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The Reserves in Action

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The Reserves in Action

By Capt Ernest H. Giusti
Reprinted from September 1951 issue of The Marine Corps Gazette
Reprinted with permission to The Korean War Educator.

Showing an aggressor’s disdain for peace, the North Korean Army that launched the lightning invasion of South Korea chose the quiet, last Sunday of June, 1950. With summer only four days old, that fateful Sunday found most Americans planning an outing; and like most Americans, many Marine reservists were contemplating the annual problem of whether to spend the summer holidays at the seashore or at the lakeside or in the mountains.

But on that peaceful Sunday, Communist aggression set the mills of the war gods grinding in the far off and little known land of Korea, and for thousands of Marine reservists the problem was solved. Though they did not know it then, the only seashore they were to know that year was to be shell-spattered, Inchon beach; the only lake, the frozen expanse of Chosin Reservoir; the only mountains, the deadly and rugged ridges along the route of the withdrawal of Hungnam.

Hardships imposed upon civilian Americans by the Korean conflict were indeed small as compared to the sacrifice which Marine reservists were called upon to make, for, separated from their families and work on short notice, Marine reservists soon found themselves training hard at Marine Corps camps, safeguarding American posts and stations at home and abroad, and fighting a cunning and cruel enemy in an inhospitable land. And the logical question is why?

By 2 July, the North Korean invasion had progressed to a point where the great disparity in the comparative strength made it obvious that additional American forces would be needed. And the choice logically fell on the Marines, as yet uncommitted in Korea. To this end the 1st Marine Provisional Brigade (Reinf) was activated at Camp Pendleton on 5 July, with the 5th Marines of the 1st Mar Div (Reinf) and MAG-33 of the 1st Mar Air Wing as the basic elements. Nine days later, the brigade, composed of well-trained aviation and ground regulars, weighed anchor for Kobe, Japan. But while still at sea, on 25 July, the brigade was diverted from Japan and ordered to land in Korea where reinforcements were urgently needed. The brigade arrived at Pusan on 2 August and was almost immediately committed to counterattack toward Chinju as part of Task Force Kean.

Regulars could help keep the determined enemy at bay, but they were too few in number to go over to the attack in force, and therein lies the story of the Reserve’s contribution to the record of Marine forces in Korea. For the Reserve provided trained Marines in sufficient numbers and of such a caliber as to make the Inchon landing possible and victory probable. But why the haste? Aside from the international considerations, time and tide and the tactical situation prevailing in Korea during July conspired to give the build-up and transportation of a war-strength Marine division and a two-group Marine air wing an urgency unequalled since the first months of WWII.

By the fateful last week of July, it was apparent that the Korean "police action" had taken on the dress of a young but lusty war, entailing the employment of war strength divisions and all the techniques inherent in a war of fronts, including amphibious assault. Fortunately, Gen MacArthur had already planned an amphibious counterattack at Inchon, which, if successful, would relieve the Pusan perimeter, seize Seoul, and above all sever the North Korean Army’s communications, thereby separating its heart from its body. In such an operation time is the "open sesame" to success, for tide conditions at Inchon are so unique that there is only one month of the year, September, when the landing of large bodies of troops can be executed satisfactorily. And during September itself, only the 15th through the 17th are really favorable.

In addition, an appreciable delay in the embarkation of the 1st Mar Div would probably have led to a postponement of the landing for at least a month. During that month the enemy would have had an opportunity to improve his defenses in the vicinity of Inchon, and improved defenses, if created, would have increased the cost in lives—always very important to Americans—and diminished the possibility of a successful assault. And so, the haste.

