From: Chickamauga GA
The USMC Medal of Honor receipients for Guadalcanal were:
Kenneth D. Bailey, Major 1st Raider Bn.
John Basilone, Sgt. 1/7 (machinegunner)
Harold W. Bauer, Lt. Col. (pilot)
Anthony Casamento, Cpl. 1/5 (machinegunner)
Merritt Edson, Col., 1st Raider Bn
Joseph Foss, Captain (pilot)
Mitchell Paige, Platoon Sgt 2/7 (machinegunner)
John L. Smith, Major, (pilot)
Robert Galer, Major (pilot)
Alexander Vandegrift, Maj Gen, 1st Marine Division
Four additional Marines were awarded the Medal while flying from Guadalcanal after the campaign proper had ended.
Gregory Boynton, Major, (pilot)
Kenneth Walsh, 1st Lt. (pilot)
James E. Swett, 1st Lt. (pilot)
Jefferson DeBlanc, 1st Lt. (pilot)
I think that you will find that for this battle, being awarded the Medal of Honor had more to do with circumstances and the nature of the battle than it had to do with rank. It should be interesting to note that there were three officers and three enlisted ground troop, awardees. All the enlisted were machine gunners. There were also a number of Navy Crosses awarded to the same because most of the crucial early battles were defensive in nature. For example Al Schmid and Cpl LeRoy Diamond won theirs for the battle of Alligator Creek/Tenaru. Diamond was severely wounded and Schmid had been blinded by a grenade, but they stuck to their gun Schmid firing and clearing stoppages and Diamond directing his fire. In the morning there were 200+ dead Japanese in front of his gun and the line had held. All these machine gunners were at the right place at a crucial moment and saved the battle by their heroic actions. Of the three officers two received theirs for the 12-13 September battle for Edson's Ridge. When the line was breaking and the fate of the perimeter was at stake they both through personal example, and exposing themselves to enemy fire rallied troops, reorganized shattered units, prevented tactical withdrawls from turning into full scale retreats and routes. Repositioned troops, directed fire, Bailey with a serious head wound, led counterattacks, etc over at least a 10 hour fight. It's one thing to be fighting bravely in your hole, it's another to be moving hole to hole, reassuring and steadying the troops, directing and coordinating their fire. The situation was sufficiently grave that they could have reasonably withdrawn. They didn't. Vandegrift could have at anytime said, "we can't win" and could have asked for his division to be withdrawn. There was a time during the battle when it appeared that all was lost, the divisional records were being burned and orders were issued that whatever part of the division survived should break into small units, flee to the hills and conduct a guerilla campaign. The commanders courage and resolution never failed.
There were an inordinate number of flyer awards again due to the situation. Often outnumbered and short on supplies and aircraft, against superior enemy forces they fought day after day. Bauer is a good example, while ferrying planes to Guadalcanal, after a 600 mile trip, knowing he was alone and almost out of fuel, he spoted an enemy air attack on a friendly destroyer. He attacked an entire squadron by himself, shot down four and left a 5th enemy plane smoking.