After years of debate, the Marine Corps’ elite Special Operations force just made a major change, adopting the name of the combat-hardened Raider units that fought in the fierce Pacific island-hopping campaign of World War II. Marine officials marked the decision Friday with a brief ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., 10 months after the decision was made.
The move puts to end a long-running debate: How could Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) recognize the heritage of the fearsome Raiders while carving out its own identity as a 21st-century force involved in conflicts and secretive training missions across the globe?
Rank-and-file MARSOC Marines had called for the adoption of the Raider name for years, but it was blocked until now-retired Commandant Gen. James F. Amos last year reversed a decision he made in 2011. Marine officials said at the time that the general wanted it to be clear to MARSOC troops that they were “Marines first.”
The compromise was to adopt the Raider name for MARSOC’s units, while keeping the MARSOC name for the organization itself. MARSOC also didn’t adopt the iconic Raider logo — a white skull on a red diamond over a blue field with white stars — in its Raider unit insignias.
“MARSOC unit emblems will continue to use the existing blue Raider shield with Southern Cross, tying us into the Raider’s rich legacy and heritage, but we will not use the Raider skull, as the legacy of the skull belongs to the Raiders of WWII,” Capt. Barry Morris, a MARSOC spokesman, said in an e-mail.
MARSOC will continue to display a massive flag with the original Raider logo at its headquarter at Camp Lejeune, N.C. It also will authorize Marines to wear a patch with the logo out of uniform — but not in. That has occurred in the past, and proven controversial at times.
Here’s the World War II-era logo:
Here’s a look at the logos for the newly re-designated units. The “Southern Cross” stars shown the constellation under which Marines fought at Guadalcanal, and are featured in some other Marine Corps logos, as well.
1st Marine Raider Battalion
2nd Marine Raider Battalion
3rd Marine Raider Battalion
1st Marine Raider Support Battalion
2nd Marine Raider Support Battalion
3rd Marine Raider Support Battalion
Marine Raider Regiment
Marine Raider Support Group
The Marine Special Operations School will retain its old name. Its logo includes the Latin phrase “Victoria per Scientiam,” or victory through knowledge: