Mitchell Paige

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Mitchell Paige
Paige M.jpg
2nd Lt. Mitchell Paige
Nickname(s)Mitch
Born(1918-08-31)August 31, 1918
Charleroi, Pennsylvania
DiedNovember 15, 2003(2003-11-15) (aged 85)
La Quinta, California
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service1936–1959
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit2nd Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/warsWorld War II Korean War
AwardsMedal of Honor
Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon

Mitchell Paige (August 31, 1918 – November 15, 2003) was an American and retired United States Marine Corps colonel who received the nation's highest military decoration for valor in combat, the Medal of Honor, during World War II.

On October 26, 1942, after thirty-three Marines in his machine gun platoon were killed or wounded defending a ridge during the Battle of Guadalcanal, Platoon Sergeant Paige operated four machine guns, singlehandedly stopping an entire Japanese regiment. He also led a bayonet charge afterwards.

Early life[edit]

Paige was born in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. His parents were ethnic Serbs, immigrants from the Glina region, originally surnamed Pejić.[1][2] His mother kept him and his brother in touch with their roots, reminding them of the Battle of Kosovo, but also told them to be proud Americans.[3] His family later moved to the Camden Hills neighborhood of West Mifflin. He graduated from McKeesport High School before enlisting in the US Marine Corps.

Military service[edit]

Paige enlisted in the Marine Corps on September 1, 1936, at Baltimore, Maryland, and completed his boot camp training at Parris Island, South Carolina. In November 1936, he was transferred to Quantico, Virginia, and later served as a gunner aboard the USS Wyoming. While aboard the Wyoming, he took part in maneuvers via Panama to San Clemente Island off the coast of California. In February 1937, he was transferred to Mare Island Navy Yard for guard duty, and two months later was ordered to Cavite in the Philippine Islands. While on Cavite, he became a member of the All-Navy-Marine baseball team, which gained prominence throughout the islands and the Orient. He served in China from October 1938 to September 1939 and during his tour he guarded American property during the famous Tientsin flood. He left North China and returned to the U.S. in April 1940 for guard duty at the Brooklyn and Philadelphia Navy Yards. In September, he rejoined the 5th Marines, at Quantico, and the following month participated in maneuvers at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Culebra, Puerto Rico.

In March 1941, Paige was transferred back to the United States and ordered to New River, North Carolina, to help construct and prepare a new Marine Corps training base, which later became Camp Lejeune. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, he was sent again overseas with the 7th Marines and landed at Apia, British Samoa. From Samoa, the 7th Marines landed on Guadalcanal in September 1942. On October 26, he earned the nation's highest decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, during the campaign for Guadalcanal, specifically the Battle for Henderson Field, when he made a desperate stand against Japanese troops after they had broken through the lines and killed or wounded all of the other Marines in his machine gun section. Platoon Sergeant Paige fired his machine gun until it was destroyed, then moved from gun to gun, keeping up a withering fire until he finally received reinforcements. He later led a bayonet charge that drove the Japanese back and prevented a breakthrough in American lines. While on Guadalcanal, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the field on December 19, 1942.

Paige remained on Guadalcanal until January 1943, when he went to Melbourne, Australia, with the 1st Marine Division. The Marine Corps’ World War II Commandant, General Alexander A. Vandegrift, presented the Medal of Honor to Second Lieutenant Paige in Melbourne. In June, he was promoted to first lieutenant. In September, First Lieutenant Paige left with the 1st Marine Division for New Guinea where the Marines joined with the 6th Army for the attack on Cape Gloucester, New Britain, on December 26. In May 1944, the division left Cape Gloucester for a rest area in the Russell Islands, Pavuvu. In July, First Lieutenant Paige was sent back to the United States and assigned duty at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was promoted to captain on February 28, 1945. In June, Captain Paige became Tactical Training Officer at Camp Matthews, California, and the following September, was sent to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot as a recruit training officer. In May 1946, he was placed on inactive duty.

In July 1950, Paige returned to active duty again at the beginning of the Korean War, and was assigned duty at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California. He was later transferred to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at San Diego, California, as Plans and Operations Officer of the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion. At this time, he also went on a special assignment as plans and training officer in charge of setting up a Platoon Leader's Course training program for the Special Training Company. He was promoted to the rank of major on January 1, 1951. In October, Major Paige became executive officer of the 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, until October 1952, when he was transferred to the 4th Special Junior Course at Marine Corps Schools, Quantico. He attended school there until May 1953, then served as division recruiting officer, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, until February 1954.

Major Paige was next assigned to Sub-Unit #2, Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, San Francisco, California, serving as officer in charge, Division Non-Commissioned Officers School until April 1955. During this period he also served briefly as assistant officer in charge of Sub-Unit #1. From there, he served as battalion executive officer and later commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, from April to August 1955, when he reported to the 12th Marine Corps Reserve and Recruitment District to serve as officer in charge of Marine Corps Recruiting Station in San Francisco.

