Who was/is GI Joe?



Mitchell Paige GI Joe DollPerhaps you had GI Joe dolls-excuse me-action figures when you were a kid- or your brother did. Did you know that GI Joe was a real man-a Marine who was born in PA of parents who had come from Serbia?

GI Joe named Mitchell Paige a United States Marine was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in defeating an Imperial Japanese regiment all by himself after all of his fellow Marines had fallen in the fight/action in the Battle of Guadalcanal on October 26, 1942.

The rest of the page are his words and the links to some of the pages on the web. Go there and be inspired again by a Real American Hero.

“I am proud to be a citizen of a nation whose objective is peace and goodwill for all mankind. A nation which has contributed so much for the benefit of peoples all over the world. A nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. I am proud to be an American. I can never believe it is old fashioned to love our Flag and Country nor can I ever believe it is being square to stand in readiness behind our flag to defend those ideals for which it stands against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Mitch Paige, MOH

“Our history, with its heroes, is a truly necessary foundation for every American boy and girl,” Mitch wrote for fellow MOH recipient Pete Lemon’s 1997 book Beyond the Medal. “Without this knowledge, how can they understand why our nation became the great country that it is today?”

We hope through this modern means of sharing ideas, we can be of some service to others to inspire patriotism and an appreciation for what it means to be an American.

I will never forget listening to the exciting stories of American history in my school when I was a child. I learned all about the men who gave their lives to make this country free. We had to memorize all the great documents, such as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and John Adam’s magnificent, spine-tingling speech given on July 4, 1776, in Independence Hall in Philadelphia, when our country was born. I can recite the speech by memory to this day. Every American should and must be familiar with the trials and tribulations experienced by our great Founding Fathers as they established the very bedrock of the United States of America.

This history, with its heroes, is a truly necessary foundation for every American boy and girl. Without this knowledge, how can they understand why our nation became the great country that it is today?”  (Above in quotes from Mitchell Paige’s web/bog site)





“G.I. Joe & Lillie” – tribute in song from the Oakridge Boys (Thanks Lois and Pat for sending/sharing this—I’m going to give this one a tissue alert from the heart 🙂



8 Responses to “Who was/is GI Joe?”

  1. olotliny Says:

    Oct. 28, 2007
    Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

    VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: G.I. Joe was just a toy, wasn’t he?
    Hollywood now proposes that in a new live-action movie based on the G.I. Joe toy line, Joe’s — well, “G.I.” — identity needs to be replaced by membership in an “international force based in Brussels.” The IGN Entertainment news site reports Paramount is considering replacing our “real American hero” with “Action Man,” member of an “international operations team.”

    Paramount will simply turn Joe’s name into an acronym.

    The show biz newspaper Variety reports: “G.I. Joe is now a Brussels-based outfit that stands for Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity, an international co-ed force of operatives who use hi-tech equipment to battle Cobra, an evil organization headed by a double-crossing Scottish arms dealer.”

    Well, thank goodness the villain — no need to offend anyone by making our villains Arabs, Muslims, or foreign dictators of any stripe these days, though apparently Presbyterians who talk like Scottie on “Star Trek” are still OK — is a double-crossing arms dealer. Otherwise one might be tempted to conclude the geniuses at Paramount believe arms dealing itself is evil.

    (Just for the record, what did the quintessential American hero, Humphrey Bogart’s Rick Blaine in “Casablanca,” do before he opened his eponymous cafe? Yep: gun-runner.)

    According to reports in Variety and the aforementioned IGN, the producers explain international marketing would simply prove too difficult for a summer, 2009 film about a heroic U.S. soldier. Thus the need to “eliminate Joe’s connection to the U.S. military.”

    Well, who cares. G.I. Joe is just a toy, right? He was never real. Right?

    On Nov. 15, 2003, an 85-year-old retired Marine Corps colonel died of congestive heart failure at his home in La Quinta, Calif., southeast of Palm Springs. He was a combat veteran of World War II. His name was Mitchell Paige.

    It’s hard today to envision — or, for the dwindling few, to remember — what the world looked like on Oct. 25, 1942 — 65 years ago.

    The U.S. Navy was not the most powerful fighting force in the Pacific. Not by a long shot. So the Navy basically dumped a few thousand lonely American Marines on the beach at Guadalcanal and high-tailed it out of there.

