In 1942, it came down to one Marine
By VIN SUPRYNOWICZ
It's hard to envision -- or, for the dwindling few, to remember -- what the world looked like on Oct. 26, 1942, when a few thousand U.S. Marines stood essentially stranded on the God-forsaken jungle island of Guadalcanal, placed like a speed bump at the end of the long blue-water slot between New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, the most likely route for the Japanese Navy to take if they hoped to reach Australia.
On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield. Japanese Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto knew what that meant. No effort would be spared to dislodge these upstart Yanks. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven supporting U.S. Navy vessels from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.
As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully placing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings, manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault everyone expected on the night of Oct. 25, 1942, it's unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to what had previously been a mainly theoretical question: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against a desperate attacking force of 2,000?
Nor did the commanders of the mighty Japanese Army, who had swept all before them for decades -- OK, they decided not to push Marshall Zhukov any further in Manchuria -- expect their advance to be halted on some God-forsaken jungle ridge manned by one thin line of Yanks in khaki in October 1942.
But by the time the night was over, "The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men," writes naval historian David Lippman. "The 16th (Japanese) Regiment's losses are uncounted, but the 164th's burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. ... The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low."
You've already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven't you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige's platoon. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.
The citation for Paige's Medal of Honor picks up the tale: "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."
In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings -- the same design which John Moses Browning famously fired for a continuous 25 minutes until it ran out of ammunition, glowing cherry red, at its first U.S. Army trial -- and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went. And the weapon did not fail.
Coming up at dawn, battalion exec Maj. Odell M. Conoley was first to discover the answer to our question. On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige, alone, sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring. One hill. One Marine.
But "in the early morning light, the enemy could be seen a few yards off, and vapor from the barrels of their machine guns was clearly visible," reports Lippman, the historian. "It was decided to try to rush the position."
For the task, Maj. Conoley gathered together "three enlisted communication personnel, several riflemen, a few company runners who were at the point, together with a cook and a few messmen who had brought food to the position the evening before." Joined by Paige, this ad hoc force of 17 Marines counterattacked at 5:40 a.m. Discovering that "the extremely short range allowed the optimum use of grenades," they cleared the ridge.
And that's where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke and began to recede. Sixty-seven years ago, on an unnamed ridge on an insignificant jungle island. But who remembers, today, how close-run a thing it was -- or why we found ourselves in such desperate straits in 1942? .....
But once, 85 long years ago, the arrogant victorious allies quibbled about whether bankrupt Germany should be made to pay them $4 billion or $10 billion in reparations over the next 60 years, as frustrated German veterans in Bavaria grew fed up and marched down to join the German Workers' Party, an outfit that promised them a rebirth of Aryan glory, a "New Deal," if you will.
Once, those who sought "peace, peace at any price" sold scrap steel to the Japanese, attended "peace conferences," stood by and hoped for the best as Hitler re-militarized the Rhineland and then grabbed Austria and the Sudentenland in what we now know were a series of huge bluffs -- the fuhrer started out using "tanks" that would barely have stood up to a cap pistol.
We gave away our advantages, one by one, based on our trust in the good will of man. Till it came down to one Marine. Shall we have to cut it that close, again?
My granddaughter, Ashley is a recent college grad. She drives a flashy hybrid car, wears all the latest fashions, and loves to go out to nightclubs and restaurants. Ashley campaigned hard for Barack Obama. After the election she made sure I (and all other Republican family members) received a big I told-you-so earful on how the world is going to be a much better place now that her party is taking over.
Having lost both roommates, Ashley recently ran short of cash and cannot pay the rent (again) on her 3 bedroom townhouse. Like she has done many times in the past, she e-mailed me asking for some financial help. Here is my reply:
I received your request for assistance.
Ashley, you know I love you dearly and I’m sympathetic to your financial plight. Unfortunately, times have changed. With the election of President Obama, your grandmother and I have had to set forth a bold new economic plan of our own…”The Ashley Economic Empowerment Plan.” Let me explain.
Your grandmother and I are life-long, wage-earning tax payers. We have lived a comfortable life, as you know, but we have never had the fancier things like European vacations, luxury cars, etc. We have worked hard and were looking forward to retiring soon. But the plan has changed. Your president is raising our personal and business taxes significantly. He says it is so he can give our hard earned money to other people. Do you know what this means, Ashley? It means less for us, and we must cut back on many business and personal expenses.
You know the wonderful receptionist who worked in my office for more than 23 years? The one who always gave you candy when you came over to visit? I had to let her go last week. I can’t afford to pay her salary and all of the government mandated taxes that go with having employees. Your grandmother will now work 4 days a week to answer phones, take orders and handle the books. We will be closed on Fridays and will lose even more income to the Wal-Mart.
