Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Marine Corps

Merritt Austin "red mike" Edson

  • Rank: Colonel (Highest Rank: Major General)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    1st Marine Raider Battalion
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: September 13 - 14, 1942
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, with Parachute Battalion attached, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on the night of 13-14 September 1942. After the airfield on Guadalcanal had been seized from the enemy on 8 August, Col. Edson, with a force of 800 men, was assigned to the occupation and defense of a ridge dominating the jungle on either side of the airport. Facing a formidable Japanese attack which, augmented by infiltration, had crashed through our front lines, he, by skillful handling of his troops, successfully withdrew his forward units to a reserve line with minimum casualties. When the enemy, in a subsequent series of violent assaults, engaged our force in desperate hand-to-hand combat with bayonets, rifles, pistols, grenades, and knives, Col. Edson, although continuously exposed to hostile fire throughout the night, personally directed defense of the reserve position against a fanatical foe of greatly superior numbers. By his astute leadership and gallant devotion to duty, he enabled his men, despite severe losses, to cling tenaciously to their position on the vital ridge, thereby retaining command not only of the Guadalcanal airfield, but also of the 1st Division's entire offensive installations in the surrounding area.
Medal of Honor Recipient Merritt Austin "red mike" Edson
Medal of Honor Recipient Merritt Austin "red mike" Edson
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Vermont
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: May 21, 1943
    Balcombe, Australia, presented by Maj. Gen. Alexander A. Vandegrift
  • Born: April 25, 1897, Rutland, Rutland County, VT, United States
  • Died: August 14, 1955, Washington, DC, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery (2-4960-2), Arlington, VA, United States
  • Location of Medal: National Museum of the US Marine Corps, Quantico, VA

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