The formation of the Second Battalion was included in the decision to form the Sixth Regiment of Marines in order to send a brigade of Marines to France. The Battalion was activated on July 11, 1917 at a newly purchased Navy Department training site at Quantico, Virginia. Shortly after formation, the Second Battalion encountered a serious shortage of Junior Officers. To fill the complement, new officers were drawn from old non-commissioned officers, former members of the Marine Corps and the National Guard, and graduates of military academies with little combat experience.
The Second Battalion consisted of the 78th, 79th, 80th, and 96th companies and was commanded by Major Thomas H. Holcomb who relieved an ailing LtCol Harry Lee. The Company Commanders were for the most part Captains who had served approximately ten years in the Marine Corps, and whose experience and dedication helped develop confidence and initiative in the younger officers. A small nucleus of non-commissioned officers and experienced men were distributed judiciously throughout the Second Battalion to form the backbone of the companies.
By October 1917, the Second Battalion was well equipped and trained for war.It was not until January 19, 1918, that the Second Battalion finally left for League Island, Philadelphia, preparatory for embarking for France as part of the 4th Brigade, American Expeditionary Force. An uneventful crossing of the Atlantic followed, and the Second Battalion landed at San Nazaire on the 8th of February.They immediately entrained for Dambalin, Vosges in France arriving there on the 10th of February, and commenced intense training for trench warfare. on March 17, 1918, the Second Battalion moved to Camp Massa where it remained in reserve until relieving the Third Battalion, Sixth Regiment on the 26th of March.The Second Battalion's first combat action was repelling light attacks, such as trench raids, and conducting constant patrols.
The Second Battalion took part in the defense of Paris across the Chateau-Thierry-Paris road later that year. on June 6, 1918, it was ordered into the attack at Belleau Wood, west of Chateau-Thierry, the offensive that brought honor and commendation to the Fourth Marine Brigade of the American Expeditionary Force. one attack by the Second Battalion was made across six hundred yards of open ground under intense artillery and machine gun fire. In recognition of the brilliant courage, the vigor, spirit and tenacity of the Marines of the Fourth Brigade who over came all hardships and losses and captured the village of Bouresches and Belleau Wood in June 1918, the French renamed the wood the Bois de la Brigade de Marine. Additionally the Fifth and Sixth Marines were cited in the Orders of the French Army, and awarded the Croix de Guerre with Palm.
The Second Battalion then took part in battles in the Soissons-Chateau-Thierry sector.During severe fighting, losses were heavy and only three company officers remained when the Battalion was relieved on July 19, 1918. For their remarkable ardor and tenacity in rolling back the enemy, the Fifth and Sixth Marines received their second honor when cited in the Orders of the French Army Corps and awarded the Gilt Star to the Croix de Guerre.
During August, the battalion rested and reorganized, clothing was reissued and replacements assigned. on September 2, 1918, the Second Battalion received orders to march into the St. Mihiel sector as part of the first wholly American grand offensive.The advance on Limey commenced September 12, 1918. In October, the Second Battalion took part in operations in the Champagne sector where they were awarded their third citation in the Orders of the French Army, receiving their second Palm for the Croix de Guerre and the French Fourragere. The Second Battalion, to this day, proudly displays the French Fourragere as a special honor to the brave Marines who fought in these campaigns and earned this honor through blood and sacrifice.
During this campaign two Marines from second Battalion earned Medals of Honor. Private John Joseph Kelly, 78th Company, born June 24, 1898, Chicago, Illinois and Corporal John Henry Pruitt, 78th Company, born October 4, 1896, Faderville, Arkansas, were awarded both the Army and the Navy Medals of Honor for their actions at Blanc Mont Ridge, France on October 3, 1918.Gunnery Sergeant Fred W. Stockman, 96th Company, born March 16, 1881, Detroit, Michigan was the third Marine of the Second Battalion to be awarded the Medal of Honor during World War I.
On the 19th of October, the Second Battalion departed for the Aisne River region and took part in the Meuse-Argonne operations from the 1st of November to the 11th. The Second Battalion then participated in the operations at Toulon-Troyon and Marabache. During November 1918, the battalion participated in the march to the Rhine River, crossing the Rhine on the 13th of December, were it took up positions for the occupation.
The Second Battalion left Germany on July 19, 1919 and returned to Quantico, Virginia on the 9th of August after taking part in the Second Division Parade in New York which was reviewed by Major General John A. Lejeune, Division Commander. on August 20, 1919, the Second Battalion was deactivated for nearly three years.
On June 12, 1922, the Second Battalion was reactivated at Quantico, Virginia. During June and July it participated in maneuvers at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and was attached to the Marine Corps Expeditionary Force. The Sixth Regiment saw action in the Dominican Republic and Cuba in 1924. Again deactivated on October 31, 1924, the Second Battalion remained deactivated until March 26, 1927. The Battalion was reorganized at Marine Barracks, Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and destined to join the Third Brigade on expeditionary duty in China. The Second Battalion sailed from San Diego on April 17, 1927, and moved into Tientsin, China on the 6th of June. After a year and a half of guard duty, the Second Battalion relocated in January 1929 to San Diego, California and was once again deactivated on March 31, 1929.