Granting the need for haste, the next question follows quite naturally; why were the reserves needed? In general terms the answer can be given by simply stating that the Marine Corps’ commitments had outrun its regular resources. On 30 June, five days after the commencement of hostilities, the Marine Corps had 74,273 officers and men on active duty, and more than 40,000 of these were serving in the operating forces: those forces participating directly in the execution of the assigned missions and tasks of the Marine Corps. The operating forces were divided into Fleet Marine Force, the security forces, and Marines afloat. The FMF was, in turn, divided into FMFPac and FMFLant, each possessing one peacetime division and one greatly under-strength air wing. FMFPac had the 1st Mar Div (Reinf) and the 1st Mar Air Wing, while FMFLant had the 2d Mar Div (Reinf) and the 2d Mar Air Wing. And here it should be noted that had the 1st and 2nd Divs been combined into a single unit, its numbers would still have fallen far short of a war-strength division.

Now, with the decision to employ a war-strength Marine division and a two-group Marine air wing in the Inchon-Seoul operation, previous commitments could be compromised, but not relinquished. To provide urgently-needed regular Marines for the 1st Mar Div, security forces were drastically cut, 800 Marines were detached from shipboard duty in the Mediterranean and ordered to proceed to the Far East via the Suez Canal to join the division upon its arrival, and most of the effective combat strength of the 2d Mar Div was transferred to the 1st Mar Div. But despite these measures the 1st Mar Div could not have been brought up to war-strength had it not been for the availability of Marine reservists. The only alternative to calling these reservists to active duty would have been "to send the 1st Division into combat so dangerously under-strength as to invite disaster."

However, the real measure of the reservist’s contribution to the record of Marine forces in Korea may be gauged by citing just a few facts not commonly known. For example, at the time of the Inchon-Seoul operation there were more Marines in Korea than there had been in the total FMF two and a half months earlier, and 20 per cent of these were reservists, only six to eight weeks removed from normal civilian pursuits. By the end of March, 1951, approximately 38 percent of the officers and 48 percent of the enlisted personnel serving with Marine forces in Korea were reservists. And the United Nations force, which as early as November inflicted the first decisive defeat upon a Chinese Communist division, was a Marine regiment including approximately 34 percent reservists.

But such achievements are not conceived one night and born the next morning. The real beginning of the Marine Reserve’s contributions goes back to pre-Korean times. During the post-war years, the nation steadily decreased its regular Marine Corps, and in obviously perilous times placed a correspondingly heavier reliance on a strong and rapidly employable reserve as a complement to the regular Marine Corps. This reserve was established, and its mission—to provide trained personnel for integration into the Marine Corps in time of national emergency—was defined. And the advent of the Korean conflict found this organization ready in spirit, in numbers, and in quality.

By 30 June 1950, the Marine Corps Reserve had a total strength of approximately 128,000, almost double that of the regular Marine Corps. This was divided among the Organized Ground Reserve with 33,528 Marines in 138 separate functioning units, the Organized Aviation Reserve with a strength of 6,341 in 30 fighter squadrons (VMFs) and 12 ground control intercept squadrons (GCISs), and the Volunteer Reserve with a strength of approximately 88,000. Of the overall group, a substantial majority were battle-tested veterans of World War II.

On 10 and 15 July, Gen MacArthur had urgently requested a war-strength Marine division with appropriate air for employment in Korea, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff asked the Commandant how much time the Marine Corps would require to create a third regimental combat team for the 1st Mar Div. The Commandant could only reply that the Marine Corps did not possess enough personnel to form an additional RCT without calling Marine reservists to active duty. This step was authorized by the President, with congressional sanction, on 19 July, and the die was cast!

At Headquarters Marine Corps the scene became one of feverish activity, with staffs burning midnight oil to insure the most orderly mobilization possible under the limitations imposed by time. Now, previously made plans began to pay off. Within a period of two hours, the mobilization team had gone into action, and four important preliminary steps had been taken. Reserve district directors were warned that the Organized Reserve would shortly be ordered to active duty. The Commanding General of MB, Camp Pendleton was told to expect approximately 21,000 organized reservists in the near future. The Commanding General of MB, Camp Lejeune was told to expect approximately 5,800. And the Commandant, with the Secretary of the Navy’s approval, ordered that the practice of discharging Marine Corps personnel at their own request be discontinued.

