Skip to comments.In 1942, it came down to one Marine
Posted on 10/25/2009 4:49:12 AM PDT by rellimpank
It's hard to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 26, 1942, when a few thousand U.S. Marines stood essentially stranded on the God-forsaken jungle island of Guadalcanal, placed like a speed bump at the end of the long blue-water slot between New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, the most likely route for the Japanese Navy to take if they hoped to reach Australia.
On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield. Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto knew what that meant. No effort would be spared to dislodge these upstart Yanks. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven supporting U.S. Navy vessels from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.
As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully placing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings, manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault everyone expected on the night of Oct. 25, 1942, it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to what had previously been a mainly theoretical question: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against a desperate attacking force of 2,000?
Nor did the commanders of the mighty Japanese Army, who had swept all before them for decades -- OK, they decided not to push Marshall Zhukov any further in Manchuria -- expect their advance to be halted on some God-forsaken jungle ridge manned by one thin line of Yanks in khaki in October 1942
(Excerpt) Read more at lvrj.com ...
On December 8th 1941....2 Bronx kids Jimmy and Vinny went down to the Marine Corp recrutiment booth and went in on the Buddy system....
Sometime in 1942 my father Jim and his cousin Vinny landed on ‘the canal’....
after that they went to Bougainville...where Dad caught a case of elephantitis from an ‘Axis Mosquito’...and was shipped home to recuperate....
Both were kept in reserve after that but scheduled to fight on the main Japanese Islands in 1945 when Truman Nuked the Japanese...and thank God he did.....
both men made it through the war....neither would ever talk about the combat part of their tour (except to say how horrible war could be).
OUTSTANDING article. Thanks for posting. Paige almost makes Audie Murphy seem like a piker!
Thank you..Great heroic story.
As terrible as it was, men (and one man) were in a position to think and act on their own, pure survival the motivating power.
I am not 'militarized' today, so I may be suckin' canal water ... but it seems we are now so well trained and (dare I say .. controlled ? ), that the heroism of this caliber can never happen again.
Damn, I'm proud to be an American.
It does happen. There have been numerous reports from Iraq and Afghanistan proving the core of the American soul is as strong as ever.
Unfortunately, our media and much of society do not hold these people up as the brave, selfless, heroes they are.
Unlike World War II, there are no great, major movies about our troops being made....most are either science fiction or anti-war.
Great tale - thank you.
My friends and I grew up on stories of men and battles like this. Men like Sgt. Paige and his platoon were our absolute heroes. They forever stand tall among the finest Americans this great nation has produced.
The world today little appreciates the gift they have received from the men who fought and won WWII. Sadly, that lack of appreciation applies to much of modern America.
Young men of the post WWII era didn’t fear the draft - we counted the days until we could enlist. The very morning I turned seventeen I was waiting at the door when the Marine Corps recruiter arrived. My best friend and I enlisted on the Buddy System.
Rather, “Unlike WWII, there are ONLY anti-American and anti-war movies being made these days.”
Band of Brothers? Yes, but that was WWII.
Saving Pvt Ryan? Racist, hate-filled coward was the only one left standing after the others were killed, and HE had just murdered a German prisoner.
I wonder how our current commander in chief would have performed in the same circumstances.
Great stuff! Thanks for posting this.
Nevertheless both men accomplished great things with machine guns. Come to think of it, the opposite happened in the case of WW1 hero from Tennessee, Alvin York, who used pistol, rifle, and marksmanship to cause the surrender of a large number of German soldiers.
Well, I certainly didn’t mean to dismiss Murphy’s bravery, nor the bravery of any member of the service. I am just shocked that I have never heard of Paige before. Of course, that seems to be the pattern for our MOH recipients — humble men who don’t run around touting their own achievements with so-called Nobels like Al Gore and Obama!
Wry, isn’t it? I wonder of AG and O ever blush when they are alone with their thoughts?
In a situation of kill or be killed animal pure survival instincts take hold.
Today we face our own enemy. But this enemy does not wear a uniform. This enemy is domestic and is working to tear down this constitutional republic from within.
I am not sure which enemy I would rather face or which is more dangerous.
Every time I spot an older man in WalMart with some indication they're a vet (usually a ball cap), I make the effort to introduce myself, shake their hand and thank them for their service.
MY days were '65 - '67 and they were not combat.
I try to engage these men in conversation (So far, the hundreds I've met are pureity 100% American), and glean what I can about the war days of WW2 but more often Korea and mostly Viet Nam ... we're losing out history teachers.
Mitchell Paige....a great American of Serbian descent bump!!!!!
All young males, like and look up to male males. We are hardwired as young males to bond with older males to learn to hunt, fight, survive. Every single male today, represents an unbroken genetic experiment back to eons unknown. Failed hunters, killers do not exist today.
This is why young boys pick up sticks and rocks to throw, hit, smash. Hardwired.
This is why faggy, lefty, liberal eunic metrosexual males are so derided by hardwired, successful young boys. The tribe, the males do not want, and it is a threat to the tribe, not to hunt, kill.
This is why cities, removed from physical reality, the old reality, the ever true reality, have so many faggy metrosexuals. Because they don’t grow the food they eat, they don’t mine the minerals they use, nor forge the mental they use, nor go to sea to eat the low fat fish they love so much. They are in the big, modern cave. With women. Telling stories. News stories. Art stories. Advertising stories. Politic stories. Just like back in the old cave man days. There were cavemen that went out on the hunt for days, and brought back the meat. And there were cavemen that stayed back with the women, and told stories. These cavemen became priests, shamans, and later politicians. Hanging around women, confused them as to their nature, many thought of feminine things. These became homosexuals.
