|10-09-2008, 06:14 PM||#1|
Snake Eyes' Daddy
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Athens/UGA campus, GA
DOWN TO ONE MARINE
On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs.
He was a combat veteran of World War II. Reason enough to honor him. But this Marine was a little different. This Marine was Mitchell Paige.
It's hard today to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 26, 1942.
The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.
On Guadalcanal the Marines struggled to complete an airfield. Yamamoto knew what that meant. No effort would be spared to dislodge these upstart Yanks from a position that could endanger his ships. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven supporting U.S Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.
As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Browning's, manning their section of the thin khaki line which was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942, it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: “How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 desperate and motivated attackers?”
Nor did the commanders of the mighty Japanese Army, who had swept all before them for decades, expect their advance to be halted on some God-forsaken jungle ridge manned by one thin line of Yanks in khaki in October of 1942.
But by the time the night was over, “The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men, “historian Lippman reports. “The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low.”
You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Browning's in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.
The citation for Paige's Congressional Medal of Honor picks up the tale: “When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machinegun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire.”
In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Browning's -- the same design which John Moses Browning famously fired for a continuous 25 minutes until it ran out of ammunition, glowing cherry red, at its first U.S. Army trial -- and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.
And the weapon did not fail.
Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was first to discover the answer to our question: “How many able-bodied Marines does it take to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat?”
On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.
One hill: one Marine.
“But in the early morning light, the enemy could be seen a few yards off, and vapor from the barrels of their machine guns was clearly visible,” reports historian Lippman. “It was decided to try to rush the position.”
For the task, Major Conoley gathered together three enlisted communication personnel, several riflemen, a few company runners who were at the point, together with a cook and a few messmen who had brought food to the position the evening before.
Joined by Paige, this ad hoc force of 17 Marines counterattacked at 5:40 a.m., discovering that “the extremely short range allowed the optimum use of grenades.” They cleared the ridge.
And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one had ever heard of, called Guadalcanal .
But who remembers, today, how close-run a thing it was -- the ridge held by a single Marine, in the autumn of 1942?
When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel's face on some kid's doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.
But they weren't. That's his mug, on the little Marine they call “G.I. Joe.”
And now you know.
Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to
PLATOON SERGEANT MITCHELL PAIGE
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
for service as set forth in the following CITATION:
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the Second Battalion, Seventh Marines, First Marine Division, in combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands Area on October 26, 1942. When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, Platoon Sergeant Paige, commanding a machine-gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he manned his gun, and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire against the advancing hordes until reinforcements finally arrived. Then, forming a new line, he dauntlessly and aggressively led a bayonet charge, driving the enemy back and preventing a break through in our lines. His great personal valor and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
"Fierce Krypton is as smooth as a Cold, Crisp Colt 45 Malt!
He works every time!!!"
|10-09-2008, 07:15 PM||#2|
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Over The Rainbow!
Anything but to face ourselves as we are...
|10-09-2008, 07:23 PM||#3|
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: over here
Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing!
|10-10-2008, 02:30 AM||#4|
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Yonkers, NY
THey don't make men like that any more. A true REAL AMERICAN HERO!!!!
|10-10-2008, 02:57 AM||#5|
Three Stars And A Sun
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Planet Earth
Who would've known...
Great read! I absolutely loved it!
|10-10-2008, 03:02 AM||#6|
Join Date: Jun 2008
OOORRRAAHH!!! MARINE CORPS! It is part of the Marine Corps history the actions of Sgt Paige and others like him who have gone to great lengths to accomplish thier mission. It gives meaning to the motto of "Adapt and Overcome", doing more with less or with what you have. Being part of one of the greatest services is truly an honor, especially in the Marine Corps.
My Feedback: http://www.hisstank.com/forum/buy-se...-1-trader.html
"Adapt and Over Come!"
Last edited by DevilDog00; 10-10-2008 at 03:11 AM..
|10-10-2008, 03:07 AM||#7|
supreme allied commander
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Knoxville, TN
God bless him, his family, our nation, and all our fighting men and women in the armed forces...semper fi
|10-10-2008, 03:10 AM||#8|
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: San Diego, CA
|10-10-2008, 03:16 AM||#9|
Join Date: Aug 2008
You took the words right out of my mouth. This is what i was going to put as well.
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