End of an Era - Farewell to 1/12
Farewell to 1/12
By: Kayla Walker - with help from the Marines of 1/12 past and present
1st Battalion, 12th Marines has strong lineage dating back to the days following the attack at Pearl Harbor. Activated originally as 4th Battalion, 12th Marines in San Di- ego on 1 September 1942 under the newly established 3d Marine Division, they battalion quickly depart- ed to support the initial planned amphibious assault on Bougainville and participated in several pivotal WWII campaigns. Following a brief deactivation after the conclusion of World War II, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines was once again reactivated to help maintain the amphibious and readiness capabilities of the Far East Command during the Korean conflict. As Artillery began to evolve, so too did the Marines of 1/12. With over four years of participation during the Vietnam War, the battalion and batteries of 1/12 provided a unique level of versatility and innovation, facilitating the tactical use of artillery with the establishment and use of fire support bases, execution of artillery raids, and the creation of provisional artillery battalions in support of Marine Task Units. The battalion operated from combat bases all over
Vietnam and during this time experienced its highest number of losses in its history. 1/12 saw many changes after the conclusion of the Vietnam War until June 1971 when the battalion was reassigned to 1st Marine Brigade and deployed to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii where it has since made its home.
Over the next several decades , 1st Battalion, 12th Marines saw many reassignments from 1st Marine Brigade which was later re-designated as 1st Marine Amphibious Brigade to 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and finally following Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm 1/12 was reassigned to 3d Marine Division as a
part of III MEF, under which it would continue to serve valiantly during Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
Following the announcement of Force Design 2030 in March of 2020, 1/12 began its transition to support the standing up of the first Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR), rapidly advancing naval and joint force integration and experimentation, setting conditions for the fielding of the Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS), and divesting of personnel and equipment for eventual deactivation. Following the deactivation of Battery A, Battery B was realigned to 3d MLR’s 3d Littoral Combat Team, where it will eventually become the service’s first Medium Missile Battery (MMSL). Battery C was deactivated in March of 2023. Lastly on, May 26, 2023, 1st Battalion, 12th Marines will host its official deactivation ceremony marking the end of an era.
While this ceremony marks the battalion’s official deactivation, it will not mark the end of 1/12’s legacy. It cannot be denied that there is something special about serving with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines.
Whether attributable to the beautiful views of the Koolau Mountain’s, the unique and challenging training conducted at Pohakuloa Train- ing Area (PTA), or the close-knit Spartan Ohana that is made there, it leaves a distinct impact on every m
arine and sailor who has served with 1/12. An impact so distinct that many a young Lt’s, having forged their artillery skillsets under the tutelage of 1/12’s experienced staff noncommissioned officers corps, have made a point to return later in their careers as Commanding Officers.
Col (R) John Sullivan served with Battery B as a young Lt and served as commanding officer during the September 11th attack making his time at 1/12 especially memorable. With a military career spanning over 30 years, has always considered 1/12 his home.
LtCol (R) Sean Charney, who served with 1/12 as a 2ndLt in the late 90’s and returned as the Commanding Officer from 2010-2012 fondly looks back on the bonds of friendship and support that were vital to the resiliency of the battalions’ members, especially during their combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Col (R) Rudy Janiczek served as Battalion Commander (2004-2006) during Battery C’s deployment with the 31st MEU to Iraq where they provided fires for Marines during the Battle of Fallujah, he remembers his marines as “versatile, capable, and effective as any I had served with before or since.” Col (R) Michael Roach who commanded both 1/12 and 12th Marine Regiment is confident that the legacy of 1/12 will live on in the Marines and Sailors who still remain on and off duty, and more importantly through the history it forged in WWII, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the War on Terror. After a 26-year USMC career, he chose to host his retirement at 1/12 in 2022.
MajGen Stephen Lizsewski, the current CG of MCIPAC, served with 1/12 as his first unit when he made it to the FMF in 1991 and arrived shortly after their time in Desert Shield/Storm. He was honored to be serving in a battalion full of combat veterans as a new 2ndLt and was blessed to be “mentored” by “some of the very best cannoneers I have ever known”. When he returned to take command in 2006, he was grateful to see 1/12 had never lost their commitment to the relentless pursuit of excellence and notes “it was the NCO’s who made the battalion great.” MajGen Liszewski recently had the chance to spend some time with 1/12 and was not surprised to find that even in 2023, they still have a tremendous can-do spirit and believes they have rightly earned their place among the very best artillery units in the world.
When asked about his time with 1/12 and what made it unique for him and his family, Col (R) Christopher Tavuchis stated ”Anyone who has served with the King of Battle, the 1st Battalion, 12th Marines will attest to the truly special organization it is. Regardless of MOS, one enlistment, one tour, one visit, everyone will remember the sights, the sounds, the smells, the professionalism, and, most importantly, the “Ohana” that is 1/12, still permeates the unit, even as we prepare to case her colors. For me, Shelagh, and our family – both professional and personal – I make no exaggeration that it was our highest honor to serve with that unit in combat and to celebrate the glory that is our chosen profession. The battalion, which served and fought in many a clime and place, in places like Bougainville, Guam and Iwo Jima... in Phu Bai, Danang, Cam Lo, Khe Sanh and Camp Carroll, Vietnam...Operation Desert Shield...then twice in Operation Iraqi Freedom, and most recently closing out her battle lineage shooting artillery in Afghanistan, is nothing short of a national treasure. Regardless of where the colors reside (however temporarily), the 1/12 DNA is in so many of our leaders and families that the unit will always endure. May the spirit of St. Barbara always keep an eye on the 1/12 Marines, sailors, and their families.”
Even with its days numbered, 1/12 continues its legacy of excellence and is a prime representation of the King of Battle. As stated by the current Battalion Commander, LtCol Joseph Gill II, “1st Battalion, 12th Marines, is truly a special battalion. Being geographically separated from our immediate higher headquarters, and operating in the Hawaiian Island Chain, imposes complexities and unique challenges that must be accounted for across the DOTMLPF spectrum. Thankfully, we have been blessed with some of the best Marines and Sail- ors for the job. Recently, we have been a frontrunner in force design and Joint
Force integration, making every effort to set conditions for the success of 3d Marine Littoral Regiment, the fielding of the NMESIS, and the practiced leverage of capabilities provided by our joint counterparts. We have made tremendous strides in establishing relationships, advancing tactics, techniques and procedures for effective command and control in distributed and/or electromagnetic frequency contested operating environments, and providing valuable feedback on a number of future warfighting concepts. Even as we deactivate, we remain confident these efforts will contribute immensely to the Marine Corps for years to come.”
A Hui Hou 1/12!
About the Author:
Kayla Walker is the Marketing and Events Manager and former Deputy Director at USFAA. She has been a Marine Artillery Spouse since 2014.