By: Friedrich Seiltgen
Copyright © 2022
Born in 1918, Mitchell Paige had great respect for the military. He enjoyed watching the soldiers march in his hometown Armistice Day parades, and when Paige was 18, he hitchhiked 200 miles to the Marine Corps recruiter in Baltimore, Maryland. After completing basic training at Parris Island, Paige’s assignments included the 1st Marine Division, a gunner aboard the USS Wyoming, Mare Island for guard duty, and then Cavite, in the Philippines. He went back to the 1st Marine division in 1940 and took part in maneuvers in Puerto Rico and Cuba before returning CONUS to help construct Camp Lejeune.
After Pearl Harbor, Paige was sent to British Samoa with the 7th marine regiment; by September 1942, he landed at Guadalcanal. On October 26th, 1942, Paige and his platoon were ready to fight in the Battle for Henderson Field. Paige could hear Japanese soldiers speaking about 100 yards from his position and told his men to be ready for impending attack.
Japanese howitzers began firing onto Paige’s position and his platoon was quickly overrun by 2,700 Japanese soldiers. Paige was determined to hold his position and manned all four of the platoon’s heavy machineguns. When the guns went silent, he called for a bayonet charge. Luckily the Japanese soldiers did not realize the platoon was small, without manpower to pull off a charge, and the Japanese retreated.
“I was so wound up at this point, I couldn’t stop,” he recalled. “I yelled back to the riflemen, ‘Fix bayonets; follow me.’ I threw two belts of ammo over my shoulders, unclamped the machine gun, picked it up and cradled it in my arms after loading it.”
Paige remained on Guadalcanal until his transfer to Australia with the first Marine Division in January 1943. While there, the now 2nd Lt. was presented with the Medal of Honor by Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift, who told him that he was “the first enlisted Marine in [my] division to be awarded this medal.” Before war’s end, Paige was sent to Camp Lejeune, promoted to Captain, and became a recruit training officer.
At the end of WWII, Paige was placed on inactive duty only to be reactivated for the Korean War. Paige never deployed to Korea, spending his time between U.S. installations.
Paige spent his remaining service time at the Marine Barracks in San Diego until his promotion to Colonel and retirement in 1959.
Paige also worked with the FBI hunting down stolen valor types with their counterfeit medals. He even got the penalty increased for falsely claiming that awards were earned.
Paige passed away at the age of 85, protecting the Medal of Honor until his death
That’s all for now folks! Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article Ideas. And as always – “Let’s Be Careful Out There.”
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism Counter strategies, Firearms, and Active Shooter Response. His writing has appeared in RECOIL, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at [email protected].