Events now moved rapidly. On 20 July, 22 units with a total strength of 4,830 were ordered to extended active duty with a delay of ten days. During the next 15 days (21 July-4 August), the total Organized Ground Reserve was ordered to active duty on a schedule which took into account the state of readiness of the various units, their proximity to their initial station of deployment, and the facilities available to receive and care for them. In all, orders were issued to 138 units with a total strength of 1,880 officers and 31,648 enlisted Marines. By 11 September, in a period of 43 days, all of these units had reported for active duty, and this component had de facto, ceased to exist.

However, even before the first reserve units arrived at their initial stations of deployment, four important events occurred. (1) On 25 July—a red letter day—the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the Marine Corps to build the 1st Mar Div less one RCT, to war strength. And on the same day a 10-15 August date of departure for the Far East was set. (2) Also on 25 July, the Chief of Naval Operations authorized a 50 percent reduction in Marine security forces within the continental limits of the United States, thus making additional regular Marines available for the 1st Mar Div. (3) Two days later, Congress passed legislation authorizing the President to extend for one year all enlistments, regular and reserve, in the Armed Forces which were to expire prior to 9 July 1951, thus making it possible for the Marine Corps to rely on a stable body of regulars and reservists. (4) And on 31 July, even as the first reservists were arriving at Camp Pendleton and approximately 6,800 regular Marines of the 2d Mar Div were mounting out of Camp Lejeune to join the 1st Mar Div, the Joint Chiefs directed the Marine Corps to expand the 2d Mar Div to war strength and increase the number of Marine tactical squadrons.

The problem posed is at once apparent. Obviously, both divisions could not be built up simultaneously, and in view of the pending commitment of the 1st Mar Div, it was mandatory that this unit receive top priority. And it was in the buildup of the 1st Mar Div that the Marine reservists made their first important direct contribution. On 31 July, the first Organized Ground Reserve units began to stream into Camp Pendleton. That day saw the arrival of the 13th Infantry Bn of Los Angeles, the 12th Amphibian Tractor Bn of San Francisco, the 12th Signal Co of Oakland, and the 3d Engineer Co of Phoenix.

The flow soon became a torrent, and within a week one would have been justified in terming the influx a flood. Also contributing was a steady stream of regulars: approximately 3,600 Marines from 105 posts and stations had poured into Camp Pendleton by 4 August. By 6 August, during one 96-hour period, approximately 6,800 Marines (from the 2d Mar Div) and 350 Navy arrived at Camp Pendleton. All the while reservists continued to report.

Fortunately, even before the arrival of the first reservists, an extensive survey had been conducted of the facilities and supplies available at Camp Pendleton. On the basis of this survey, estimates had been made of the increased facilities and supplies which would be needed to support the vastly increased strength of the post. As rapidly as possible, measures were taken to expand facilities and augment supplies, with the result that all new arrivals were properly fed, housed, and clothed, even if many Marines had to be taken off one train and immediately set to helping prepare for the arrival of the next.

Headquarters Marine Corps planned the arrival dates on a staggered schedule to facilitate the reception and care of each arriving increment before the appearance of the next group. Even so, and despite the extensive planning, and the 24-hour, seven day week instituted at Camp Pendleton, the rate of daily arrivals taxed facilities to the limit, and over the limit, but an essential job had to be and was being done. As rapidly as reserve units arrived, they were billeted, processed, and classified. In the process, units were disbanded and the personnel utilized wherever the need was greatest. Every effort was made to assign reservists to tasks which would best realize their training and skills.

Those reserve Marines not assigned to the division rendered assistance in almost every function at Camp Pendleton. They served in the service and administrative organizations, in training with, and on the staff of the Training and Replacement Regt, and in working parties which assumed many of the mounting out responsibilities of the 1st Mar Div so that it might receive the maximum amount of training before shipping out for combat operations.

