Major General Edson was born in Rutland, Vermont on
April 25, 1897. In 1915, he attended the University of Vermont. Near the end of his sophomore year, Major
General Edson joined the Marine Corps Reserve to fight in World War I. On October 9, 1917, he was commissioned a Second
Lieutenant. For the remainder of World War I, Major General Edson served in the Eleventh Marines in France and the Fifteenth
Separate Battalion during the occupation of Germany. In 1919, Edson returned to Vermont, and in 1920, Edson married Ethe
Winifred Robbins. Shortly after, he became a member of the Marine Corps Aviation. General Edson was then ordered to sea duty
where he was ordered to Nicaragua with sixty men. Nicaragua was unbearably hot and humid, and it was extremly wearing
on the men. Between 1929 and 1931, Major General Edson served as a tactics instructor for the Second Lieutenants in
the Basic School in Philadelphia.
When Major General Edson joined the Marines, he became
involved with competitive rife and pistol marksmanship. In 1921 he became a member of the Marine
Corps Rifle Team. Because of his enormous talent, he was given the distinctive position
of Captain of the Marine Corps Rife and Pistol Team in both 1935 and 1936.
After the United
States entry into World War II, Major General Edson was assigned to Quantico as the Commanding Officer
of the first Battalion, Fifth Marines. These Raiders were known as the First Raider Battalion later
to be called “Edson’s Raiders”. It was during this time when Major General Edson became
known as “Red Mike”, his code name during the war. His men fought hard battles against
Japan with many casualties. The now famous “Red Mike” was awarded the Medal of Honor for “extraordinary
heroism above and beyond the call of duty”. Shortly after he was promoted to full Colonel
where he left the Raiders to command the fifth Marines.
Major General Edson retired from the army in 1947.
He went back to his home state of Vermont where he became the Director of the Vermont State Police.
He also became the Executive Officer of the National Rifle Association. On August 14, 1955,
Major General Edson committed suicide. He died at 58 years old from carbon monoxide poisoning.
Those who knew Major General Edson remember him for his professionalism, personal leadership when in
battle, and his love and understanding of the “soul” of a Marine. He was a strict leader,
and his thoughts were always for the welfare of his men first. He always expected is men to be on
good behavior. Major General Edson’s only rules were fighting hearts and rigid discipline. Most
of all, Major General Edson is known for his loyalty and love for his country.