Paige was promoted to lieutenant colonel in May 1957. In August that year, Lieutenant Colonel Paige was assigned duty as inspector-instructor, 7th Infantry Battalion, USMCR, at San Bruno, California, until August 1958, when he was detached to Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C. In May 1959, he entered the U.S. Army Language School in Monterey, California, and remained there for nine months until he was ordered to the Marine Barracks, U.S. Naval Station, San Diego, California, to serve as executive officer until October that year.

On November 1, 1959, Paige was placed on the Marine Corps Disability Retired List and promoted to colonel for being specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat.[4]

Later life and death[edit]

In 1975, a book Paige wrote was published about his experiences titled A Marine Named Mitch.[5] In his later years, he worked to identify imposters wearing or selling the Medal of Honor.[6]

On November 15, 2003, Paige died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, California at the age of 85. He was the last surviving Medal of Honor recipient of the Guadalcanal campaign. He was buried with full military honors at the Riverside National Cemetery in Riverside, California.

Military awards[edit]

Paige's military decorations and awards include the following:

A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Medal of Honor
Purple Heart Combat Action Ribbon Presidential Unit Citation[a]
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal China Service Medal American Defense Service Medal with 1 bronze star
American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 bronze stars World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal with 1 bronze star Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon
Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation[b] United Nations Korea Medal Republic of Korea War Service Medal

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

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.[7]

/S/ FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

Other awards and honors[edit]

Paige received numerous awards both as a member of the military and as a civilian. In addition to being a Medal of Honor recipient, he was also an Eagle Scout and had a G.I. Joe action figure representing him:[8][9]

In 1998, Paige served as the model for a G.I. Joe action figure. His was the Marine Corps figure in a series honoring Medal of Honor recipients from each branch of the U.S. military.[10]

In 1999, A Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to Paige, recognizing him as one of five Medal of Honor recipients from the Southern California desert area.[11]

A museum at the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base is dedicated to him.[12]

On March 23, 2003, Paige was presented with the Eagle Scout award by the Boy Scouts of America,[13] which he had earned in 1936,[14] his last year in high school, but had never received because he had left home to join the Marine Corps. (He is one of nine known Eagle Scouts who have received the Medal of Honor.[15]) Paige is also a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.[14]

On May 2, 2006, the Desert Sands Unified School District honored Paige by naming its newest school the Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle School, in La Quinta, California.[16]

The Eldred World War II Museum in Eldred, Pennsylvania, holds an exhibit dedicated to him, named "Mitchell Paige Hall". Paige donated his Medal of Honor and his collection of military memorabilia to the Eldred facility.[17]

References[edit]

Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
Specific
  1. ^ Bernstein, Adam (November 18, 2003). "Col. Mitchell Paige, Medal of Honor Recipient, Dies". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  2. ^ Ciric, Dragan (May 11, 2008). "Najveći Marinac – Srbin Pejić" [The Biggest Marine – Serbian Pejić]. pressonline.rs (in Serbian). Independent daily Vesti [sr]. Retrieved June 7, 2020.
  3. ^ Savić, Dubravka (February 18, 2006). "Heroj američki, poreklo srpsko" [American hero, of Serbian origin] (in Serbian). Večernje Novosti. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  4. ^ "Colonel Mitchell Paige, USMC". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on May 8, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  5. ^ Paige, Mitchell (1975). A Marine Named Mitch. Vantage. ISBN 0-533-01950-8.
  6. ^ "Tracking Down False Heroes Medal of Honor recipients go after impostors". San Francisco Chronicle. May 31, 1999.
  7. ^ "Medal of Honor PltSgt Mitchell Paige (Medal of Honor citation)". Marines Awarded the Medal of Honor. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Archived from the original on March 5, 2007.
  8. ^ Douglas Sterner (November 15, 2003). "Home Of Heroes Mitch Paige Website". Archived from the original on February 6, 2004. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  9. ^ "GI Joe Classic Collection Medal of Honor Recipient Mitchell Paige". amazon.com. Retrieved June 12, 2020.
  10. ^ "Local retired Marine to be re-created by Hasbro, Inc". The Public Record. December 25, 1998. Retrieved December 12, 2006.
  11. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated
  12. ^ "News from our SNCO Academies". Leatherneck Magazine. November 16, 2002. Retrieved October 28, 2007.
  13. ^ Townley, Alvin (December 26, 2006). Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts. New York: St. Martin's Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 0-312-36653-1. Retrieved December 29, 2006.
  14. ^ a b "Mitchell Paige". Notable Eagles. National Eagle Scout Association. 2003. Archived from the original on June 10, 2017.
  15. ^ The others are Aquilla J. Dyess, Robert Edward Femoyer, Eugene B. Fluckey, Thomas R. Norris, Arlo L. Olson, Ben L. Salomon, Leo K. Thorsness and Jay Zeamer, Jr.
  16. ^ "Col. Mitchell Paige Middle School – School Name". Desert Sands Unified School District. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2006.
  17. ^ Cole, Jeff (August 4, 2010). "Museum Provides A Glimpse Into The Past". Olean Times Herald. Olean, New York. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010.
General

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Awarded to 1st Marine Division: Aug. 7-Dec. 9, 1942
  2. ^ Awarded to 1st Marine Division: Oct. 26, 1950-July 27, 1953

External links[edit]