The assignment of newly mobilized reservists to a combat unit in such a short space of time was contrary to both the desires of the Marine Corps and previously established plans which called for extensive periods of training. The decision was reached only after close consultation and much soul-searching among high-ranking Marine officers. But the harsh realities of a highly demanding war offered no choice, and the decision was made.

Basically, the problem was to select those reservists who, by virtue of previous training or military experience, were best qualified for inclusion in the 1st Mar Div. And it was in the vital interests of both the division and the individual reservists that the task be performed with the minimum degree of error. An inadequately trained man is too often a liability in a combat situation, endangering his own life and those of his fellows, and lowering the combat efficiency of his unit.

But since the urgency of the 1st Mar Div’s departure did not permit the usual deliberative process of analyzing all training records, interviewing the men and their officers, and giving practical tests, criteria for the selection of reservists were established which would compromise a rapid selection, the means available, and the standards of selection with the task to be performed. Accordingly, two general categories were set up: Combat-Ready and Non-Combat Ready. Combat-Ready was defined as applying to those reservists who had been members of the Organized Reserve for two years and had attended one summer camp and 72 drills or two summer camps and 32 drills, or who were veterans with more than 90-days service in the Marine Corps. Non-Combat ready was applied to all reservists who did not meet these standards, and had a subdivision called Recruit Class which applied to all who had less than one year service in the Organized Reserve or had poor drill attendance records. The establishment of these standards was neither hasty nor lightly considered, but represented the collective professional judgment of some of the most experienced field commanders in the Marine Corps. Even so, the Combat-Ready standard fell far short of representing an optimum Marine Corps goal for training; however, it could be said that these reservists, while certainly not as well trained as the Marine Corps would have liked them to be, nor as well trained as they would be if more time had been available, nevertheless had the training required for a combat assignment.

Serving to increase the problem of selecting Combat-Ready reservists was the fact that, while the majority of the reserve units reported with their records in excellent shape, many either became separated from their records in the hurried movement or were unable to complete them. By itself, this lack would not have resulted in a serious situation, but coupled with the narrow time limitations it created a problem which had unfortunate repercussions. For example, the margin of error in the selection of reservists for combat assignment was increased, MOSs were scrambled, and the payment of some personnel was delayed by as much as two months. In addition, the dearth of reliable records imposed a severe handicap upon the already strained administrative staffs of both Camp Pendleton and the 1st Mar Div at a time when efficiency and dispatch were at a premium.

To help overcome this lack, reservists were interviewed before the decision was made as to whether or not they were qualified for the Combat-Ready category. In these interviews, reservists often manifested a strong desire to be classified as Combat-Ready, and this desire influenced many of them to present an overly optimistic picture of their previous training. However, a reservist’s statement to the effect that he considered himself qualified for combat was not accepted as proof of his fitness, and his unit officers were questioned as to his qualifications. At the same time, any reservist who felt that he needed more training, and so suggested, was at once removed from further consideration for immediate assignment to combat duty with no prejudice.

Reservists falling into the Non-Combat Ready category, but not in the Recruit Class, were generally assigned to the Continental Security Forces in order to restore the 50 percent reduction in those forces: to replace regulars in overseas security detachments on a man-for-man basis and thus make additional regulars available for combat; and to the Training and Replacement Regt where they could make up their training deficiencies and themselves become available for combat as replacements for the 1st Mar Div. Approximately 30 percent fell in this category. Reservists falling in the Recruit Class, approximately 18 to 20 percent, were generally assigned to recruit training and some, temporarily, to administrative and service organizations.

