Edson, Merritt, born 25-04-1897 Rutland, Vermont, joined the Marine Corps Reserve on 26-06-1917. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on 09-10-1917 and in September of the next year he sailed for France with the 11th Marines . This regiment saw no combat, but during the last six months of his European tour, he commanded Company D, 15th Separate Marine Battalion. Colonel Edson’s introduction to the Pacific theater of operations began with the overseas training of his raider command in American Samoa. On 07-08-1942, his raiders, , together with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines , landed on Tulagi, British Solomon Islands. The battle he is best known for was the defense of Lunga Ridge on Guadalcanal, September 13–14-1942. The Battle of Edson’s Ridge, also known as the Battle of the Bloody Ridge, Battle of Raiders Ridge, and Battle of the Ridge, was a land battle of the Pacific campaign between Imperial Japanese Army and Allied, mainly United States Marine Corps ground forces. It took place from 12–14 September 1942, on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, and was the second of three separate major Japanese ground offensives during the Guadalcanal. In September, Edson’s Battalion raided Tasimboko. Here they were successful as well – but their greatest success was the discovery of a great deal of intelligence documents. These documents confirmed that the Japanese were about to launch a major attack on Guadalcanal. In response to this, Edson with men from the Parachute Marines, were ordered to defend a ridge one mile from Henderson Field on Guadalcanal. On September 12th, the Japanese attacked with ferocity. On several occasions, it seemed as if the Raiders line might fall but on each occasion it held out. When the Japanese had stopped their attack on September 13.600 Japanese soldiers were found dead and captured records later showed that 1500 others later died of their wounds – such was the ferocity of fighting. Known as the Battle of Bloody Ridge, the Raiders and associated units, lost 40 dead and 130 wounded. Edson was awarded the Medal of Honour.
His nickname, “Red Mike”, originating from his red beard worn in Nicaragua days, was also his code name during this battle. From then on he was known by all as “Red Mike”. In August 1943, he was named Chief of Staff of the 2nd Marine Division, nickname “The Silent Second” which was then preparing for the invasion of Tarawa. Brigadier General Edson became Chief of Staff, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific and in October 1944 was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Legion of Merit . Duty as Commanding General, Service Command, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific. When a young officer asked him when he might expect to be rotated back to the United States, Brigade General Edson replied, “When the war’s over; when the job’s done.” He was promoted to Major General at the time of his retirement on 01-08-1947.
Death and burial ground of Edson, Merritt Austin “Red Mike “.
He died, on 14-08-1955, at the age of 58, in Washington, D.C., by his own hand, having committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage next to his Washington, D.C. home, while serving in the NRA post. Red Mike is buried with his wife, Ethel, born Robbins, who died age 89 in 1985, on Arlington Cemetery, in Section 2. Close by in Section 2, the graves of the General, Commander 92nd “ Negro Division”, Edward “Ned” Almond, Major General, Commander 8th Bomber Command Europe, Frederick Anderson, Rear Admiral, Commander Destroyer Greyson, Frederic Bell, Navy Admiral, “Operation Crossroads”, William Blandy, General, Commander 32nd Infantry Division , Clovis Byers, Navy Admiral, Battle of the Leyte Gulf, Robert Carney, Air Force General Lieutenant, Claire Chennault
, U.S. 4* Navy Vice Admiral. Commander U.S.S. Hornet, Doolittle Raid, Marc Mitscher.