From Makin to Bougainville Marine Raiders in the Pacific

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From Makin to Bougainville,Marine Raiders in the Pacific War. by Major Jon I Hoffman USMCR, n February 1942 Lieu ducted numerous forays against the. tenant General Thomas Two completely independent European coastline and Prime. Holcomb the Com forces were responsible for the ap Minister Winston S Churchill en. mandant of the Marine pearance of the raiders in early 1942 thusiastically endorsed the concept to. Corps ordered the cre Several historians have fully traced President Roosevelt The Marine. ation of a new unit designated the 1st Commandant Major General Tho. one of these sets of circumstances, Marine Raider Battalion This elite which began with the friendship mas Holcomb allegedly succumbed. force and its three sister battalions developed between Franklin D to this high level pressure and or. went on to gain considerable fame for Roosevelt and Evans F Carlson As ganized the raider battalions though. fighting prowess in World War II a result of his experiences in China he himself thought that any proper. There is more to the story of these Carlson was convinced that guerrilla ly trained Marine unit could perform. units however than a simple tale of warfare was the wave of the future amphibious raids. combat heroics The inception One of his adherents in 1941 was That scenario is mostly accurate. growth and sudden end of the raid Captain James Roosevelt the presi but it tells only half of the story. ers reveals a great deal about the de dent s son At the same time another Two other men also were responsi. veloprnent and conduct of amphib presidential confidant William J ble for the genesis of the raiders One. ious operations during the war and Donovan was pushing a similar was General Holland M Smith. about the challenges the Corps faced theme Donovan had been an Army Although the Marine Corps Schools. in expanding from 19 000 men to hero in World War I and was now had created the first manual on am. nearly a half million The raiders also a senior advisor on intelligence mat phibious operations in 1935 during. attracted more than their share of ters He wanted to create a guerrilla the early days of World War II Smith. strong leaders The resulting combi force that would infiltrate occupied faced the unenviable task of trying. nation of courage doctrine organi territory and assist resistance groups to convert that paper doctrine into. zation and personalities makes this He made a formal proposal along reality As a brigadier general he. one of the most interesting chapters these lines to President Roosevelt in commanded the 1st Marine Brigade. in Marine Corps history December 1941 In January the in Fleet Landing Exercise 6 which. younger Roosevelt wrote to the took place in the Caribbean in early. Major General Commandant of the 1940 There he discovered that sever. On the Cover The Browning air cooled Marine Corps and recommended cre al factors to include the lack of. 30 caliber machine gun was the weapon ation of ifa unit for purposes similar adequate landing craft made it im. of choice for raider battalions because of to the British Commandos and the possible to rapidly build up combat. it5 low weight in comparison to other Chinese Guerrillas power on a hostile shore The initial. available machine guns The raider bat, talions were not armed with heavy assault elements would thus be vul. These ideas were appealing at the, weapons Department of Defense Pho nerable to counterattack and defeat.
time because the war was going bad,to USMC 56108 while most of the amphibious force. ly for the Allies The Germans had remained on board its transports. At left Marine riflemen take on Japanese forced the British off the continent of. snipers while others put a captured Europe and the Japanese were As a partial response to this. 37mm field gun into operation during, sweeping the United States and Bri problem Smith seized upon the new. the raid on Koiari Parachutists and raid, ers expected to surprise the enemy but tain from much of the Pacific The ly developed destroyer transport. were themselves surprised instead when military forces of the Allies were too During FLEX 6 his plan called for the. they landed in the midst of a well weak to slug it out in conventional Manley APD 1 to land a company. defended supply dump The enemy battles with the Axis powers so guer of the 5th Marines via rubber boats. pinned the Marines to the beach with rilla warfare and quick raids ap at H minus three hours prior to. heavy fire until evening Department of peared to be viable alternatives The dawn at a point away from the. Defense Photo USMC 69783 British commandos had already con primary assault beach This force. Major General Merritt A Edson USMC, erritt A Edson s military name Red Mike in honor of the color. career began in the fall of ful beard he sported in the field. 1915 when he enlisted in the Edson spent the first half of the 1930s. 1st Vermont Infantry a National Guard as a tactics instructor at the Basic School. outfit In the summer of 1916 he served for new lieutenants and then as ord. in the Mexican border campaign When nance officer at the Philadelphia Depot. the United States entered World War I of Supplies During the summers he con. in April 1917 he earned a commission tinued to shoot ultimately he captained. as a Marine officer but he did not ar the rifle team to consecutive national. rive in France until just before the Ar championships in 1935 and 1936 In the. mistice summer of 1937 he transferred to Shan, He ultimately more than made up for ghai to become the operations officer for.
