Recognizing 97 years of service

5 Sep 2013 | Lance Cpl. Brendan Roethel

Ninety-seven years ago President Woodrow Wilson signed the Naval Appropriations Act of 1916, which established the Marine Corps Reserve on Aug. 28, 1916. Through the years the reserve force has come a long way to become the largest command in the Marine Corps.

Their involvement in every foreign conflict since its inception, and their current presence all around the globe speaks volumes of their importance to not only the history of the Corps, but to America’s history as well. 

The Marine Corps Reserves have undergone several changes since their beginning in 1916. The first of many major changes began in 1918 when women received the right to serve in their ranks, and in 1925 when they began adding aviation units to their command.  

During World War I the number of activated reservists increased from 35 to 6,440, which helped shape the Marine Corps Reserve into a more organized and impactful force. The impact of World War I lead to the Naval Reserve Act of 1938, which compartmentalized the Marine Corps Reserve into the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve.

As World War II began, reservists became highly involved and helped shape the legacy of the Marine Corps during that time. Of the 589,852 Marines who served during the war, approximately 70 percent were reservists. More than half of the 82 Marine Medal of Honor recipients from WWII were reservists.

Reservists continued their service to the nation with their participation in the Korean War. An estimated 130,000 reservists were activated during the war and 13 earned the Medal of Honor. 
In July 1962, the Marine Corps Reserve was re-structured to cover the 4th Marine Division and the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing. The 4th Mar. Div. relocated its headquarters from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA., to join 4th MAW in New Orleans in 1977.

During the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s, the Marine Corps Reserve was not mobilized as an organization, however individual reservists volunteered to serve with active-duty units. 
In 1990 through 1991, they continued their engagement in overseas operations during the Persian Gulf War. During the conflict, 15 percent of all Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm Marines were in the Reserves.

In 1992, the Marine Reserve Force was activated and became the largest command in the Marine Corps. Two years later, it was re-designated as Marine Forces Reserve in order to keep it in line with their Fleet Marine Force Command counterparts.

After Sept. 11, 2001, many reserve units were activated. They have since served all around the world from Southwest Asia to Afghanistan, Africa and many other locations. Marine Reserve units and active-duty units operated shoulder to shoulder in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. 

 “Our Marine reservists are Marines first, and there was absolutely no difference in performance on the ground, in the air, in logistics,” said Gen. Michael Hagee, the 33rd commandant of the Marine Corps.