Approximately 50 percent of the reservists, including all officers, fell into the Combat-Ready category, and 2,891 of these were assigned to the 1st Mar Div. However, as the 1st Mar Div, less one RCT, approached war strength, it received instructions to active the 7th Marines (Reinf), its third regimental combat team, and to embark the regiment not later than 1 September. And to make the achievement of this deadline possible, the Commandant ordered virtually all of the little remaining effective combat strength of the 2d Mar Div, the 6th Marines, at peace strength of less than two battalions, to Camp Pendleton for the purpose of serving as cadres in building up the new regiment. But of the total number of Marines involved in this transfer, approximately 50 percent were Combat-Ready Reservists.

Meanwhile, the 1st Mar Div, while engaged in the process of mounting out, transferred approximately 300 of its men into the division’s rear echelon to be utilized in the build-up of the 7th Marines. And to provide additional regular troops for this regiment, Marine Corps posts and stations and security forces within the continental limits of the United States again furnished the increments. Just as rapidly as possible Non-Combat Ready reservists again stepped into the breach to relieve regulars at those establishments.

By so drawing Marines from widely scattered sources, it was possible to activate the 7th Marines (Reinf) on 17 August. The units of the 6th Marines were re-designated, and as soon as personnel became available, new units were formed. However, once again Combat-Ready reservists were called upon to bring these units on the eve of their departure for combat operations, to the strength commensurate with the missions of which they were designed. The reservists’ contribution to the strength of the 7th Marines is graphically illustrated by the fact that the 1st Bn absorbed 805 reservists, and the 2d Bn 433, while Co I of the 3d Bn was composed almost entirely of reservists. [However, upon the joining of 3/6, which became 3/7, the battalion was completely reorganized, and the reservists of Co I were distributed among all battalion units so that an approximately equal percentage of reservists to regulars would exist.] In all, there were 1,809 reservists in the regiment on the date of its departure.

Meanwhile, the 1st Mar Div, less the 7th Marines, sailed for the Far East. The first cargo vessels weighed anchor on 10 August, followed on 14 August by the first attack transport. Loading was completed on 21 August, and the last ship sailed on the 24th. And a week later, on 1 September, the 7th Marines (Reinf), less one infantry battalion, shipped out, close on the heels of its parent organization. In the period of one month approximately two-thirds of a war-strength Marine division had been built up from a 31 July strength of approximately 3,600 Marines, and was en route to the Far East. And in three more weeks a war-strength Marine division was smashing at the gates of Seoul. [The ground elements of the brigade joined the division and became the 5th Marines (Reinf).]

Thus, the buildup, transportation, and commitment of a war-strength Marine division was an accomplished fact, even if in retrospect this achievement still gives many responsible officers pause. But perhaps the pause would be of shorter duration if one salient feature of this achievement was noted and remembered. On 15 September, the day on which the United Nation forces in Korea went over to the attack with a vengeance, Marines of the Organized Reserve constituted approximately 19 percent of the 1st Mar Div’s total strength.


Men of the Marine division which stormed ashore at Inchon and moved toward Seoul had the comforting knowledge that they would be supported by their fellow Marines of the 1st Mar Air Wing, who in the post World War II years had made the development of close air support techniques and skills a must. Two carrier-based regular Marine VMF squadrons rendered excellent air support during the initial assault. A week later, while Kimpo airfield was still under intermittent enemy fire, three additional VMF’s, newly arrived in the Far East, began operating from that field, adding their weight to the drive on Seoul. What the reservists in the 1st Mar Div probably did not know, however, was that a large fraction of the newly arrived VMF’s was composed of organized aviation reservists, who, like themselves, had been plucked but seven weeks earlier from the normal civilian pursuits of young Americans.

Once more, the Marine Reserve had played a vital role in a noteworthy achievement of the Marine Corps. During this seven-week period, 937 aviation reservists had moved from civilian life in the United States to combat operations in Korea. And while this is by no means the end of the story of Marine aviation in the present emergency, neither is it the beginning, for the story goes at least as far back as the first days of the Korean conflict.

