Marine's night on Guadalcanal

Discussion in 'Freedom and Liberty' started by -06, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    A HERO like no other!

    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com[​IMG]It Came Downto One Marine

    by Vin Suprynowicz

    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


    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.

    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 counter attacks 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 Brownings, 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?

    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 inMitchell 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 Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill

    that the positions were still manned.

    The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: When the enemy

    broke through the line directly in front of his position, Platoon 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

    Brownings --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


    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........

    Cephus, BTPost, jungatheart and 4 others like this.
  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    He certainly didn't take any prisoners....

    Mitchell Paige was an interesting fellow. He certainly didn't take any prisoners...he spent decades exposing frauds and imposters, who claimed military service, decorations and awards that they never earned. His bag of imposters almost rivals his bag of Japanese at Guadalcanal.

    False Medal of Honor Recipients
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