    (You old swabbies can hold the letters. I’ve written elsewhere about the way Bull Halsey rolled the dice on the night of Nov. 13, 1942, violating the stern War College edict against committing capital ships in restricted waters and instead dispatching into the Slot his last two remaining fast battleships, the South Dakota and the Washington, escorted by the only four destroyers with enough fuel in their bunkers to get them there and back. By 11 p.m., with the fire control systems on the South Dakota malfunctioning, with the crews of those American destroyers cheering her on as they treaded water in an inky sea full of flaming wreckage, “At that moment Washington was the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet,” writes naval historian David Lippman. “If this one ship did not stop 14 Japanese ships right then and there, America might lose the war. …” At midnight precisely, facing those impossible odds, the battleship Washington opened up with her 16-inch guns. If you’re reading this in English, you should be able to figure out how she did.)

    But the Washington’s one-sided battle with the Kirishima was still weeks in the future. On Oct. 25, Mitchell Paige was back on the God-forsaken malarial jungle island of Guadalcanal.

    On Guadalcanal, the Marines struggled to complete an airfield that could threaten the Japanese route to Australia. Admiral Yamamoto knew how dangerous that was. Before long, relentless Japanese counterattacks had driven the supporting U.S. Navy from inshore waters. The Marines were on their own.

    As Platoon Sgt. Mitchell Paige and his 33 riflemen set about carefully emplacing their four water-cooled .30-caliber Brownings on that hillside, 65 years ago this week — manning their section of the thin khaki line that was expected to defend Henderson Field against the assault of the night of Oct. 25, 1942 — it’s unlikely anyone thought they were about to provide the definitive answer to that most desperate of questions: How many able-bodied U.S. Marines does it take to hold a hill against 2,000 armed and motivated attackers?

    But by the time the night was over, “The 29th (Japanese) Infantry Regiment has lost 553 killed or missing and 479 wounded among its 2,554 men,” historian Lippman reports. “The 16th (Japanese) Regiment’s losses are uncounted, but the 164th’s burial parties handled 975 Japanese bodies. … The American estimate of 2,200 Japanese dead is probably too low.”

    You’ve already figured out where the Japanese focused their attack, haven’t you? Among the 90 American dead and seriously wounded that night were all the men in Mitchell Paige’s platoon. Every one. As the night of endless attacks wore on, Paige moved up and down his line, pulling his dead and wounded comrades back into their foxholes and firing a few bursts from each of the four Brownings in turn, convincing the Japanese forces down the hill that the positions were still manned.

    The citation for Paige’s Medal of Honor picks up the tale: “When the enemy broke through the line directly in front of his position, P/Sgt. Paige, commanding a machine gun section with fearless determination, continued to direct the fire of his gunners until all his men were either killed or wounded. Alone, against the deadly hail of Japanese shells, he fought with his gun and when it was destroyed, took over another, moving from gun to gun, never ceasing his withering fire.”

    In the end, Sgt. Paige picked up the last of the 40-pound, belt-fed Brownings and did something for which the weapon was never designed. Sgt. Paige walked down the hill toward the place where he could hear the last Japanese survivors rallying to move around his flank, the belt-fed gun cradled under his arm, firing as he went.

    Coming up at dawn, battalion executive officer Major Odell M. Conoley was the first to discover how many able-bodied United States Marines it takes to hold a hill against two regiments of motivated, combat-hardened infantrymen who have never known defeat.

    On a hill where the bodies were piled like cordwood, Mitchell Paige alone sat upright behind his 30-caliber Browning, waiting to see what the dawn would bring.

    The hill had held, because on the hill remained the minimum number of able-bodied United States Marines necessary to hold the position.

    And that’s where the unstoppable wave of Japanese conquest finally crested, broke, and began to recede. On an unnamed jungle ridge on an insignificant island no one ever heard of, called Guadalcanal.

    When the Hasbro Toy Co. called some years back, asking permission to put the retired colonel’s face on some kid’s doll, Mitchell Paige thought they must be joking.

    But they weren’t. That’s his mug, on the little Marine they call “G.I. Joe.” At least, it has been up till now.

    Mitchell Paige’s only condition? That G.I. Joe must always remain a United States Marine.

