EDSON, MERRITT AUSTIN
Rank and organization: Colonel, U.S.
Marine Corps. Born: 25 April 1897, Rutland, Vt. Appointed from: Vermont.
Other Navy awards: Navy Cross with Gold Star, Silver Star Medal, Legion of Merit
with Gold Star.
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty as
Commanding Officer of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion, with Parachute Battalion attached,
during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Solomon Islands on the night of 1314
September 1942. After the airfield on Guadalcanal had been seized from the enemy on 8
August, Col. Edson, with a force of 800 men, was assigned to the occupation and defense of
a ridge dominating the jungle on either side of the airport. Facing a formidable Japanese
attack which, augmented by infiltration, had crashed through our front lines, he, by
skillful handling of his troops, successfully withdrew his forward units to a reserve line
with minimum casualties. When the enemy, in a subsequent series of violent assaults,
engaged our force in desperate hand-to-hand combat with bayonets, rifles, pistols,
grenades, and knives, Col. Edson, although continuously exposed to hostile fire throughout
the night, personally directed defense of the reserve position against a fanatical foe of
greatly superior numbers. By his astute leadership and gallant devotion to duty, he
enabled his men, despite severe losses, to cling tenaciously to their position on the
vital ridge, thereby retaining command not only of the Guadalcanal airfield, but also of
the 1st Division's entire offensive installations in the surrounding area.