There are nine remaining veterans of Merrill’s Marauders, that legendary and nearly mythic unit of world War II that fought for 5 months in the jungles of Burma, cut-off and always against superior enemy forces. It is far overdue to recognize them for their valor.
House Bill HR-906 and Senate bill S. 743 will award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Merrill’s Marauders. No unit of any war is more deserving of the Marauders, who changed the thinking at that time of what was militarily and humanly possible. What they experienced defines “resilience” and “fortitude.”
The 5307th Provisional Unit (Composite) infiltrated into Burma in February of 1944 with 2,750 men. In August of 1944, after their final battle, at a place called Myitkyina, 130 were left standing and ready for duty. Only two of those men had never been injured or seriously ill.
Operation Galahad lasted five months, of nearly constant combat. Merrill’s Marauders advanced 750 miles (1,210 km) through harsh jungle terrain, fought five major engagements, always against superior Japanese forces, and fought in thirty-two separate engagements. Besides the Japanese, they faced hunger, disease, fever, dehydration, dysentery, tigers, snakes and lack of supplies and ammunition, just to name a few. They covered more jungle terrain in their “deep-penetration” missions than any other Allied formation during that war.
The Marauders were not officially a Ranger unit. They were not part of the six U.S. Army Ranger battalions authorized and activated by the Army in 1942. They were not Ranger trained or equipped. They were organized to be a “long-range penetration” unit, and thus had no artillery or heavy weapons. They were at the cutting edge of modern guerrilla and special operations. After the war, their operations were recognized to be so “Ranger-like” that their operations were added to Army Ranger doctrine and tradition. Four Marauders are in the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame.
Rep. Peter King and Sen. Johnny Isakson are the leads in sponsoring this bill in the House and Senate, and they need more sponsors on board to push the bill forward more swiftly. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest expression of national appreciation.
The Greatest Generation, those U.S. citizens who fought for our freedom in World War II, are still to this day held up as paragons of patriotism and military character and excellence. The men of Merrill’s Marauders are amongst the top tier of that generation.
HR-906 and S. 743 require more congressional sponsors in order to move forward. As much as any other unit in that war, Merrill’s Marauders went above and beyond the call of duty. Their sacrifices and legacies are at risk of being forgotten by Americans today. This is an opportunity to share the story of this crucial group of men and chapter of United States history, and for all of us to unify and be part of this telling and honor.
Call. Email. Now.
Every Ranger, paratrooper, soldier, military member, former or active, and citizen needs to contact their congressman and senators and urge them to contact Rep. Peter King and Sen. Johnny Isakson and urge them to swiftly pass H.R. 906 and S. 743. It is our duty, all of us, to support this bill and recognize these legendary warriors and patriots.
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