    But don’t worry. Far more important for our new movies not to offend anyone in Cairo or Karachi or Paris or Palembang.

    After all, it’s only a toy. It doesn’t mean anything.

  2. olotliny Says:

    Profiles of valor: Marine Corps Staff Sgt Bogart

    Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Daniel Bogart, leader of the 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon serving in Iraq, had just completed the disposal of two IEDs while under enemy fire. A traveling Humvee suddenly detonated another IED mere feet away from Bogart and a fellow team member. The explosion left Bogart’s eardrums damaged, and his fellow Marine sustained shrapnel wounds. As medics attempted to assist the injured Marines, Bogart insisted they stay clear, knowing there was another live IED in the area. Bogart then located and dismantled the explosive device, evacuated his partner, and then came back to conduct post-blast analysis before finally allowing medics to treat him.

    Bogart is credited with disposing of over 11,000 pounds of unexploded ordnance during a seven-month tour in which his team conducted 170 missions. The father of two was recently awarded the Bronze Star with combat “V” for valor. “I wish they could give this award to my whole team,” Bogart said. “Nobody gets anything done on their own. When your team sets you up for success like this, you can’t go wrong.”

  3. olotliny Says:

    Habro Toys has 18 pages of GI Joe Real American products for sale-on above link.

  4. Rob Says:

    There are several key facts wrong in this article. The author is just passing along an urban myth.

    G.I. Joe was not based on a real person. The doll was inspired by a TV show called “The Lieutenant”.

    The toy was never just a marine. The toy line started with 4 dolls, a soldier, a pilot, a marine, and a navy seaman.

    Because sales were lagging, within 4 years of the toy’s introduction, the military theme was changed to that of an Adventurer. In the 70’s the adventurer line did better than the military toys of the 60’s.

    In the early 80’s the new smaller toys were given yet another storyline. This is the one that the movie will be based.

    It wasn’t until the late 90’s (decades after the toy had been introduced) that there was a special edition G.I. Joe based on Mitchell Paige.

    That said, Mitchell is a real hero, but that has nothing to do with G.I. Joe, or this movie.

    Really, 5 minutes of fact checking on google provided the real story.

  5. olotliny Says:

    Thanks Rob for the comment. You are right-you can find numerous references to GI Joe through Google and other search engines. In reading through a bunch, one will find the theme/use of GI Joe (Government Issue – is American and not international). “G.I. is a term describing a member of the US armed forces or an item of their equipment. It may be used as an adjective or as a noun.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GI_%28military%29

    In downplaying or ignoring the American identity of GJ Joe- the heritage, legacy and history of the real men who fought real battles is blurred, negated and perhaps lost to those who might just learn from a simple doll/action figure that history is not just a nondescript date or faceless name to be memorized for a test and forgotten -but rather was a real man who because of his character, principles, ethics and humanity changed the course of history/life as we know it.

