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Friday, October 26, 2012
TFH 10/26: Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige, USMC
Mitchell Paige, born Mihajlo Pejić on August 31, 1918 to Serbian immigrants in Charleroi, Pennsylvania (near Pittsburgh), enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1936 after graduating from McKeesport High School.
During the Guadalcanal Campaign, then-Platoon Sergeant Paige was commanding a machine gun section on October 26, 1942 (much as Sergeant John Basilone had the two previous days) against overwhelming enemy opposition. The best chronicle of his heroism with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment is simply his citation for the Medal of Honor.
Rank and organization: Platoon Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Place and date: Solomon Islands, 26 October 1942. Entered service at: Pennsylvania. Born: 31 August 1918, Charleroi, Pa. Citation: For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry in action above and beyond the call of duty while serving with a company of marines in combat against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on 26 October 1942. When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. 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 fought with 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 breakthrough in our lines. His great personal valor and unyielding devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
Paige received a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant while still fighting on Guadalcanal in December, 1942. He continued in service to our Nation in the Marines through the Korean War and retired as a Colonel in 1959. He passed away at age 85 on November 15, 2003 and rests in peace at the Riverside National Cemetery in California.
About six months before his death, the Boy Scouts of America presented Paige with his Eagle Scout award - earned in 1936, but never presented since he left home to serve our country.