Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Members of India Company during the Desert Shield/Desert Storm deployment
In 1990, 3rd Battalion was finishing up a deployment at Camp Hansen on Okinawa when on 1990-08-02, at 0200, the commanding officer of the 9th Marine Regiment notified the battalion to be prepared to immediately redeploy to Saudi Arabia as a response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. No sooner had the battalion returned to Hawaii, then it was shipped out again to Saudi Arabia as part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade. India Company deployed first on August 15 to Guam to provide onboard security for the Maritime Prepositioning ships bound for the port of Al Jubayl. On September 1, the rest of the battalion arrived in Dahran.
As one of the first Marine units in country, 3/3 found itself defending a key position at Cement Ridge, about 90 kilometers away from the Kuwaiti border. With orders to hold against any Iraqi attack, 3rd battalion spent most of the months of August and September digging defensive positions. In October, 3/3 and 2/3 were designated "Task Force Taro" and moved to the extreme right flank of the Marine sector, bordering the Saudi Arabian King Abdul Aziz Brigade. Because of their close proximity, Taro was ordered by Major General James M. Myatt (Commanding General, 1st Marine Division) to begin cross-training with the Saudi forces. This cross-training continued through January, when 3/3 was moved forward to defend Al Mish'ab along the Saudi coast and became the northernmost Marine combat force in Saudi Arabia.
Operation Desert Storm began on 1991-01-17, but for the first two weeks 3/3 only conducted sporadic engagements with its Iraqi counterparts across the border. That all changed on 1991-01-29, when several Iraqi divisions unexpectedly crossed the border and seized the Saudi town of Khafji, less than 15 kilometers north of 3rd Battalion's position. During the attack, Major Craig Huddleston, the Executive Officer, along with the Battalion Sergeant Major and several other non-commissioned officers, drove into the town on a rescue mission, looking for two Army soldiers who had accidentally driven right into the Iraqi positions and been captured. Although they were unable to find the soldiers, the Marines from 3rd Battalion did blunder into an Iraqi patrol and exchanged rounds with them before making their own escape. While Saudi and Qatari units ultimately retook the town, 3rd Battalion played a vital role in both coordinating the attack and blocking further Iraqi advances southward. In addition, several heavy machine guns and forward air controllers from the battalion were shifted over to the Saudis and took place in the assault.
From 1991-02-19 to 1991-02-21, 3/3 moved from Al Mish'ab to the forward assembly areas that it would be using to launch its attack into Kuwait. It was also during this period that 3/3 was given its assignment for the ground offensive. Lacking heavy armor or motorized transport, the battalion (along with 2/3) would infiltrate Iraqi positions along the Saudi border and provide flank security for the rest of the 1st Division to make its assault into Kuwait. As TF Taro's commander, Brigadier General John H. Admire, recalled in his history The 3d Marines in Desert Storm: "We were encouraged by MajGen Myatt's confidence in assigning us such a critical task with minimum notice and accepted our supporting attack role with the understanding that we would have no armor, no assault amphibious vehicles, no major mechanical or explosive breaching assets. We would simply infiltrate at night on foot, with bayonets and rifles as our principal weapons.” An NCO with 3rd Marines, Corporal Eroshevich, said the reaction among the enlisted Marines was less optimistic: "We all looked at each other and said, `Well, it was nice knowing you...
Other Marines from 3rd Battalion wondered if they'd been given the mission because several days earlier they had shot at the 1st Marine Division commander while he was conducting forward reconnaissance. On the night of 1991-02-22, 3rd Battalion crossed the border into Kuwait, infiltrating past Iraqi minefields, tank traps, and other obstacles. Like many American units, 3/3 encountered no Iraqi resistance and the biggest threat to the Marines came from friendly fire. Throughout the ground war, the battalion advanced steadily northwards, encountering no resistance but taking plenty of prisoners, and arrived outside the Kuwait International Airport around 1991-02-27. Several months later, 3rd Battalion returned to Hawaii, having suffered no casualties.
[source 2009 Wikipedia]