MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, NORTH CAROLINA --
Leaders from 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division (2d MARDIV) recently welcomed “The Beirut Battalion” to their ranks, as the Marines and Sailors of 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (1st Bn., 8th Marines) were formally awarded the historic French Fourragere by 6th Marines at a ceremony aboard Camp Lejeune on November 25, 2020. The integration and Fourragere presentation is a result of 1st Bn., 8th Marines’ realignment under 6th Marine Regiment Headquarters, as part of the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Force Design 2030.
France awarded the Fourragere to the Marines and Sailors of the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments in 1918 for their heroism and bravery in the battles of Belleau Wood, Soissons, and Château-Thierry during World War I. To this day, the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments are the only Marine Corps units authorized to wear the Fourragere. This ceremony marks a rare occurrence, in that an infantry unit that is originally from neither of those regiments received the coveted Fourragere.
“It’s an honor that I don’t think they (the Marines and Sailors in 1st Bn., 8th Marines) realize, but they will understand the magnitude of what it means to wear that rope around their arm once they understand the history and lineage of where others came from,” stated Master Gunnery Sgt. Shawn E. Hughes, battalion operations chief for 1st Bn., 8th Marines. Hughes continued, “The first time I was awarded the French Fourragere was in 1997. I was assigned with 3rd Bn. 5th Marines. Standing in formation, I wasn’t sure what it was about, but once I read the history behind the French Fourragere, it was phenomenal, (and) astounding what the Marines went through during WWI in the trenches of Belleau Wood. It’s about more than me, it’s about the institution and the Marine to the left and right of them.”
This battalion-sized addition to 6th Marine Regiment signifies a visible change to the face of 2d MARDIV fighting units. As outlined in Force Design 2030, the Objective Force ground combat element will consist of seven infantry regimental headquarters, and allows for the Corps to build a more agile, efficient, and lethal fighting force.