Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mitchell Paige, Platoon Sergeant
United States Marine Corps

Mitchell Paige (August 31, 1918 - November 15, 2003) was a recipient of the Medal of Honor from World War II. He received this, the highest military honor awarded by the United States of America, for his actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands on October 26, 1942, where, after all of the other Marines in his platoon were killed or wounded, he operated four machine guns, singlehandedly stopping an entire Japanese regiment.

Early life
Paige was born in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. His parents were Serb immigrants who arrived in the United States from the Military Frontier of Croatia, their last name being Pejic. 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.

Military service
In the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, on October 26, 1942, while a platoon Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, he held his line against advancing Japanese forces even after all of his comrades had been killed or wounded. After reinforcements arrived, Paige led a counterattack against the Japanese, which successfully repelled the enemy forces and held the American line. While on Guadalcanal he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the field on December 19, 1942. General Alexander Vandegrift presented Paige with the Medal of Honor in a special ceremony in Balcombe, Australia, on May 21, 1943 for his actions. Paige later served in the Korean War.

Later life and death
Paige retired in 1959 with the rank of Colonel. In retirement, Paige wrote a book about his experiences titled A Marine Named Mitch (published in 1975). In his later years, he served to ferret out imposters wearing or selling the Medal of Honor.

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.

Honors and awards
Through his life Paige received numerous awards both as a member of the military and as a civilian. In addition to receiving the Medal of Honor, he was also an Eagle Scout and had a G.I. Joe action figure designed in his likeness.

Military awards
Among his numerous military decorations were: the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Good Conduct Medal, the China Service Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Base clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, the American Campaign Medal, the Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, the Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon, and the United Nations Service Medal.

Medal of Honor citation
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to

for service as set forth in the following

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.