The outbreak of hostilities on 25 June, and the increased Marine Corps commitments which soon followed, found Marine aviation in an enviable position as compared with Marine ground forces. Since the initial demands upon the 30 VMF’s and 12 GCISs of the Organized Aviation Reserve were comparatively small, the needs of Marine aviation were filled quickly and easily. And even when demands increased sharply, it never became necessary to drain completely the Organized Reserve aviation pool.

The first demand came on 23 July, when the personnel of three Reserve VMF and six GCI squadrons were ordered to active duty in order to provide trained Marines for the 1st Wing which had furnished the units and personnel of MAG-33. And of the total 1,474 reservists ordered to duty approximately 1,400 actually reported at MCAS, El Toro, on 1 August. The arrival date of these personnel initiated a month of feverish but efficient activity at El Toro. In rapid succession, a new Tactical Air Control Squadron and a new GCIS were activated, orders were received to move the rear echelon of the 1st Wing to the Far East, and MAG-15, including VMF-212, was transferred from Cherry Point to El Toro.

In short order, the necessary unit transfers and personnel joinings were made and the authorized composition and strength of the 1st Mar Air Wing achieved. Units of the wing mounted out and sailed for the Far East on 17 and 24 August. And the remaining units of the wing, including an augmentation detail for MAG-33 containing 60 percent reservists, sailed on 1 September. By 17 September, all these units had arrived at their destinations. Their timely arrival more than doubled Marine aviation strength in the Far East, and the number of VMFs available for the Inchon-Seoul operation was increased from two and a half to six. Of the six VMFs, five participated directly in the operation and rendered valuable air support to ground elements.

Following the outstanding success of the Inchon-Seoul operation, the remnants of the once confident and deadly North Korean Army fled in the direction of the Manchurian sanctuary, and the end of the Korean conflict seemed in sight. Therefore, during the fall of 1950 the need for Marine air and ground units diminished appreciably. However, toward the end of November, Chinese Communist forces streamed across the Manchurian border and entered the struggle in greatly superior numbers. As a result, the air and ground needs of the Marine Corps again swung upward. To bring Marine aviation into balance with its requirements, additional aviation units of the Organized Reserve were ordered to active duty whenever and wherever they were needed.

The circumstances surrounding this mobilization were almost ideal. Approximately 95 percent of the officers were combat-experienced in their then current billets. Of the enlisted, almost all staff non-commissioned officers were skilled technicians, and only approximately 10 percent of the personnel in the lower ranks were in need of basic training. And since demands came gradually no difficulty was experienced in filling these promptly and with first-rate Marines. In fact, five VMFs were ordered to active duty as units preserving their squadron designations, and 27 units were mobilized as personnel.

By 1 March 1951, 20 of the 30 reserve fighter squadrons and all 12 of the reserve ground control intercept squadrons in existence on 30 June 1950 had been mobilized. Of the 6,341 Marines in the Organized Aviation Reserve, a total of 5,240 had been ordered to active duty, and, of these, the impressive number of 4,897, or approximately 93.4 percent, had actually reported to their stations.

Impressive as these achievements may be, the real significance of the Aviation Reserve’s contribution lies in the fact that while the reservists serving in Korea represented approximately 25 percent of the total strength of the 1st Wing by the end of September, the Aviation Reserve was ready to increase that number greatly with little or no loss in combat efficiency. Had it become necessary to do so, the number of aviation reservists in the Far East conceivably could have been increased by 400 or 500 percent. Significantly, seven months later, 51.5 percent of the officers and 36.5 percent of the enlisted men in the 1st Wing were reservists. And even after having met all the demands of Marine aviation, there still remained ten well-trained fighter squadrons in the reserve pool. These might well be called the "mobile reserve" of Marine aviation, for their role in the operations of Marine air is analogous to the mobile reserve of ground forces.


On 30 June 1950, the Volunteer Reserve was, by far, the largest component of the Marine Corps Reserve. Although this branch was designed primarily for persons who desired affiliation with the Marine Corps but whose personal activities or location did not permit them to participate conveniently in the Organized Reserve program, the Marine Corps, nevertheless, considered the Volunteer Reserve an important source of trained manpower.

