- Evans Carlson
Infobox Military Person
name= Evans Fordyce Carlson
born= birth date|1896|2|26
died= death date and age|1947|5|27|1896|2|26
Sidney, New York
caption= BGen Evans Carlson
allegiance= United States of America
United States Army United States Marine Corps
serviceyears= 1912–1916, 1916–1921 (USA) 1922–1939, 1941–1946 (USMC)
rank= Brigadier General
commands=2nd Raider Battalion
World War I World War II*Makin Island Raid * Guadalcanal campaign** Carlson's patrol* Battle of Tarawa* Battle of Saipan
Navy Cross(3) Legion of Merit Purple Heart(2)
laterwork= Brigadier General Evans Fordyce Carlson (26 February, 1896–27 May, 1947) was the famed U.S. Marine Corps leader of the
World War II"Carlson's Raiders". He is renowned for the " Makin IslandRaid" on August 17, 1942 and their "Long Patrol" (aka Carlson's Patrol) from November 4, 1942 to December 4, 1942 behind Japanese lines on Guadalcanal, in which 488 Japanese were killed, 16 Raiders were killed and 18 wounded, during the Guadalcanal campaign.
Evans Carlson was born on 26 February, 1896 in
Sidney, New York, the son of a Congregationalist minister. He ran away from his home in Vermontin 1910 and two years later disguised his age to enter the United States Army.
ervice in the U.S. Army
During his first enlistment in the Army, he served in the
Philippinesand Hawaii. He was discharged in 1916 as a "top" or first sergeant. Less than a year later, he returned to the Army and participated in the Mexican punitive expedition.
World War I, he saw action in France, and was awarded a Wound Chevron(later exchanged for the Purple Heart) for wounds received in action.Fact|date=June 2008 He was commissioned a second lieutenant in May 1917, and made captain of field artillery in December 1917. He served in Germanywith the Army of Occupation. He was discharged from the Army in 1921.
Early Marine Corps career
Carlson's famed career as a Marine started in 1922 when he enlisted as a private. In 1923, he was again commissioned a second lieutenant. After duty at
Quantico, Virginia, he sailed for Culebra, Puerto Ricoin 1924 and remained there five months before being ordered to the West Coast for duty with the Pacific Fleet. Applying for aviation training in 1925, he went to Pensacola, Florida, for instruction, but was subsequently returned to duty with ground units. He served another tour of foreign shore duty from 1927 to 1929 at Shanghai, China.
Carlson was ordered to
Nicaraguain 1930 as an officer in the Guardia Nacional. A first lieutenant at the time, he earned his first Navy Crossfor leading 12 Marines against 100 bandits during the Banana Wars, in a night attack to break up a threat to his garrison. He was also commended for his actions following the 1931 earthquake at Managua, and for performance of duties as Chief of Police in 1932 and 1933.
Friendship with the Roosevelts
Returning to the United States in 1933, Captain Carlson served as
executive officerof the Marine Corps Detachment at President Roosevelt's alternative White Houseand vacation retreat at Warm Springs, Georgiawhere he became closely acquainted with President Franklin D. Rooseveltand his son James Roosevelt.
econd and third China tours
After his Warm Springs tour Carlson was posted to the
4th Marinesin Shanghai. Shortly afterward he was transferred to the Marine Detachment, American Legation, Peiping, China, where he served as Adjutant and studied the Chinese language. In 1936, he returned to the United States via Japan. At home he served at Quantico while attending Marine Corps Schools, and studying International Law and Politics at George Washington Universityin Washington, D.C.
He went back to China for the third time in 1937 as an official student of the
Chinese languageand as a military observer with Chinese forces. There he was afforded the opportunity to learn the tactics of the Japanese soldier.
Edgar Snowin China and read Snow's Red Star Over China. This encounter led him to visit the Chinese communist troop headquarters in northern China, where he met Chinese Communist leaders such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlaiand Deng Xiaoping. Traveling thousands of miles through the interior of China with the communist guerrillas, often on foot and horseback over the most hazardous terrain, he lived under the same primitive conditions. He was impressed by the tactics used by Chinese Communist guerrillas to fight Japanese troops.
When he left China in 1938, he was commended by the Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet for his services. He was so impressed with the danger of Japanese aggression in the Far East that in 1939 he resigned his commission as a captain in order to be free to write and lecture on that subject. When the danger he foresaw neared reality in 1941, he applied to be recommissioned in the Marine Corps and was accepted with the rank of major.