missing out on the war to end all wars the 4th Marines He arrived just in time. In 1921 he began his long career in com for a ringside seat when the Sino. petitive shooting as part of the 10 man Japanese War engulfed that city That. team that won the National Rifle Team gave him ample opportunity to observe Force Pacific and closed out the war in. Trophy for the Marine Corps He earned Japanese combat techniques at close charge of the Service Command. his pilot s wings in 1922 and flew for five range In June 1941 Red Mike assumed Following the war Edson headed the. years before poor depth perception command of the 1st Battalion 5th Ma effort to preserve the Marine Corps in. forced him back into the infantry In rines at Quantico the face of President Truman s drive to. 1927 he received command of the Ma After his stint with the 1st Raiders and unify the services lie waged a fierce. rine detachment on board the Denver the 5th Marines on Guadalcanal Edson campaign in the halls of Congress in the. CL 16 He and his men soon became remained in the Pacific He served as media and in public appearances across. involved in the effort to rid Nicaragua chief of staff of the 2d Marine Division the nation Finally he resigned his com. of Augusto Sandino Edson spent 14 at Tarawa and as assistant division com mission in order to testify publicly be. months ashore most of it deep in the in mander on Saipan and Tinian During fore committees of both houses of. terior of the country In the process he each of these campaigns he again distin Congress His efforts played a key role. won a reputation as an aggressive sav guished himself under fire Ultimately in preserving the Marine Corps After. vy small unit leader He bested Sandi the Marine Corps discovered that Ed stints as the Commissioner of Public. no s forces in more than a dozen son s courage was matched by his skill Safety in Vermont and as Executive. skirmishes earned his first Navy Cross as a staff officer He spent nine months Director of the National Rifle Associa. for valor and came away with the nick as chief of staff for the Fleet Marine tion Edson died in August 1955. would advance inland seize key ter regiment gliderborne troops a light directly to his headquarters The. rain dominating the proposed beach tank battalion and at least one APD operations plan further attached the. head and thus protect the main highspeed destroyer transport bat Marine division s sole company of. landing from counterattack A year talion With a relatively secure tanks and its single company of. later during FLEX 7 Smith had three beachhead the more ponderous parachutists to the APD battalion. destroyer transports He designated combat units of the assault force The general did not use this task. the three companies of the 7th Ma would come ashore The third eche force to lead the assault but instead. rines embarked on these ships as the lon would consist of the reserve force landed it on D plus 2 of the exercise. Mobile Landing Group During the and service units on a beach well in the rear of the ene. exercise these units again made night In the summer of 1941 Smith was my s lines With all aviation assets. landings to protect the main assault nearly in a position to put these ideas working in direct support the mo. or conducted diversionary attacks into effect He now commanded the bile force quickly moved inland sur. Smith eventually crystallized his Amphibious Force Atlantic Fleet prised and destroyed the enemy. new ideas about amphibious opera AFAF which consisted of the 1st reserves and took control of key. tions He envisioned making future Marine Division and the Army s 1st lines of communication Smith called. assaults with three distinct echelons Infantry Division During maneuvers it a spearhead thrust around the. The first wave would be composed at the recently acquired Marine base hostile flank. of fast moving forces that could seize at New River North Carolina Smith The AFAF commander had not. key terrain prior to the main assault embarked the 1st Battalion 5th Ma randomly selected the 1st Battalion. This first element would consist of a rines in six APDs and made it an in 5th Marines for this role In June. parachute regiment an air infantry dependent command reporting 1941 he personally had picked Lieu. tenant Colonel Merritt A Red Mike thing of headquarters recommended a new table of organi. Edson to command that battalion Edson s unit was unique in other zation that made his force much. and had designated it to serve per ways In a lengthy August 1941 lighter than other infantry battalions. manently with the Navy s APD squa report the lieutenant colonel evalu He wanted to trade in his 81mm mor. dron Smith began to refer to Edson s ated the organization and missions tars and heavy machine guns for. outfit as the light battalion or the of his unit He believed that the APD lighter models There also would be. APD battalion When the 5th Ma battalion would focus primarily fewer of these weapons but they. rines and the other elements of the on reconnaissance raids and other would have larger crews to carry the. 1st Marine Division moved down to special operations in his mind it ammunition Given the limitations of. New River that fall the 1st Battal was a waterborne version of the the APDs each company would be. ion remained behind in Quantico parachutists In a similar fashion the smaller than its standard counter. with Force headquarters Reports go battalion would rely on speed and part There would be four rifle com. ing to and from AFAF placed the bat mobility not firepower as its tacti panies a weapons company and a. talion in a category separate from the cal mainstay Since the APDs could headquarters company with a large. rest of the division of which it was neither embark nor offload vehicles demolitions platoon The main as. still technically a part Lieutenant that meant the battalion had to be sault craft would be 10 man rubber. Colonel Gerald C Thomas the di entirely foot mobile once ashore boats. vision operations officer ruefully again like the parachutists To The only thing that kept Smith. referred to the battalion as the play achieve rapid movement Edson from formally removing the 1st Bat. Brigadier General Evans E Carlson USMC, vans K Carlson got an early orgia In the latter job Carlson came to. start in his career as a maverick know Franklin D Roosevelt. He ran away from his home in Captain Carlson arrived in Shanghai. Vermont at the age of 14 and two years for his third China tour in July 1937. later bluffed his way past the recruiters Again like Edson he watched the. to enlist in the Army When war broke Japanese seize control of the city. out in 1917 he already had five years Detailed to duty as an observer Carlson. of service under his belt Like Merritt A sought and received permission to ac. Edson he soon won a commission but company the Chinese Communist. arrived at the front too late to see com Party s 8th Route Army which was fight. bat After the war he tried to make it as ing against the Japanese For the next. a salesman but gave that up in 1922 and year he divided his time between the. enlisted in the Marine Corps In a few front lines and the temporary Chinese. months he earned a commission again capital of Hangkow During that time he. Other than a failed attempt at flight developed his ideas on guerrilla warfare. school his first several years as a Ma and ethical indoctrination When a ly brought him onto active duty Ten. rine lieutenant were unremarkable senior naval officer censured him for months later he created the 2d Raider. In 1927 Carlson deployed to Shanghai granting newspaper interviews Carlson Battalion. with the 4th Marines There he became returned to the States and resigned so After his departure from the raiders in. regimental intelligence officer and deve that he could speak out about the situa 1943 Carlson served as operations. loped a deep interest in China that tion in China He believed passionately officer of the 4th Marine Division He. From Makin to Bougainville Marine Raiders in the Pacific War by Major Jon I Hoffman USMCR n February 1942 Lieu tenant General Thomas Holcomb the Com mandant of the Marine

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