Flying Nightmares, Shadow Warriors deactivate due to force restructuring


As the drumbeat of force restructuring beats on in the Marine Corps, more units are folding up their colors.

Back in 2011, the Marine Corps laid out a plan for deactivating and realigning units to bring the Corps down from 202,000 to a “middleweight” force of 182,000, and much of that restructuring is going on right now.

Out at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Marine Attack Squadron 513 became the first Av-8B Harrier Squadron to deactivate on July 12.

Lt. Col. Samuel Smith, the commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron 513, right, and Maj. Andrew Diviney, the executive officer of VMA-513, left, salute the Marines of the squadron during VMA-513’s Deactivation Ceremony at the squadron hanger aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., July 12. /Cpl. William Waterstreet, USMC

“The Flying Nightmares” embarked on their last deployment last December, joining with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit for a float aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. The squadron cased its colors after 69 years of service that included combat in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA-513), Yuma Marine Corps Air Base, Az., fly in formation during Operation DESERT SHIELD./Wikipedia-public domain

“I stand before you as the last commander of the Flying Nightmares,” VMA-513 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Samuel “Dirty” Smith said during the decommissioning ceremony, according to the Yuma Sun. “Sad? Maybe. But I choose to think about this moment as a proud day. A day where we realize we are casing the colors on a winning unit. A unit that gets to go out at the absolute top of its game.”

Meanwhile, aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., the “Shadow Warriors” of 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines is inviting veterans from its 96-year history to participate in their deactivation ceremony Aug. 13.

Unlike some other units, 9th Marine Regiment is accustomed to shutting down only to form back up at the call of the Marine Corps.

It was first organized in 1917 to deploy to Guantanamo Bay, and disbanded in 1919 following the deployment.  Since then, 3/9 has been activated and disbanded five times–this will be the sixth. Most recently, the unit stood up again in 2006, organized as part of Camp Lejeune’s 2nd Marine Regiment to support the buildup of forces prior to the Iraq Surge.

Sergeant Cordero Gonzalez, center, squad leader, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, introduces himself to Afghan National Army Sgt. Gulagh, right, team leader, 1st Tolai, 1st Kandak, 4th Brigade, 215th Corps, before a partnered patrol, Nov. 16, 2012. The partnered patrols allow Marines to mentor and teach the ANA soldiers while working side by side their Afghan counterparts./Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

If history is a guide, we haven’t seen the last of the Shadow Warriors.


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1 Comment

  1. Sad – with a CMC that does not even stand up for his men, or attempt to fight the shut down of the Marine Corps… Amos was sent by Obama to shut down the Corps… and he is doing a great job of it.

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