    1945 movie: GI Joe: War correspondent Ernie Pyle joins Company C, 18th Infantry as this American army unit fights its way across North Africa in World War II. He comes to know the soldiers and finds much human interest material for his readers back in the States. Later, he catches up with the unit in Italy and accompanies it through the battles of San Vittorio and Cassino. He learns from its commanding officer, Lt. (later Capt.) Bill Walker of the loneliness of command, and from the individual G.I.’s of the human capacity to survive drudgery, discomfort, and the terror of combat.” Written by Jim Beaver {jumblejim@prodigy.net} http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038120/plotsummary
    “In 1964, the character G.I. Joe became a series of military-themed 12″ articulated action figures produced by the Hasbro toy company. The Hasbro prototypes were originally named “Rocky” (marine/soldier) “Skip” (sailor) and “Ace” (pilot), before the more universal name G.I. Joe was adopted. The initial product offering featured members of the four branches of the armed forces as follows; Action Soldier, Action Sailor, Action Pilot and Action Marine. The G.I. Joe name no longer referred to one specific character but to a toy line brand.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._I._Joe This was the same time that the company was selling the Action figures in England, France and Germany.
    http://www.tv.com/the-lieutenant/show/4532/summary.html “Status: Ended Premiered: September 14, 1963 Last Aired: April 18, 1964 “The Lieutenant” This series created by Star Trek’s Gene Roddenberry is set at Camp Pendleton and focuses on the men of the U.S. Marine Corps. Under the training of Lt. William T. Rice, a rifle platoon leader, the lives of recruits and Generals alike are explored in this hour-long drama. Status: Ended Premiered: September 14, 1963 Last Aired: April 18, 1964”
    Real people honored with G.I. Joe figures
    The G.I. Joe brand has made promotional action figures based on real-life persons, both military and civilian (such as sports and pro wrestling stars, presidents, and a war correspondent), that the company deems Real American Heroes, as the G.I. Joe slogan says. Among these are:
    • Buzz Aldrin
    • Roy Benavidez
    • SFC Charlie Bury – winner, in 1999, of the Hasbro sponsored “Real-Life Spirit of G.I. Joe” contest
    • Robert Crippen
    • Francis S. Currey
    • John R. Fox
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower
    • Bob Hope
    • President John F. Kennedy as skipper of the PT-109
    • Douglas MacArthur
    • Audie Murphy
    • Mitchell Paige[7]
    • George S. Patton
    • William “Refrigerator” Perry (for the “Real American Hero” line)
    • Francis J. Pierce
    • Colin Powell
    • Ernie Pyle
    • Theodore Roosevelt
    • “Sgt. Slaughter” Robert Remus (For the “Real American Hero” line, also appeared as character on the cartoon)
    • “Rowdy Roddy Piper” Roderick Toombs
    • Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa (prototype figure, never released. Cobra figure Big Boa was intended to be his rival.)
    • Robert E. Lee
    • George Washington
    • Ted Williams
    • Tuskegee Airmen; Fighter pilot/Bomber pilot
    In the above listing of “Real American Heroes”—all are American-except Roddy Piper-he is a Canadian Wrestler.

  6. olotliny Says:

    More Great American Heroes (although as you begin to read, talk to Veterans–there are so, so many who are heroes and legends.)

    John Lejeune (1867-1942)-served in the Corps over 40 years…
    http://www.lejeune.usmc.mil/mcb/index.asp http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/lejeune.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_A._Lejeune

    Chesty Puller (1898-1971) “We’re surrounded, that simplifies the problem”

    A.A. Vandegrift (1887-1973)

    Smedley Butler (1881-1940) “The Fighting Quaker”
    War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small ‘inside’ group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_is_a_Racket

    Daniel Daly (1873-1937) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Daly

    Carlos Hathcock “White Feather” (1942-1999)

    Ripley, John (USMC) 1939-2008

    In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to “hold and die” against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

    “I’ll never forget that order, ‘hold and die’,” Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

    “The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous,” Ripley said. “When you know you’re not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you’re going to save your butt.”

    Ripley crawled under the bridge under heavy gunfire, rigging 500 pounds of explosives that brought the twins spans down, said John Miller, a former Marine adviser in Vietnam and the author of “The Bridge at Dong Ha,” which details the battle.

    Miller said the North Vietnamese advance was slowed considerably by Ripley.

    “A lot of people think South Vietnam would have gone under in ’72 had he not stopped them,” Miller said.

    Ray Madonna, president of the U.S. Naval Academy’s 1962 graduating class, served in Vietnam as a Marine at the same time and said his classmate saved countless U.S. and South Vietnamese troops.

    “They would have been wrecked” if the tanks had crossed, Madonna said. He said Ripley also coordinated naval gunfire that stopped the tanks from crossing at a shallower point downstream.

    “He was a Marine’s Marine, respected, highly respected by enlisted men, by his peers and by his seniors,”

    During his two years of Vietnam service he participated in 26 major operations. In addition to numerous decorations for extensive combat experience at the rifle company and battalion levels, Col. Ripley was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in destroying the Dong Ha bridge during the 1972 North Vietnamese Easter Offensive (also known as the Nguyen Hue Offensive). That action is memorialized at the Naval Academy with a large diorama titled “Ripley at the Bridge.”

  7. olotliny Says:

    John W. Ripley
    Marine colonel, member of Ranger Hall of Fame, was known for the destruction of a bridge during the Vietnam War

    By Nick Madigan
    November 3, 2008

    John W. Ripley, a retired Marine Corps colonel and a renowned hero of the Vietnam War, was found dead at his home in Annapolis over the weekend, family members said. A cause of death for Ripley, who had undergone two liver transplants, had not been determined yesterday. He was 69.

