalion and began assisting in civil and military duties, as well as conducting security and stability operation patrols in the capital city. In November 2003, the battalions again received orders to deploy to Iraq, but this time as a provisional military police battalion. The battalion quickly transitioned into its new job and deployed from February to September 2004. The battalion’s motto of "Semper Flexibilis," always flexible, held true with the battalion participating in missions ranging from convoy escorts, combat patrols, humanitarian assistance, security force training, and controlling a battle space of over 40,000 square kilometers.Currently the 3/11 mission is to provide direct support to the 7th Marine Regiment in times of conflict. That support may come in the form from everything from the traditional fashion of artillery support to maneuver forces, or by providing batteries to serve as provisional rifle companies. They also have the secondary mission of being the primary providers of Civil Military Operations, which is the activities of the commander that establish, maintain, influence, or exploit relations between military organizations, government and civilian organizations and the civilian populace.Lt. Col. Douglas H. Fairfield, 3/11’s commanding officer, expressed his wishes to continue the fine legacy the battalion has created over the past 63 years."Today’s rededication is important," addressed Fairfield to the guests and service members. "Through the rededication, we commemorate the battalion’s history, success in battle, and we show thanks to the heroes who came before us and stand with us today. I thank you all for your continuing support."Our battalion has certainly been blessed throughout the years," he continued. "The streamers we put on our colors today represent the combined efforts of the Marines and Sailors who have served here through blood, sweat, tears and heroic actions. Some Marines did not come home, and we stand proud here today to have served with them.""Today is also a day to reaffirm our basic beliefs and Corps values of honor, courage and commitment," added Fairfield. "I’m proud to say that the Marines and Sailors standing before you are ready… ready for any mission. We will continue to uphold this legacy."Retired Marines who served in the battalion joined the rededication ceremony and some even participated. Retired Lt. Col. William C. Vielhauer, former executive officer and commanding officer of the 11th Marine Regiment, placed the Korean Service Streamer with one Silver and four Bronze Stars on the battalion colors."It’s a pleasure to take part in this ceremony," said Vielhauer, who enlisted in the Corps in 1945 and was commissioned in 1951. "It charges up my batteries and brings me back to the good feel of the Corps. This is a very impressive ceremony. The history is all wrapped with streamers and colors, and these new Marines are now a part of that history."One of the battalion’s newest members, Pvt. Kevin D. Prein with Mike Battery, was pleased to be a part of the battalion’s legacy, he said."I was very impressed to see how many awards the battalion has earned," said the artilleryman. "The ceremony was a great learning experience for me. I feel honored to be a part of this battalion. It’s great to see some of the retired Marines pin on some streamers that they’ve earned when they were serving with 3/11. It keeps the tradition alive. I feel really motivated to be experiencing this legacy.”
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