World War II
A year later, in 1942, he was placed in command of the Second Marine Raider Battalion with the rank of lieutenant colonel, a new combat organization whose creation he influenced. The organization and discipline of the 2nd Raiders was modeled on that of the Communist Route Armies he had observed during his time in China. Because of his relationship with President Roosevelt and the president's son, Captain
James Roosevelt, a Marine reserve captain who authored a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corpsproposing creation the Raiders, the Marine Corps authorized the creation of the Raiders despite misgivings about Carlson's philosophy. cite web | last =Hoffman | first = Maj. Jon T. (USMC) | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.nps.gov/archive/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003130-00/sec1.htm| title = Creating the raiders| format = | work = | publisher = From Makin to Bougainville: Marine Raiders in the Pacific War| accessdate = 27 Jun| accessyear = 2008]
In the pre-WWII era, there was a sharp caste-system divide between officers and enlisted personnel, and even experienced noncommissioned officers were expected to be subservient to even the newest, greenest second lieutenant. Carlson's experience in having gone back and forth between officer and enlisted status in both the Army and the Marine Corps convinced him that this was not in the best interests of the service. Carlson saw the Communist approach as superior. Leaders were expected to serve the unit and the fighters they led, not to be served. Responsibility, not privilege, would be the keyword for battalion leadership when the Second Raiders formed up. Using an egalitarian and team-building approach, Carlson promulgated a new way for senior NCOs to mentor junior officers and work with the officers for the betterment of the unit. Even more controversial in concept, Carlson gave his men "ethical indoctrination," designed to "give (his men) conviction through persuasion," describing for each man what he was fighting for and why. cite web | last =Hoffman | first = Maj. Jon T. (USMC) | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.nps.gov/archive/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003130-00/sec2.htm| title = Shaping the raiders| format = | work = | publisher = From Makin to Bougainville: Marine Raiders in the Pacific War| accessdate = 27 Jun| accessyear = 2008]
Of more lasting importance to the Marine Corps, Carlson also changed the organization of his squads, eschewing an eight-man squad dictated by the Marines in favor of a 10-man squad composed of a squad leader and three 3-man "fireteams", each containing a
Browning Automatic Rifle, a Thompson submachine gun, and an M-1 Garandrifle.
Carlson's leadership of the Second Raiders in the
Makin Raid, 17 August, 1942, earned him a Gold Star in lieu of a second Navy Cross. A second Gold Star was awarded him for heroism and distinguished leadership on Guadalcanalin November and December of that year.
On March 15, 1943, the four raider battalions were placed under the control of the newly created 1st Raider Regiment, commanded by the former commander of the 3rd Raiders, Col.
Harry B. Liversedge. A week later Carlson was relieved as commander of the 2nd Raiders by Lt. Col. Alan Shapley, an officer of much more orthodox thinking, and made executive officer of the 1st Raider Regiment. Within a month Shapley had reorganized the 2nd Raiders into a traditional organization, and Liversedge then standardized the organization of the four raider battalions along the lines of the 1st Raider Battalion, although all adopted the 3- fireteamsquad-organization concept pioneered by Carlson, which was soon adopted by the Marine Corps as a whole. cite web | last =Hoffman | first = Maj. Jon T. (USMC) | authorlink = | coauthors = | year = | url = http://www.nps.gov/archive/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003130-00/sec10.htm| title = Reshaping the raiders| format = | work = | publisher = From Makin to Bougainville: Marine Raiders in the Pacific War| accessdate = 27 Jun| accessyear = 2008 The Marines adopted a 4-man fireteam.]
Later service in the Pacific
Carlson was soon ordered back to the United States for medical treatment of malaria and jaundice, and served as a technical advisor to
Walter Wanger's "" (released December 1943). He subsequently returned to Tarawa as an observer. In its November 1943 engagement he was cited for volunteering to carry vital information through enemy fire from an advanced post to division headquarters.
He was wounded during the 1944 Saipan operation while attempting to rescue a wounded enlisted radioman from a front-line observation post, and was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Purple Heart.
Physical disability resulting from the wounds received on Saipan caused Carlson's retirement on 1 July, 1946. He was advanced to the rank of brigadier general on the retired list at that time for having been specially commended for the performance of duty in actual combat.
On 27 May, 1947, at age 51, Carlson died as the result of a cardiac ailment at Emmanuel Hospital,
Portland, Oregon. He had been living in Brightwood, Oregon, since his retirement. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Peggy Tatum Carlson, and a son by a previous marriage, Evans C. Carlson.
General Carlson is buried in
Arlington National Cemetery.
Navy Cross citations
Evans Carlson was awarded three
Navy Crosses—his first for service in Nicaragua and two for his service during World War II.
First Navy Cross: Nicaragua (May 16, 1930–May 1, 1931)
CARLSON, EVANS FORDYCE First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps Guardia Nacional de Nicaragua Date of Action: May 16, 1930–May 1, 1931 ;Citation:The Navy Cross is presented to Evans Fordyce Carlson, First Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while attached to the Guardia Nacional from 16 May, 1930 to 1 May, 1931. Upon joining the Guardia Nacional, First Lieutenant Carlson was assigned at Jalapa in the bandit area of Nueva Segovia. On 8 July, 1930, he received a report that a group of one hundred bandits were looting the town of Portillo. He immediately left with a detachment of sixteen men to gain contact. Four the men deserted en route but with the remaining twelve men he pushed on and overtook and gained contact with a group of forty bandits, completely routing them, killing two and wounding seven, without any casualties to his detachment. Arms, ammunition, equipment and clothing looted from the town of Portillo were recaptured. Lieutenant Carlson maintained his district in a most excellent manner and by his activities and well-directed operations kept it singularly free from banditry. [ [http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/1_Citations/02_interim-nc/nc_04interim_2nicaragua.html Navy Cross Awards during the 2nd Nicaraguan Campaign] , Home of Heroes.]
