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Photo Information

Lt. Col. Mike Wilonsky speaks to the Marines of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines on the flight deck of the USS Bonhomme Richard Feb. 22, 2015. Wilonsky used the opportunity to provide his guidance for the upcoming liberty port in Malaysia. The Marines are with BLT 2/4, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and recently concluded the annually scheduled Spring Patrol of the Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan C. Mains/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Ryan Mains

A Magnificent Tour

14 May 2015 | Cpl. Ryan Mains 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

For most, the name “bastard” is a derogatory term, but one battalion of Marines bears the name with pride.

“Being a ‘Magnificent Bastard’ means everything to me,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Bolyard, battalion Sergeant Major for 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines. “Everyone throughout the Marine Corps looks at our name and wishes they donned it… because of its legacy and the warrior mentality of the Marines.”

Bolyard, a 55-year-old from Frederick, Maryland, started out his Marine Corps career with the unit over 25 years ago. He has held nearly every infantry rank, title and billet within the battalion while visiting 21 different countries on eight deployments. Of those deployments, two were combat tours and six were patrols with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.

“When I go out in front of almost 1,100 Marines and I say, ’What’s going on Bastards?’,  there is this roar,” said Bolyard. “I have been in several other units and you hear a similar roar, but it doesn’t have anywhere near the same sense of ownership.”

Throughout its history, the unit has deployed to numerous places including the Dominican Republic, China, Corregidor, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. The nickname “Magnificent Bastards” was established by Battalion Order 5600.1B on Sept. 24, 1966 during a combat tour in Vietnam. 

During their recent six-month attachment to the 31st MEU as the ground combat element, the “Bastards” trekked through the thick jungles of Okinawa, participated in a theater security cooperation event in Malaysia, and worked alongside Republic of Korea Marines. While at sea, the Marines served aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), USS Green Bay (LPD 20) and USS Ashland (LSD 48) for two and a half months. 

“This was my first time with the 31st MEU,” said Cpl. Mitchell Knight, a fire team leader with BLT 2/4, 31st MEU. “Now that it is almost over I feel more experienced and more thorough at my job.”

Ask any number of Marines who have been a part of this unit and they will mention their nickname with a sense of pride.

“The leadership is outstanding and as far as this group of Marines, you just couldn’t be with a better group to serve with,” said Knight from Russia, Ohio. “I think that each and every Marine that I have served with holds themselves to that image of what they want to get out of being a ‘Bastard’.”

Carrying this sense of pride throughout his entire career, Bolyard has this to say about his Marines.

"Everything I do, I do it for my Marines and there is no greater honor in the Marine Corps than being the infantry battalion sergeant major of the Magnificent Bastards,” said Bolyard. “I tell my Marines every Friday (during our weekly formations) that I am proud to be their sergeant major because they are the future and I am the past.”

With the deployment to Okinawa and their attachment to the 31st MEU almost over, 2/4 is scheduled to fly to their home base in California and will

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31st Marine Expeditionary Unit