Modernity is too new, and not assured. The jury isn’t even at the courthouse for a million years of behaviour to change.
Obama, Rom Eman-fag-uel, Biden, “Linsey” Graham and all the other metro’s have no freeking clue about what runs the world. Growing up in uber elite lefty leaf towns, going to limp wrist, tea sipping, smoke blowing( and other things and drugs) colleges, then feathermerchant law schools and finally politics are all exercises in delusion. Brain damage.
Rank and organization: Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Place and date: Solomon Islands, 26 October 1942. Entered service at: Pennsylvania. Born: 31 August 1918, Charleroi, Pa.
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a company of marines in combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 26 October 1942. 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 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 breakthrough in our lines. His great personal valor and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
It's easier, I imagine, to cause blood to flow through a uniform than a suit and tie.
Now ... if we can condition ourselves to see Brook's Brothers suits and polished wing tips as an enemy uniform ......
Where are you today, John Moses Browning, when we need you, we send our troops out with over engineered, over priced toys, that can be guaranteed to fail at the worst possible moment. Heavy though they were, the M1917 Heavy(WC),the M1919 Light(AC). The .50 BMG and the M1917 B.A.R, did not have failure in their vocabulary.
Excellent observation and commentary ... thank you.
My brother owns a 1919 and I can tell you that they do fail.
I do know they are more reliable than an M60 out at the range.....but combat is not the range and there were not many reliability studies done during WWII.
Those interested in the topic might want to check out Multi-Man Publishing’s upcoming Combat Sim on Guadalcanal.
Kawaguchi’s Gamble: Edson’s Ridge.
They also have in their ‘Tactical Combat Series” Bloody Ridge which is a different scale of the same battle. Look it up.
No, I do not work for MMP. I just buy their products.
My late father-in-law, Peter Martuselli, was a Marine on Guadalcanal. Pete could tell you the names of all the men that died during the unbelievable fighting, many of them his friends. It is hard to believe that a young man could live through the stress of war and still have the sweet spirit that Pete was known for all of his life.
John Moses Browning still lives and he still fights.
M2 Browning machine gun
yeah Corps.....its early.
just had my first coffee....
if Dad were alive, he would wack me in the back of the head for that one....
...he went to meet his cousin about 3 years ago now.
Well said,Thank you
It’s easier, I imagine, to cause blood to flow through a uniform than a suit and tie.
Now ... if we can condition ourselves to see Brook’s Brothers suits and polished wing tips as an enemy uniform ......
It is easier to fight an enemy that is easy to identify and it is clear they are out to kill you. You face a possibility of death no matter what.
If everyone wearing expensive suits were the enemy then we could find a way to defeat them.
We need to find the tactics and strategy for this new enemy: the enemy within.
Go back and watch it again, Robert. Upham wasn’t the only survivor. Ryan himself and Ryben survived.
And the German prisoner needed killing.
I know many serving in the military today and I do believe heroism is/will happening/happen again when the need is there. For the most part those that join the military are of a different mindset to begin with, especially those that have enlisted since 9/11. They are highly trained, but definately not robots that won't think for themselves if the need is there.
God bless them. My father-in-law was a paratroop during WWII in the 82nd airborne. He had 2 drops on his wings and stayed in Italy for the remainder of the European campaign. He never talked much about his dealings until one Christmas when we both got pretty much hammered.
He then opened up as we went through his foot locker of memorabilia and photos. War wasn’t a pleasure cruise.
Great post! I love Vin’s articles.
The world first noticed it at Bello Wood. Then there was Pearl harbor, Wake island, Bataan, Guadalcanal........
Our enemies scoff at us and consider us weak. All to their utter desolation. Unfortunately we need such heroes because our so called political leaders screw up. No screw-ups then no need for heroes. Think about it.
The sonuvabitch once played basketball in a Marine Corps tee-shirt. He deserves the Navy Cross at the least!
Dad was at Guadalcanal with the 1st Mar D.
He graduated HS in 1938. Joined the Corps in 39. Hitchhiked to Savannah to join up.
He never talked much about it when I was growing up. It was only when I became his caregiver in the last 5 years of his life that he opened up a little.
I then found out from other relatives that he was considered a war hero in the family.
One thing I found out was that when the Jap Navy shelled Henderson field that a 14 inch shell landed next to his fox hole and it was a dud.
Thank God! Otherwise, I would not be here.
In 43 he was returned stateside to train new recruits and married my Mom who he met on a train years earlier when he was traveling to the west coast to ship out.
I think he was slated for the invasion of Japan when the A bomb ended the war.
Simper Fi! DaddyO
A great man,a great athlete, Top Sgt Marine and a great father.
Bloody Ridge.The term doesnt mean much these days but when we were kids it sure as hell did.
And the M2 still lives! Long may it wave. even after 76 years. Nothing better.http://www.freerepublic.com/perl/post?id=2370432,28#help
Thank God for the US Marines and John Moses Browning. Semper fi.
I guess I take the Derbyshire view, we'll be lucky if it's even anything like that close again.
Thanks for this post.
I emailed the link to my “list”.
Freedom ain’t free.
My Uncle was a First Marine Raider during WW2 and never said a word.
Yup. So were Marines like Al Schmidt and John Basilone. Heros all of ‘em. The Marines: No better friend, no worse enemy’’.
Damn right the M2 .05 Caliber Browning Heavy Machine Gun, “Ma Deuce’’ demands respect. And gets it. .