econd Navy Cross: Makin Island Raid (August 17–18, 1942)
CARLSON, EVANS FORDYCE Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve) Commanding Officer, 2d Marine Raider Battalion Date of Action: August 17–18, 1942
;Citation:The Navy Cross is presented to Evans Fordyce Carlson, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service as Commanding Officer of the Second Marine Raider Battalion in action against enemy Japanese forces on Makin Island, 17–18 August, 1942. In the first operation of this type ever conducted by United States forces, Lieutenant Colonel Carlson personally directed his forces in the face of intense fire of enemy ground troops and aerial bombing barrage, inflicting great personnel and material damage on the enemy. In the withdrawal of his forces under adverse sea conditions, he displayed outstanding resourcefulness, initiative and resolute purpose in evacuating all wounded and disabled men. His high courage and excellent leadership throughout the engagement were in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service. [http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/1_Citations/03_wwii-nc/nc_06wwii_usmcC.html Navy Cross Awards to members of the U.S. Marines in World War II] , Home of Heroes]
SPOT AWARD, October 1942
Third Navy Cross: Long Patrol (November 4–December 4, 1942)
CARLSON, EVANS FORDYCE Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve) Commanding Officer, 2d Marine Raider Battalion Date of Action: November 4–December 4, 1942
;Citation:The Navy Cross is presented to Evans Fordyce Carlson, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism and courage as leader of the Second Marine Raider Battalion in action against enemy Japanese forces in the British Solomon Islands during the period from 4 November to 4 December, 1942. In the face of most difficult conditions of tropical weather and heavy growth, Lieutenant Colonel Carlson led his men in a determined and aggressive search for threatening hostile forces, overcoming all opposition and completing their mission with small losses to our men while taking heavy toll of the enemy. His personal valor and inspiring fortitude reflect great credit upon Lieutenant Colonel Carlson, his command and the United States Naval Service. [http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/1_Citations/03_wwii-nc/nc_06wwii_usmcC.html Navy Cross Awards to members of the U.S. Marines in World War II] , Home of Heroes]
SPOT AWARD, January 1943
*Italian Croix de Guerre
*Nicaragua Presidential Order of Merit
*Nicaraguan Medal of Distinction
Carlson wrote books about his third tour in China when he was attached to the Chinese 8th Route Army:
*"Twin Stars of China", Dodd, Mead & Company, 1940.
*"The Chinese army its organization and military efficiency", International Secretariat, Institute of Pacific Relations, 1939. (ASIN B00089LO5S)
*"Evans F. Carlson on China at War, 1937–1941", China and U.S. Publication. (ASIN B0006F13D2)
* [http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/HD/Historical/Whos_Who/Carlson_EF.htm Brigadier General Evans Fordyce Carlson, USMCR] , "Who's Who in Marine Corps History", History Division, United States Marine Corps. (URL accessed May 18, 2006)
* [http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/efcarlson.htm Evans F. Carlson, Brigadier General, United States Marine Corps] , Arlington National Cemetery profile.
*Blankfort, Michael. "The Big Yankee: The Life of Carlson of the Raiders," Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1947. (ASIN B0007HNZ8K)
*Haughey, David W. "Carlson's Raid on Makin Island", Feature, "Marine Corps Gazette" 85(8): 56–64, August 31, 2001.
*Merillat, Herbert C. (Captain, USMCR) "The Island: A History of the Marines On Guadalcanal", Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1944. (Details Carlson's Long Patrol on Guadalcanal)
*Quirk, Brian J. "Reflections of Carlson's Raiders", Commentary, "Marine Corps Gazette" 85(8):58–61, August 31, 2001.
last = Peatross
first = Oscar F.
coauthors = John P. McCarthy and John Clayborne (editors)
year = 1995
title = Bless 'em All: The Raider Marines of World War II
publisher = Review
id = ISBN 0965232506
*Smith, George W. "Carlson's Raid : The Daring Marine Assault on Makin," Presidio Press, 2001. (ISBN 0-425-19019-6)
*Young, Howard. "Carlson's Raiders on Makin, 17–18 August, 1942", "Marine Corps Gazette" 87(8): August 31, 2003.
last = Wiles
first = W. Emerson "Tripp"
year = 2007
title = Forgotten Raiders of '42: The Fate of the Marines Left Behind on Makin
publisher = Potomac Books
id = ISBN 978-1-59797-055-6
*Richardson-Moore, . [http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/marineslegacy.html "A Marine Legacy"] , Furman Magazine. Carol Carlson Loving on her grandfather. (PDF file, from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing China)
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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