Therefore, when, in the first week of August, a review of Marine Corps assigned and projected commitments revealed that the number of immediately available members of the Organized Reserve was inadequate to meet demands, plans were initiated to tap the Volunteer Reserve. Five days later, on 5 August, the Commandant warned the Marine Corps Reserve Districts that approximately 60 percent of this branch would shortly be called to active duty. And 10 days later, on 15 August, the first calls went out.

The Marine Corps’ confidence that the Volunteer Reserve would not be found wanting in either numbers of quality is justified by the fact that six and a half months after the first of its members were ordered to active duty, there were approximately 68 percent more Volunteer Reservists on active duty than there were Organized Reservists. And in October, 1950, a survey revealed that approximately 99 percent of Volunteer Reserve officers and 77.5 percent of enlisted were veterans of World War II.

Commencing on 31 August with 5,951, the strength of Volunteer Reservists on active duty rose to 50,950 by 28 February. In one peak month alone, October, 20,613, of whom 1,002 were newly enlisted, joined the regular establishment. However, statistics alone do not tell the complete story. Since the service commitments of Volunteer Reservists in an inactive status are less than those of Organized Reservists, their civilian commitments and responsibilities are normally higher, and no statistical column can describe the attitude displayed by, and sacrifice often imposed upon, those ordered to active duty. It is an unqualified tribute to the Volunteer Reserve as a whole that better than 80 percent of those ordered reported as directed. [Of the 20 percent non-available, 12-15 percent were physically disqualified and the remainder were discharged because of hardship, delayed for their own or the government’s convenience, etc.]

Their direct contribution to the Marine Corps’ efforts in Korea was very material. Arriving too late to participate in the buildup of the 1st Mar Div and the 1st Mar Air Wing, they later made up the bulk of the replacement drafts which joined these organizations overseas. Volunteer Reservists also filled out the strength of the forces providing security at vital posts, where their arrival made possible the release of regulars to the 1st Mar Div on a man-for-man basis. By 32 December, there were approximately 800 reservists in a total overseas security force of over 4,000.

On the domestic scene, members of the Volunteer Reserve fleshed out the skeletonized 2d Div, in which there were approximately 20,000 reservists (organized and volunteer) by 31 December 1950. In the domestic security force, volunteers made up a substantial part of the approximately 3,000 reservists who were taking up the slack left by the departure of the regulars. They also assumed important duties in the training and replacement commands, recruit training, maintenance, and a myriad of specialized tasks. And their availability helped to make it possible for the Marine Corps to be the first of the Armed Forces to initiate a rotation program for the benefit of personnel with the longest service in Korea.


Rotation had its beginning on 5 March when 1,200 Marines arrived at San Francisco from Korea. And by the end of May, a total of about 6,000, including reservists, had been rotated. By this time, regular resources had begun to catch up with commitments. And in the early part of June the Marine Corps began releasing reservists from active duty, the first of approximately 64,000 who, barring unforeseen circumstances, will have been released by June, 1952. Thus, as the cycle of the active duty service of Marine reservists approaches its end, it is fitting that the Marine Corps acknowledge, and the nation recognize, the remarkable role which the Marine Reserve has played in preserving American security during the present emergency.

Coming from every state in the Union, reservists swelled the ranks in great numbers, until by the middle of April they comprised 45 percent of the total Marine Corps strength. In Korea they helped contain the flame of war, and at home they prepared and are now ready for immediate employment should the Korean match touch off a general conflagration.

Wherever they served, Marine reservists performed their duties so well that they became indistinguishable from regulars. And in the last analysis, the record of the Marine Corps Reserve is almost inseparable from that of the regular establishment. But to the extent that the story of the Reserve can be set apart and told, it is a story which undeniably deserves telling.



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