The 8th Marine Corps District was first known as the 8th Marine Corps Reserve District.
In 1945, the district's temporary headquarters was located aboard U.S. Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla.
It was later moved to the Customs House in New Orleans, La., which became the district's first permanent headquarters. The district's initial mission was to take up on its rolls the thousands of Marine Reservists being demobilized after World War II. After this was accomplished, the district began the rebuilding of the organized Marine Corps Reserve. In 1946, Col. Lewis B. "Chesty" Puller served as the first director of the 8th Marine Corps Reserve District.
By the end of 1947, Col. Puller commanded a district composed of 15 organized units with 2,300 officers and enlisted men, 47 percent of its authorized strength. The district encompassed Alabama, Arkansas, western Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. In 1948, Alabama, western Florida, Mississippi and Tennessee became part of the 6th Marine Corps Reserve District, headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. During that same year, Col. B. Dubel succeeded Col. Puller as director of the 8th District. The district now included 12 Marine reserve units located in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Drilling with an average 90 percent of authorized strength, these units had 3,800 Marine officers and enlisted men, plus 3,747 enlisted reservists on the volunteers reserve rolls. Also, in 1948, six organized units in Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, San Antonio, Texarkana and Tulsa reached 100 percent of their authorized strength.
In July 1948, Lt. Col. E.L. Hutchinson became the 8th District director. On Dec. 29, 1949, the average state of readiness for organized units in the district was 49.5 percent with Texarkana (91.2 percent) and San Antonio (89 percent) leading the way. At this time, there were 14 units. In early 1950, the state of New Mexico was added to the district.
The Jan. 19, 1950 district strength report showed 169 officers and 3,852 enlisted men in the organized reserve, plus 2,314 officers and 4,657 enlisted men in the volunteer reserve. When the Marine Corps mobilized in July 1950, the district's 14 organized units were called to active duty and sent to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for processing prior to service in the Korean War. During this process, Maj. C.G. Rollen succeeded Col. Hutchinson as district director.
Beginning Aug. 15, 1950, orders to report for active duty were issued by 8th District headquarters to nearly 5,000 volunteer reservists. More than 4,000 reservists proved fit for combat. By Feb. 28, 1951, there remained only 1,127 officers and enlisted men on the volunteer rolls of the district, who held billets not required for mobilization.
In June 1951, Col. W.S. McCormick assumed command as the district director. He immediately began planning for the rebuilding of all branches of the 8th District reserve community: individual volunteers, volunteer training units and organized reserve units. That same year, the district headquarters moved to the federal building in New Orleans, La.
In November 1951, new units were activated in Houston and Tulsa, Okla. In 1952, the 8th District totaled 19 organized reserve units. With the return of Marine reservists from active duty in Korea and elsewhere, the rolls of volunteer reserves grew rapidly. By Sept. 30, 1952, there were 1,798 officers and 4,289 enlisted men in this category. One hundred seventy-five reservists were members of 10 volunteer training units scattered within the five states of the district's territory.
In 1953, under the direction of Col. L.C. Goudeau, all Marine reserve and recruiting activities in the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas were consolidated into the 8th Marine Corps Reserve and Recruiting District with its headquarters in New Orleans. This move combined the Southern Recruiting Division, formally headquartered in Dallas, with the 8th District. Between April 1953 and June 1955, seven more units were added to the district rolls. The addition of these new units brought district strength to 222 officers and 3,881 enlisted men, an increase of 98 officers and 2,830 enlisted Marines. Also during this period, the 7th Rifle Company in San Antonio was redesignated the 14th Infantry Battalion.
In July 1955, after serving two years as deputy director, Col. W.R. Lytz assumed command as director. Under his leadership, the district continued its expansion. In November 1955, the 8th Staff Group was formed in New Orleans, bringing the districts total organized units to 28. The district now boasted 230 officers and 4,181 enlisted men on its rosters. The growth of the organized units stirred interest in the Reserves and additional requests for more units continued to flow into district headquarters. As a result, the district continued to expand the Volunteer Training Unit (VTU) concept. From July 1955 to January 1957, the total number of VTUs grew to 44. This included 40 general-type VTUs, two marksmanship and two legal VTUs. The VTUs' strength was 31 enlisted Marines and 513 officers. RoundUp, an internal publication for informing district personnel, was first published in November 1956.
