Preserving the History of World War II
A Pennsylvania boy, born in Charleroi, PA, Mitch grew up as the typical small-town American boy. His family had
immigrated to the United States at the turn of the century and instilled in him a great love for God and his
country, America. Mitch wrote, “I will never forget listening to the exciting stories of American history in my
school when I was a child. I learned all about the men who gave their lives to make this country free.” Along
with what he learned from his parents and teachers, he carried with him values learned in the Boy Scouts while
acquiring the rank of Eagle Scout and lived his life by the Boy Scout Oath, which reads:
“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake and morally straight.”
He went off in 1936 to join the Marine Corps to seek adventure, serve his nation, and see the world. When war
with Japan broke out in 1941, Mitch was a platoon sergeant in charge of a machine gun platoon with the 7th
Regiment, 1st Marine Division. On October 23, 1942 on the Island of Guadalcanal, he and his 33 men held off
approximately 3,000 Japanese soldiers in an attack that threatened Henderson Airfield. He was awarded the
Medal of Honor for his actions.
Paige rose through the ranks of the Marine Corps after a battlefield commission in 1943, retiring as a full colonel
After retirement he became involved in the scientific research and development of various miniature rockets
and rocket weaponry. With orders from President Johnson, Mitch went to Vietnam in 1967 to test the weapon
company’s 13mm handgun and 13mm Foliage Penetrating Signal Distress Kit in combat conditions. Further
involvement with development of military items led to his invention of the “TUPIT” (The Universal Paige
Inflatable Tent), the design of which was donated to U.S. Army laboratories.
Later in life, he served as an official liaison between the FBI and the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to
expose and prosecute imposters claiming to be Medal of Honor winners until his death in 2003.
The Eldred World War II Museum is proud to share the story of an American Hero Col. Mitchell Paige. Visitors to
the Museum can see Col. Paige's Medal of Honor, Battlefiield Artifacts, see a statue commissioned to remember
Col. Paige's heroism, and hear Col. Paige's story in "his own words."
|Eldred WWII Museum & Learning Center
201 Main Street
Eldred, PA 16731
Eldred is 80 miles south of Buffalo, NY
The Eldred World War II Museum
|Colonel Mitchell Paige
|Reflections From An American Hero
by Col. Mitchell Paige
Often I am asked the questions "Why, as a Marine, were you willing to put your life on the line for your
county?" and "Were you afraid during your battles in the South Pacific in World War II?" The answers took me
back to my childhood and to a small three room, country school in Pennsylvania where the children were so
steeped in the legends and traditions of America that they literally felt themselves a part of our glorious
heritage. Each day after the bell rang we marched into our classrooms to the rousing strains of one of John
Philip Sousa's marches played on the old, upright piano by one of our teachers. Then, as we stood by our
desks, the teacher read a verse from the Bible and we pledged allegiance to the flag of our country, which
hung in every classroom, before we sat down for our normal school day.
My parents had admonished me to listen and to learn all I could about this wonderful country, America! They
had emigrated from Europe about the turn of the century, and they fully understood the importance of all the
freedoms that so many took for granted. My mother never failed to take me to the patriotic parades where I
saw the soldiers, sailors, and Marines march by with flags flying and bands playing. What a thrill and joy that
I will never forget listening to the exciting stories of American history in my school. I learned all about the men
who gave their lives to make this country free. We had to memorize all the great documents such as the
Gettysburg Address, John Adam's magnificent, spine-tingling speech given on July 4, 1776, in Independence
Hall in Philadelphia, when our country was born. I can still recite it by memory to this day. Every American
should and must be familiar with the trials and tribulations experienced by our great Founding Fathers as
they established the very bedrock of the United States of America.
This history with its heroes is a truly necessary foundation for every American boy and girl. Without this
knowledge, how can they understand why our nation became the great country that it is today? My parents
and teachers instilled in me a devout love of God, family and country.
So, to respond to those who ask, why were you willing to put your life on the line? My response is, "my
undying love of country, and my strong loyalty to the Marines fighting by my side gave me no choice but to
fight on unswervingly throughout my battles, utilizing my God-given ability to make use of what I had been
taught and what I learned."
When I left home in 1936 to walk two-hundred miles to Baltimore, Maryland, the nearest recruiting station, to
join the Marine Corps, my mother's admonition to me was, as she handed me my sack lunch, "Trust in the
Lord, son, and He will guide you always." These words forever remained in my mind and whenever fear would
overtake me I was comforted.
I will never forget sitting in a foxhole, bloody, burned, and injured the morning after our all night, fierce, hand-
to-hand battle against an overwhelming Japanese force on Guadalcanal… I was alone except for hundreds of
dead bodies of the enemy surrounding me. I emptied my pack looking for something to stop the bleeding from
a bayonet wound and out fell my small Bible. Picking it up in my dirty, bloody, hands I could scarcely believe it
when providentially it opened at Proverbs 3:5-6 and there were my mother's words, "Trust in the Lord with all
your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your