Prior to the formation of a Beachmaster Unit, a Shore Party was used as the integral party within a combat division in a Marine Pioneer Group or an Army Combat Engineer Group. In both services, the Shore Party formed the Underwater Demolition Team, Naval Pontoon Unit, and the Boat Pool. The Beach Party elements of the Shore Party were provided by the APA’s of the amphibious task force. Each APA provided a beach party, approximately two officers and thirty men, to support the landing of the battalion of troops. The Beach Party would land at the objective area and take charge of the beach in a manner similar to today. But the Beach Party was normally withdrawn with its’ parent ship. The concept was that the Shore Party was instrumental to the assault only and would be relieved promptly by garrison elements, including a garrison beach party, which would unload follow-on shipping. The Shore Party organization was inadequate, inefficient, and deficient in training. These weaknesses led to the formation of the Beach Party Battalion. The Beach Party Battalion, which included a Beachmaster Unit, was established for experimental purposes in July 1947. In July 1948, the Chief of Naval Operations ordered the commissioning of the Beachmaster Unit as a separate command with designation as Beachmaster Unit ONE (BMU-1). BMU-1 was commissioned at the U.S. Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, California, 13 July 1949.
BMU-1 saw action with the First Marine Division during the amphibious assaults of Wonsan and Inchon, Korea in September and October 1950, and the evacuation of Hungman and Inchon during December 1950 and January 1951 (Presidential Unit Citation). For action while operating with Task Force 90 from August to September 1950 the Unit was awarded the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.
From August to November 1954, a Beachmaster detachment operating under Task Force 90, during operation PASSAGE TO FREEDOM directed the loading of Vietnamese refugees and French Union Military forces and equipment at Haiphong, French Indo-China. The Beachmasters were awarded the Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation (Ribbon of Friendship) for this operation which eventually led to the evacuation of more than 500,000 Vietnamese refugees. From January to February 1955, a Beachmaster detachment performed the beach landing craft phases of Operation FULLBACK which involved the armed evacuation of the Chinese Nationalist from the Tachen Islands from January to February 1955. In 1962 the Unit deployed in complete combat readiness to the Caribbean from October to December during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
From 1965 to 1973 Beachmasters participated in over 70 combat beach landings during the Vietnam conflict. Among the more significant landings were: March 8, 1965- 3500 Marines landed at Da Nang during the first amphibious landing of the Vietnam War; April 4, 1965- 3652 Marines and 756 support vehicles were landed at Da Nang and Hue; September 24, 1966- Operation DAGGER THRUST I- first amphibious raid, near Quinhon; January 28, 1966- Operation DOUBLE EAGLE – Largest landing since Inchon, over 5000 Marines (Navy Unit Commendation); May 1967- Operation BEAU CHARGER- Seven Beachmasters suffered casualties due to enemy mortar fire during the operation (Meritorious Unit Commendation); and in 1968 Beachmasters participated in the Defense of Hue during the Tet Offensive (Navy Unit Commendation).
From 1990 to present Beachmasters have had near continuous presence in the Arabian Gulf in support of United Nations Sanctions, two Iraq Wars, and the Global War on Terrorism. From August to September 1990, Beachmasters participated in the offload of the Maritime Prepositioning Force in Jubail, Saudi Arabia during Operation DESERT SHIELD. From January to March 1991 the Unit deployed in support of amphibious operations during Operation DESERT STORM (Navy Unit Commendation). In August 1994, Beachmaster Unit ONE deployed to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR, and again in August 1995 in support of Operation VIGILANT SENTINEL in response to United Nations Sanctions against Iraq. In 2002 Beach Party Teams (BPT) deployed to offload Amphibious Task Force West and Maritime Pre-positioning ships into Kuwait Naval Base. The Unit continued to offload troops and equipment into Kuwait from January to May 2003 in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (Navy unit Commendation). From March to May 2003 Beachmasters embarked in USS DULUTH assisted U.S Coast Guard port security units providing security to the Iraqi Gas and Oil Platforms KAAOT and MABOT (USCG Meritorious Unit Commendation).
Beachmasters have also been involved in several humanitarian and disaster relief efforts including the San Francisco earthquake (1989) and the Exxon Valdez oil spill (1990). From May to June 1991 the Unit provided humanitarian aid to Bangladesh after a tropical cyclone and tidal surge during Operation SEA ANGEL (Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Humanitarian Service Medal). In June 1991 the Unit assisted in the evacuation of military personnel and dependants after the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Republic of the Philippines during Operation FIERY VIGIL (Joint Meritorious Unit Award). In December 1992, Beachmasters directed the landing of units into Mogadishu, Somalia in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE. Beachmasters remained on the beach supporting the entire United Nations effort from March 1993 until the final withdraw of the United Nation Forces in March 1995. The Unit provided assistance from Hurricane Iniki in Kauai (1992), Flooding in the Tijuana River Valley (1993), Operation FREEDOM BANNER in Korea (1994), and Operation NATURAL FIRE in Kenya (2000). In December 2004, BMU-1 deployed a BPT in under 48 hours in support of Operation UNIFIED ASSISTANCE, providing immediate assistance to Tsunami victims across Southeast Asia (Humanitarian Service Medal). Again in October 2005 Beachmasters were among the first to deliver medical supplies, provisions, and heavy equipment to the Government of Pakistan after the devastating earthquake. In February 2007 BPT ECHO along with reservists from CHARLIE and GOLF deployed to Guatemala for one month in support of Humanitarian Support over the Shore (HSOTS) and Operation HANDCLASP. They transported 415 Pieces of Equipment, tools and humanitarian supplies across the beach. Their efforts were instrumental in assisting the SOUTHCOM meet its readiness goals and helped demonstrate that our nation is a valued partner in the region.
Today, the Unit's Teams embark in Amphibious Ships and deploy as part of an Expeditionary Strike Group. When not deployed, Beachmasters routinely participate in Fleet and Theater exercises (RIMPAC, FOAL EAGLE, COBRA GOLD, CARAT, KERNEL BLITZ BRIGHT STAR, JLOTS, and TALISMAN SABRE) and provide a wide variety of support services at Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, and throughout the Southern California operation area. Throughout an illustrious history, from combat operations to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, the Beachmasters have carried out the command, “Land the Landing Force,” with skill, professionalism, and dedication. BMU 1 UNIT AWARDS