Legendary Military Units: US Marine Raiders – “Gung-ho!”

marine raiders

The Marine Raiders were a unique amphibious unit that the Marine Corps created in World War II. Two of the most well-known battalions were “Carlson’s Raiders” and “Edson’s Raiders.”

The British Commandos were operating in Europe and North Africa, piquing the interest of President Roosevelt. He spoke with Major General Thomas Holcomb, and they pulled two battalions out of the 1st Battalion Fifth Marines Division and named them the Raiders.

Nimitz looked forward to creating these units because raids could now happen before invasions on the Japanese-occupied islands.

Battalion Leaders

One of the leaders of the Raiders was Lieutenant Colonel Evans F. Carlson, who had a long military career. He served in Mexico dealing with Pancho Villa and was in World War I.

While in Nicaragua, he was promoted to officer and was an intelligence officer with the Fourth Marines in China. All of this experience honed his guerilla warfare skills and strategy.

The other Raider unit leader was Lieutenant Colonel Merrit Austin Edson, who had been with the Marines for many years. He fought in World War I in both France and Germany. After the war, he became a Naval Aviator.

Since he had multiple specialties, he went on missions to Central America and China. His time in China also made him the perfect choice due to his skills learned watching the Japanese invade China.

The Battalions

As far as leadership went, Carlson focused more on team building, and his strategies were not traditionally in line with the Marine Corps. On the other hand, Edson stuck closer to the Marine Corps organization and training.

Both units were deployed in August of 1942. Edson’s Raiders went to Tulagi, and Carlon’s went to Makin Island. From Tulagi, Edson’s Raiders were sent to Guadalcanal to defend Henderson Field. The Battle of Edson’s Ridge was one major victory for the Raiders over the Japanese and earned Edson the Meda of Honor.

Despite many victories, the Raiders were eventually replaced by the 1s Marine Raider Regiment in March 1943. The Raiders units were absorbed into the Marine Corps as the 4th Marines.

In 2006, the Marine Corps Special Operations Regiment was created, and much like the old Raiders group, they were handpicked from the elite. On June 19, 2015, they officially became the Marine Raiders, a nod to the original units from WWII.




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