The Man Who Commanded America’s First Special Forces
On August 17, 1942, two U.S. submarines secretly delivered a small force from the newly formed 2nd Marine Raider Battalion to Japanese-occupied Makin Island. News of the success of this special operation took hold of the American imagination and provided a much needed boost to morale. The battalion's leader was Evans Carlson, a forty-six-year old career marine officer. Carlson had proposed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt the creation of a small elite raider force similar to the British Commandos. Carlson's raiders went on to conduct a lengthy operation behind enemy lines in Guadalcanal, contributing to the American victory. After months of exertion, Carlson fell ill and returned stateside. Despite his notoriety and willingness to return to the front, this decorated officer would never command again.
In Evans Carlson, Marine Raider: The Man Who Commanded America's First Special Forces, acclaimed history writer Duane Schultz presents a fascinating and absorbing portrait of this complex officer. When he was just seventeen, the tall, underage teenager bluffed his way into the army. Carlson began his eventful military career against Pancho Villa, and continued through World War I and the unrest in Central America and in China. Despite his personal bravery, loyalty, and long service, Schultz reveals that his active career was cut short by the Marine command who were envious of the attention he and his men received, and—foreshadowing the paranoia of the McCarthy era—he was rumored to be a communist. His raiders remained staunchly loyal to their former commander, and when he died in 1947, they ensured he would be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Famed army and political cartoonist Bill Mauldin said, "There were only two brass hats whom ordinary GIs respected: Dwight Eisenhower and Evans Carlson." This is Carlson's story.
Author(s): Duane Schultz
First Publishment Date: 19 March 2018