Col. C. R. Schwenke became the director in 1957. The reserve program saw the reclassification of reservists to "ready" or "standby" status. At this time, all Class II reservists were placed in the "ready" category, and many Class III officers and enlisted transferred into the "ready" class. Following the reclassification, the district included 16,354 ready reservists with the standby strength at 5,009. Col. J.H. Jones who had been Col Schwenke's deputy, served as the interim director in June 1958 until Col. W.H. Jones assumed command in July 1958.
As of Dec. 31, 1958, the district had 32 VTUs with a total strength of 331 officers and 36 enlisted Marines. At the same time, there were 27 organized reserve units with a strength of 224 officers and 3,986 enlisted men. In August 1959, Col. Jones again served as the interim director until Col. J.R. Lirette assumed the helm in December 1959. In 1960, the 26 organized reserve units with a strength of 224 officers and 3,986 enlisted men.
The 4th Marine Division stood up July 1, 1962, and the Marine Corps Reserve was completely reorganized. This reorganization eliminated assignment mobilization by the district. All units within the district were affected by the move, but only by designation. Units in Fort Smith, Ark., and San Angelo, Texas, were deactivated, and a new unit was activated in Baton Rouge, La. In February 1964, under the command of Col. R.L. Stallings, the 8th Marine Corps Reserve and Recruitment District was re-designated the 8th Marine Corps District. The 8th Staff Group was relocated to Houston in September 1964.
In May 1966, under the direction of Col. A.M. Wilkinson, the first Junior Reserve Officer Training Unit was activated at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, where an unofficial high school unit had existed since World War II. Jesuit became the first unit to be established under the 1964 ROTC Revitalization Act, introduced to Congress by Rep. F. Edward Hebert (D-La.). Twenty other high schools followed Jesuit's MCJROTC enrollment within the district. Between November 1967 and July 1968, Col. H.G. McRay served as the district director. Col. C.B. Redman commanded the district between August 1968 and May 1969.
The 8th District, while commanded by Col. W.L. Beach, from 1969 to 1972, managed seven recruiting stations with 45 substations, 23 organized Marine Corps Reserve units with 185 officers and 4,203 enlisted Marines and 13 VTUs with 89 officers and three enlisted Marines. The 8th District headquarters was located on the second and third floors, 546 Carondelet Street in New Orleans. Fifteen officers, 35 enlisted Marines, one Navy corpsman and 10 civil service employees were assigned to the district headquarters to support, advise and control sub-units.
In 1971, the district became the first recruiting district in the Corps' history to place the Meritorious Unit Commendation streamer on its organizational colors. The citation noted "... (F)or meritorious service in the field of personnel procurement for the United States Marine Corps Reserve from 1 July 1969 to 30 April 1971."
During October 1972, under the direction of Col. H. Smith, the district moved from Carondelet Street to Building 10, Naval Support Activity, New Orleans, on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. In October 1974, Col. D.E. Shatzer succeeded Col. Smith as director. Col. H.J. Field served as the 8th District director between July 1975 and February 1978.
In February 1978, Col. D.R. Timmons became the new district director. At this time, the district began a northward move and expanded its boundaries to include three new recruiting stations: Denver, Kansas City and Omaha. The new stations were originally part of the 9th District's territory and extended the 8th District's boundaries to include Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, and parts of Iowa and Missouri. The district now maintained 11 recruiting stations with 380 canvassing recruiters on the streets to recruit nearly 20 percent of the nation's new Marine recruits annually.
In June 1978, the 8th District was relieved of all responsibility for managing Marine Corps Reserve units, while retaining cognizance over its MCJROTC units. Operations at Recruiting Station Lubbock, Texas, were shut down at this time, reducing the number of stations to nine.
Col. A.F. Bauer became director in August 1979. In September 1980, MCJROTC units were activated at Cibola High School, Albuquerque, N.M.; McAllen Memorial High School, McAllen, Texas; and Carver High School, New Orleans. Col. J.D. Lynch Jr., Col. Bauer's deputy, assumed command June 5, 1981. In September 1981, MCJROTC units at Alexandria Senior High School, Alexandria, La., and Willowridge High School, Stafford, Texas, were activated. Col. W.A. Tilley became deputy director in July 1981.