    A Virginia native, Colonel Ripley was best known for a daring feat during the Easter Offensive of 1972, when he dangled for three hours under a bridge near the South Vietnamese city of Dong Ha to attach 500 pounds of explosives to the span, ultimately destroying it. His action, under fire while going back and forth for materials, is thought to have thwarted an onslaught by 20,000 enemy troops and was the subject of a book, The Bridge at Dong Ha, by John Grider Miller.

    Last week, after he failed to appear for a scheduled appearance at a Marine Corps event in New York, worried associates contacted one of his sons, Stephen B. Ripley, who went to his father’s house Friday to check on him. The younger Ripley concluded that his father – who lived alone near the gates of the Naval Academy, from which he graduated in 1962 – had died in his sleep Tuesday night.

    “His health was good for someone who’d had two liver transplants,” said Mr. Ripley, who also honored a family tradition by serving in the Marines and retired as a captain.

    When asked to describe a single quality that defined his father, Mr. Ripley said, “Tenacity.”

    “He was tenacious in his love for his country, his family and the Marine Corps,” said Mr. Ripley, who also lives in Annapolis. “He never did anything halfway.”

    Earlier this year, Colonel Ripley was inducted into the U.S. Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Ga., an honor that he added to his many decorations. They included the Navy Cross, the second-highest combat award a Marine can receive; the Silver Star; two awards of the Legion of Merit; two Bronze Stars; and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. His tale is required reading for every Naval Academy plebe. In Afghanistan, a forward operating base was named for him.

    “I admired John not only because of his obvious war heroism, but because of how he conducted himself after the war,” said Thomas L. Wilkerson, a retired major general in the Marines and chief executive of the U.S. Naval Institute. “John was the standard to which we all aspire. There wasn’t any baggage around John about how things should go. He walked his own talk.”

    Another Marine Corps colleague, Ray Madonna, who served with Colonel Ripley in Vietnam and retired as a lieutenant colonel, said he had known him for almost 50 years and had seen him Oct. 25 at the Navy football game against Southern Methodist University in Annapolis.

    “He was with a couple of his grandchildren,” Mr. Madonna said yesterday. “He looked fine. He was walking a couple of miles a day, building himself back after the surgeries. So it was a total shock.”

    In July 2002, after unsuccessful transplant surgery, Colonel Ripley’s life was saved by a second operation at Georgetown University Medical Center, in which he received a liver from a 16-year-old gunshot victim in Philadelphia. The surgery became possible only after a high-speed military mission transported the organ to Georgetown in a Marine Corps helicopter from the president’s fleet.

    Colonel Ripley’s liver had been damaged by a rare genetic disease as well as by a case of hepatitis B that he believes he contracted in Vietnam.

    Describing the Dong Ha incident in a June 2008 interview with Marine Corps Times, Colonel Ripley said he “had to swing like a trapeze artist in a circus.”

    “I used my teeth to crimp the detonator and thus pinch it into place on the fuse.” He said. “I crimped it with my teeth while the detonator was halfway down my throat.”

    Yesterday, on the Web site of World Defense Review, Maj. W. Thomas Smith Jr., a former Marine infantry squad leader who has researched Colonel Ripley’s life, wrote that after Colonel Ripley had set the charges and moved back to the friendly side of the river, the fuses detonated and Colonel Ripley “was literally blown through the air by the massive shock wave” he had engineered.

    “The next thing he remembered, he was lying on his back as huge pieces of the bridge were hurtling and cartwheeling across the sky above him,” Major Smith wrote.

    Major Smith quoted an interview that Colonel Ripley gave for Americans at War, published by the Naval Institute, in which he said: “The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous. When you know you’re not gonna make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you’re going to save your butt.”

    Colonel Ripley was shot in the side by a North Vietnamese soldier and during two tours of duty was pierced with so much shrapnel that doctors found metal fragments in his body as recently as 2001. After Vietnam, Colonel Ripley continued to serve, losing most of the pigment in his face from severe sunburns while stationed above the Arctic Circle.

    Funeral arrangements were incomplete yesterday.

    In addition to his son, Colonel Ripley is survived by his wife, Moline; three other children, Mary D. Ripley, Thomas H. Ripley and John M. Ripley; a sister, Susan Goodykoontz; and eight grandchildren.

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