Gudalcanal - 'Carlson's Raiders' return
4th December 1942: The 2nd Marine Raider Battalion returns from the legendary 'Long Patrol' - one of the first US "Special Forces' operations
Lt. Colonel Evans Fordyce Carlson had served as a military observer with the Chinese Communist Party’s 8th Route Army in 1937. He was inspired by their guerrilla tactics and the high morale of their raiding parties, operating behind the lines against the Japanese invaders.
In particular, he was impressed by the relative unimportance of rank in small groups of heavily armed men, who would discuss their tactics and operating methods together rather than relying on top-down orders. It was more important that they all understood the overall mission and were deeply committed to what they were fighting for. He would bring this approach back to the US Marine Corps with a group ethos he described as “Gung-Ho” - a Chinese term - loosely translated as ‘working together’ or ‘working in harmony’.
He produced a highly motivated, high-morale unit of men with this approach. The 2nd Marine Raider Battalion was undoubtedly also influenced by his charismatic leadership. Other Marine units looked on and began to regard the “Gung-Ho” method as a term for an overzealous enthusiasm for combat. Later another officer would acknowledge that Carlson “may be Red, but he isn’t yellow” - he led from the front and shared the dangers and privations of his men.
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