During September 1982, Midway High School, Waco, Texas, and Round Rock High School in Round Rock, Texas, established MCJROTC units.
Col. Tilley relieved Col. Lynch as the 8th District director June 7, 1983. In July 1983, Col. Tilley traveled to MCRD San Diego to receive the Navy Unit Commendation streamer for the organization colors. All Marine Corps districts were recipients of the award, presented by the Secretary of the Navy, noting exceptional performance in meeting nationwide recruiting goals from 1 April 1980 to 31 May 1983. Col. C.R. Casey who had served as the district's deputy director since July 1983 became the district director May 17, 1985.
Col. Casey's deputy director, Col. J.F. Juul, became the district director June 12, 1987. In August 1987, LtCol. W.D. Wischmeyer reported to the district as the deputy director. He was promoted to the rank of colonel in February 1988 and became the district director June 23, 1989. LtCol. S.C. Decoteau served as his deputy and was promoted to colonel in September 1989. The title of director was changed to commanding officer and the deputy director title was changed to executive officer. Col. Decoteau became the 8th District commanding officer, June 12, 1991. In July 1991, Co. O.R. Doyle reported aboard to serve as the executive officer.
The 8th Marine Corps District was realigned Oct. 1, 1992. Recruiting Stations Kansas City and Omaha were transferred to the 9th Marine Corps District. Also, RSS Rock Springs, Wyo. (RS Denver) was transferred to RS Salt Lake City in the 12th Marine Corps District. Additionally, two Officer Selection Offices transferred to the 9th Marine Corps District - OSO Kansas City, Mo., and OSO Omaha, Neb. Col. Doyle assumed command of the district, June 2, 1992. In August 1994, Col. J.M. Murray Jr. became the 8th District executive officer.
In September 1994, the 8th District received the Meritorious Unit Citation, as part of the Marine Corps Recruiting Command, for meritorious service in the field of Total Force recruiting and officer procurement from 1 October 1991 to 30 September 1993. The citation commends the Marines, sailors and civilians of the MCRC for distinguishing themselves "(B)y exceeding requirements for all categories of enlisted recruitment and officer procurement tasked by the Commandant of the Marine Corps." On June 7, 1995, the Secretary of the Navy established the Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon for all Marines who serve a successful tour in the 8411 (recruiter) or 8412 (recruiting NCOIC) billets. Marines who serve as a recruiting station commanding officer, executive officer, operations officer, officer selection officer or sergeant major are also eligible.
The Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon was awarded retroactive to Jan. 1, 1973, reflecting the establishment of the All Volunteer Force. Col. Murray became the 8th District commanding officer June 9, 1995. Col. R.E. Motl, reported aboard as the executive officer July 27, 1995.
Col. Motl assumed command of the district June 16, 1997. Col. P.S. Parkhurst assumed command June 4, 1999. RS New Orleans realigned to the 6th District and RS Phoenix realigned to the 8th District on Oct. 1, 2001.
RS Little Rock stood down and RS Fort Worth was established Oct. 2001. Col. R.F. Kuhlow assumed command of the district July 2002.
In May 2005, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forwarded a recommendation to the Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) that the Naval Support Activity Bywater/Westbank be closed.
In September 2005, the commission forwarded its report to the president with the recommendation NSA Bywater be closed, and that NSA Westbank be kept open but reorganized under a “Federal City” plan proposed by local New Orleans government officials.
On August 27, 2005, Col. Carl Huenefeld, the commanding officer of 8th Marine Corps District at that time, evacuated his personnel from the headquarters at NSA Bywater/Westbank just before Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans, hastening plans to relocate the headquarters element to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
January 27, 2006 witnessed the official re-establishment of the 8th MCD headquarters element near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This marked the first time all headquarter personnel had worked at the same location since the evacuation.
Col. Mark Toal assumed command of 8th MCD June 1, 2007 and oversaw the relocation of the district headquarters to a new building aboard NAS Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in late July of 2009.
Col. Samuel T. Studdard assumed command of 8th MCD July 1, 2010.