The Paramarines were a short-lived specialized combat unit of the United States Marine Corps, trained to be dropped from planes by parachute to capture critical points like airfields and conduct reconnaissance. Though like all Airborne forces, though it will never be admitted, the Paramarines would have to rely on follow on forces to withstand attrition. To increase lethality and usability, Paramarines were also trained in small unit tactics, additional weapons training, and seaborne raids. The Paramarine not only had to be physically fit, because their school had a 40% fail rate, but you also had to be unmarried.
The first group of Paramarines trained at NAS Lakehurst in New Jersey in October 1940, eventually becoming the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion. They were followed by a second group in December 1940, forming the 2nd Marine Parachute Battalion. A third class trained at Camp Kearny in San Diego, in early 1941, eventually forming the 3rd Marine Parachute Battalion. After the United States entered World War II, two additional training camps opened in California and North Carolina.
After training, the 1st Parachute Battalion was attached to the 1st Marine Division for the invasion of Guadalcanal. Then on 7 August 1942 the unit conducted an amphibious assault on the small island of Gavutu and later seized the neighboring island of Tanambogo. The 1st Paramarines later went to Guadalcanal to fight alongside the 1st Marine Raiders in the Tasimboko raid and the Battle of Edson's Ridge. The 2nd Parachute Battalion also had notable success when they performed a diversionary raid on Choiseul Island in October 1943. Then the three parachute battalions formed the 1st Marine Parachute Regiment before their disbandment at Camp Pendleton in February 1944.
During the short tenure of the Paramarines, they were never really used in the airborne capacity except for a small group that parachuted into France as part of an Office of Strategic Services team to support the French Resistance.
Notably, after disbandment the Paramarines continued to exude their fighting spirit. The Paramarines at San Diego were transferred to the 5th Marine Division which landed on Iwo Jima. Former Paramarines, CPL Harlon H. Block and PFC Ira H. Hayes, assisted in the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi. A third former Paramarine, Sgt. Henry O. "Hank" Hansen, had participated in the first American flag-raising earlier that day. Five of the 81 Marine Medal of Honor recipients in World War II, were former Paramarines who were awarded the medal for their heroic actions on Iwo Jima.
(Pictured is Paramarines making a jump from a Douglas R4D, 1943, color by WETSU)
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