I’m also very sorry to report that your cousin Frank will no longer be working summers in the warehouse. I called him at school this morning. He already knows about it and he’s upset because he will have to give up skydiving and his yearly trip to Greenland to survey the polar bears.
That’s just the business side of things. Some personal economic effects of Obama’s new taxation policies include none other than you. You know very well that over the years your grandmother and I have given you thousands of dollars in cash, tuition assistance, food, housing, clothing, gifts, etc., etc. But by your vote, you have chosen to help others — not at your expense — but at our expense.
If you need money now, sweetheart, I recommend you call 202-456-1111. That is the direct phone number for the White House. You yourself told me how foolish it is to vote Republican. You said Mr. Obama is going to be the People’s President, and is going to help every American live a better life. Based on everything you’ve told me, along with all the promises we heard during the campaign, I’m sure Mr. Obama will be happy to transfer some stimulus money into your bank account. Have him call me for the account number which I memorized years ago.
Perhaps you can now understand what I’ve been saying all my life: those who vote for a president should consider the impact on the nation as a whole, and not be just concerned with what they can get for themselves. What Obama supporters don’t seem to realize is all of the money he is redistributing to illegal aliens and non-taxpaying Americans (the so-called “less fortunate”) comes from tax-paying families.
Remember how you told me, “Only the richest of the rich will be affected”? Well guess what, honey? Because we own a business, your grandmother and I are now considered to be the richest of the rich. On paper, it might look that way, but in the real world, we are far from it.
As you said while campaigning for Obama, some people will have to carry more of the burden so all of America can prosper. You understand what that means, right? It means that raising taxes on productive people results in them having less money; less money for everything, including granddaughters.
I’m sorry, Ashley, but the well has run dry. The free lunches are over. I have no money to give you now. So, congratulations on your choice for “change.” For future reference, I encourage you to try and add up the total value of the gifts and cash you have received from us, just since you went off to college, and compare it to what you expect to get from Mr. Obama over the next 4 (or 8) years. I have not kept track of it, Ashley. It has all truly been the gift of our hearts.
Remember, we love you dearly….but from now on you’ll need to call the number mentioned above. Your “Savior” has the money we would have given to you. Just try and get it from him.
Good luck, sweetheart.
I have just put up here a once-famous 1936 essay by W.T. Stace called "THE SNOBBISHNESS OF THE LEARNED". He expresses views that have long been mine also.
NASA is “go” for crucial rocket test: "NASA is set to blast off a prototype rocket on Tuesday that carries hopes of returning humans to the Moon, and for the first time to Mars, despite deep uncertainty about the program’s future. The space agency said everything is in order for Tuesday’s two-minute, 30-second test of the Ares I-X rocket, a first look at the launch vehicle designed to replace NASA’s aging space shuttle fleet.”
OK: New abortion laws spark court battles: "Two new laws being challenged in the Oklahoma courts would give the state some of the strictest abortion laws in the country by forcing women to answer questions about race and their relationships, and to listen to a doctor talk them through an ultrasound. Legal challenges to the laws are in their early stages, but observers say the trajectory of cases could mirror that of the partial-birth abortion debate, which went through Nebraska courts and was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court before Congress made it a federal law that was upheld in 2007…. Opponents of the laws say they were drafted to make a woman’s already difficult decision to have an abortion even more difficult.”
The best plan: No plan: "A guy in Florida, who figured out a new way to keep bugs off his oranges, made it happen. But not by himself. A guy who started a little trucking company in Texas, who figured out how to make things run just a bit faster and more efficiently, made it happen. But not by himself. A farmer in Iowa, who put in the extra time to cultivate that extra field, made it happen. But not by himself. Millions of individuals, not governed or guided by any central plan, most of them not even aware of the rest of the picture, made it happen. But if there was no master plan making them all do what they do, and making them all work together in harmony, what could possibly have made it all work? Simple: the quest for personal gain.”
Kemp’s keys: "I believe that free-market capitalism — on the supply-side and along with King Dollar — is the best path to prosperity. That’s the model my late dear friend Jack Kemp successfully espoused to President Reagan more than 30 years ago. It’s the incentive model of economic growth. It conquered the inflation of the Carter years, and launched a 20-year prosperity that saw the creation of 45 million new jobs and a twelve-fold stock market increase. It’s the model that expanded the investor class to 100 million strong through the Clinton 1990s. I spoke this week at the launch of the Jack Kemp Foundation in Washington, and I emphasized this model along with the universal, timeless economic principles on which it is based. Today this model seems all but forgotten in the nation’s capital, but I firmly believe it is just what we need to reignite American economic growth and exceptionalism.”
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)