With the establishment of the Fleet Marine Force in 1934, the Second Battalion, 6th Marines was reactivated on December 1, 1934 and located in San Diego, California. From 1934 to 1937 the Battalion participated in fleet maneuvers in the Central Pacific. In 1937, conditions in China led to a request by the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet that additional Marines be sent to China to augment forces there engaged in protecting the lives and property of Americans. The Second Battalion deployed to Shanghai, China during August and September 1937 and was assigned to the 2nd Marine Brigade. After trying circumstances in China, the battalion was returned to San Diego during February through April 1938.
The Second Battalion, 6th Marines was part of the primary infantry unit for Second Brigade when the Brigade was redesignated the Second Marine Division on February 1, 1941. During May through July 1941, the Second Battalion was reassigned to the First Provisional Marine Brigade and deployed to garrison Reykjavik, Iceland against German invasion. Leaving there in March 1942, the Battalion returned to San Diego, California and was reassigned to the Second Marine Division. During the fall of 1942, the Second Battalion sailed to Wellington, New Zealand and commenced advanced combat training. on January 4, 1942, the Battalion landed on Guadalcanal where it played an important part in the final days of that campaign. The experience gained on Guadalcanal served the Battalion well when it landed with the Second Marine Division on bloody Tarawa, November 21, 1943. Heavy casualties resulted from the fierce fighting that took place. Along with the other units of the Division, the Second Battalion received the Presidential Unit Citation, the nation's highest unit award, for the Tarawa Operation.
On June 15, 1944, the Second Battalion landed with the Sixth Marines on Saipan in the Marianas Islands. Positioned on the left of the Division Beaches, the Second Battalion fought toward Garapan in almost continuous heavy action against Japanese tank-infantry forces. For Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, the fight continued until they reached the northern end of Saipan, and the island was secure. A short rehabilitation and training period occurred on Saipan. Then on 25th of July, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines landed with the Sixth Marines on Tinian. Private First Class Robert Lee Wilson, born May 24, 1921, in Centralia, Illinois was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on Tinian, August 4, 1944.
As part of the new Tenth Army's floating reserve, the Second Battalion participated in diversionary feints off the southeastern coast of the island Okinawa April 1 - 2, 1945. The Battalion was not ordered ashore on Okinawa and returned to its base on Saipan where it was stationed when victory was announced. Following V-J Day, the Second Battalion deployed to Nagasaki, Japan in September 1945 and participated in the occupation of Japan until July 1946.
A series of reassignments and relocations followed the war. In July and August 1946, the second Battalion relocated to Camp Pendleton, California and was reassigned to the Third Marine Brigade in September. After reassignment to the First Marine Division in July 1947, the battalion was deactivated on October 1, 1947. on October 17, 1949, Second Battalion, Sixth Marines was reactivated at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and returned to the Second Marine Division. Again deactivated August 6, 1950, the Battalion was reactivated 20 days later and once again became a part of the Second Division. Since March 1951 the Battalion has deployed at various times as Battalion Landing Team 2/6 in the Mediterranean and Caribbean. The battalion participated in landings in Lebanon in October 1953, and the Cuban Missile Crisis, October through December 1962.
The Battalion participated in numerous training exercises throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's. Second Battalion, 6th Marines participated as part of the Multinational Peace-Keeping Force in Lebanon from February through June 1983. The Battalion returned to Beirut as relief for First Battalion, Eighth Marines after the infamous bombing of the Marine Barracks on October 23, 1983.
On March 3, 1989, Second Battalion, 6th Marines was deactivated and placed into cadre status during a ceremony conducted on the Camp Geiger Parade Field. on July 23, 1994, Second Battalion, 6th Marines was reactivated at Cuzco Wells, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This was accomplished by redesignating 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines as 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines. This occurred while the Battalion was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for Operation Sea Signal, the interdiction, security, and processing of Haitian migrants. Fox Company, reinforced, remained through August 1994, providing security for Haitian migrants being transported to and from the migrant holding camps. In September 1994 the battalion's main force returned to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to provide security for Cuban migrants. In October 1994, the battalion was relieved of its humanitarian duties and returned to Camp Lejeune.
In September 1995, during a Landing Force Sixth Fleet deployment to the Mediterranean, Battalion Landing Team 2/6 was called upon to support United Nations and
2d Battalion, 6th Marines, was the Ground Combat Element (GCE) for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's LF6F 2-02 deployment, forming the nucleus for all of the MEU's ground combat forces that include attached tank and light armored vehicles, artillery, amphibious vehicles, engineers, and reconnaissance assets. The primary mission of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, as the 22nd MEU's Ground Combat Element, is to provide the unit with its main combat punch. Attachments bring the battalion's strength up to approximately 1,100 Marines and sailors, and include combat engineers, light armored vehicles, tanks, artillery, and amphibious assault vehicles.
From April to May 2000, Echo company and elements of H&S (STA) of the Battalion deployed to Kosovo where they took part in Operation Dynamic Response.
The entire battalion deployed and took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2003 to May 2003.
From August 2003 to April 2004, the battalion deployed to Okinawa, Japan for a UDP. The Second Battalion, 6th Marines became a part of 4th Marines.
Starting in August 2004, the entire battalion became part of the 4th MEB and acted as the Anti Terrorism Force for the US. Company G deployed in September 2004 to Baghdad, Iraq, where its mission included providing security to U.S.