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Marines Revive “Raider” Moniker

by Robert W. Hunnicutt   |  June 19th, 2015 0

Marie-Raiders_2The U.S. Marine Corps has revived the “Raider” name for its special operations units in a public relations effort to keep up with other services’ elite formations like the Navy SEALs or the Army’s Delta Force.

Marine special units had been listed under the uninspiring acronym MARSOC, which clearly didn’t have the cachet of the Army and Navy equivalents. There had for years been resistance inside the Corps to naming a special unit, on the logical grounds that the USMC regards all its troops as special. But the publicity imperative won out in a time of shrinking defense budgets, and now elite Marines will be called Raiders.

The original Marine Raider battalions hold a particular place in firearms history, as they carried some unusual small arms, including the Reising submachine gun. They fought along the Para-Marines, who were issued the Johnson rifle and light machine gun.

The Raiders made their name in the early Pacific Theater battles of Tulagi and Guadalcanal. Their most famous engagement was the Battle of Lunga Ridge, also known as Edson’s Ridge for the unit’s commander Merritt A. “Red Mike” Edson. Edson, already a Navy Cross holder, won the Medal of Honor for actions at the ridge. His 800 Raiders and Para-Marines held off an attack by 2,500 Japanese that prevented the enemy from capturing the crucial Henderson Field airbase.

Edson went on to earn the rank of major general, and was at the time of his death in 1955 executive director of the NRA.

As a taxpayer, I wonder just how many elite military formations we need or can afford, but as a firearms fancier, it’s great to see the Marine Raider name revived.

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