Colonel Mitch Paige passed away on November 15, 2003. We are pleased to keep his website here so those who never had the opportunity to meet this great man, can still hear his story.
"I am proud to be a citizen of a nation whose objective is peace and goodwill for all mankind. A nation which has contributed so much for the benefit of peoples all over the world. A nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. I am proud to be an American. I can never believe it is old fashioned to love our Flag and Country nor can I ever believe it is being square to stand in readiness behind our flag to defend those ideals for which it stands against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
Mitch Paige, MOH
Colonel Mitchell Paige
"An American Hero for our Time"
The distinguished history of the United States Marine Corps is replete with accounts of determination, fortitude, courage and sacrifice. The Few...the Proud...the men who wear the distinctive Eagle, Globe and Anchor are proud of that history and the Corps' many heroes and legends. Among their roll of honor are men like Chesty Puller, Louis Cukela, Smedley Butler, Daniel Joseph Daly,
.....and Mitchell Mitch Paige.
Platoon Sergeant Mitchell Paige achieved his place in Leatherneck lore for a courageous stand one dark night in 1942 on the island of Guadalcanal, where he redefined the term Fighting Marine. He is remembered as a young hero who went on to serve 28 years in the Corps before retiring in 1964.
Mitch Paige the man is best remembered as a peaceful, humble man of intense faith who has dedicated his life to serving his country in peace and war for more than eighty years.
Mitch was born to a hard-working railroad construction family of Serbian ancestry on August 31, 1918, in the small town of Charleroi, Pennsylvania. While completing high school in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, Mitch was active in the Boy Scout program at his school. His mother taught him never to forget his Serbian roots, but always to be thankful for the privilege of living in America. Patriotism was an important part of his learning process.
At the age of seventeen Mitch attempted to enlist in the Marine Corps, but was denied due his youth. He returned on his 18th birthday in 1936 to reaffirm his commitment to service. Following boot camp at Parris Island, SC Mitch went on to serve in Cuba where his fellow Leathernecks had served since the Spanish-American War.
At the start of that conflict, the United States had fewer than 3,000 Marines in service, most scattered around the globe on Navy ships and at every American Embassy in the world . Everything changed when Lieutenant Colonel Robet W. Huntington landed his 1st Marine Battalion at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on June 10, 1898. Outnumbered ten-to-one, the 623-man battalion secured the area and held it for the next half century.
Following the Spanish-American War, in 1913 the Advanced Base Brigade of Marines was formed in Philadelphia. These Marines continued to build an admirable reputation of heroism and service in Mexico, Haiti, Nicaragua, and elsewhere throughout the Caribbean. Among the legendary early Marines Mitch was privileged to serve was Herman Henry Hanneken who, as a young second lieutenant, earned the Medal of Honor in Haiti. "Of all the jungle fighters who have ever lived," Mitch states without hesitation, "Herman Henry Hanneken was the greatest of them all."
On February 1, 1941 the 1st Marine Division was formed at Guantanamo Bay. It was the first Division in Marine Corps history. Within 18 months this new Division would conduct the first American offensive of World War II on the island of Guadalcanal. It was there, just one month after his 24th birthday, that Mitch Paige would meet his greatest challenge, and earn the Medal of Honor.
Mitch went on to serve 28 years in the Corps holding practically every rank and assignment of an Infantry platoon from private to commanding officer. He retired as a Colonel on July 1, 1964. He remained very active in veterans' programs and for decades beyond his retirement was a popular guest and speaker for activities around the nation. The interest in Mitch's story begged for a book, a project Mitch at first was hesitant to undertake. Thanks to urging from Mitch's close friend actor Lee Marvin however, A Marine Named Mitch was published in 1975.
"Our history, with its heroes, is a truly necessary foundation for every American boy and girl," Mitch wrote for fellow MOH recipient Pete Lemon's 1997 book Beyond the Medal. "Without this knowledge, how can they understand why our nation became the great country that it is today?" Ironically, it is Mitch himself who has become one of those necessary heroes. When Hasbro Toy Company released its Classic Collection GI Joe figures, one was created to remember the young hero of Guadalcanal himself. The Mitchell Paige GI Joe figure was released in 1998.
Mitch and his wife Marilyn make their home in California, where they are both trying to slow down some. For decades they have worked hard towards patriotic education as well as programs within the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Over the decades Mitch has received and responded to tens of thousands of letters, and always been gracious with photos and autographs.
This year Mitch will celebrate his 85th birthday. The last five years have been difficult ones, his ability to continue his important work often hampered by repeated surgery and concerns for his heart. Regretfully, Mitch is no longer able to personally respond to the hundreds of letters he often gets each month. For that reason, Mitch and Marilyn request that you do not write requesting photos or autographs. With this website it is their hope that they can share a part of their lives with you.
To Enter Mitch Paige's Website
Copyright © 2003 Mitchell Paige. All rights reserved.
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