QUANTICO, VA – An elderly man stood staring at a World War II museum display at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on April 12. The familiarity that glimmered in his eye was confirmed by his outstreched arm and pointed finger.
“That was my uniform, said Charles Pulford,” a former Edson Raider. “That (Browning automatic rifle) was a great weapon.”
For the next hour Pulford recalled some of the experiences he had while serving as an Edson Raider. The Edson Raiders were a group of Marines formed in 1942 by an order from President Franklin Roosevelt. General “Red Mike” Edson was given the command of the 1st battalion, therefore nicknaming the battalion, Edson’s Raiders.
“We lived in the swamps for days,” Pulford said. “No one knew we were there. And then we hit them (the Imperial Japanese Army), and we took our objective.”
Pulford and the men he served with were part of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion. They were created as special operations teams with the initial purpose of raiding Japanese controlled islands in the Pacific.
“It was bad times,” said Pulford. “We need to remember our history and the role the Marines played.”
Remembering their past is one of the reasons the Marines and their families held the 65th reunion of the Edson’s Raiders at Marine Corps Base Quantico from April 11- 14, 2013.
I come to these reunions to keep in contact with my brothers, said Jack Richardson, former Raider. The greatness of these people is evident.
The Raiders held several events during the weekend including: touring the National Museum of the Marine Corps, visiting Raider Hall at the Martial Arts Center of Excellence and attending an annual memorial service and banquet.
Some believe this could be the last reunion for the group, therefore making it a very special and cherished time.
“There’s only a handful of us left,” said Ted Gaskin, former Raider.
Regardless of the future of these men, their past lives on.
“All of you lost innocence, you know about the costs,” said Cmdr. Laura Bender, chaplain of the Wounded Warrior Regiment. “Well done, good and faithful servants. Your legacy of courage sets the example of what it means to be a Marine.”