Below are plenty of useful Merrill’s Marauders facts to arm yourselves with before discussing the Congressional Gold Medal Campaign with your Congressman!
Merrill’s Marauders, was a World War 2 special unit designated as the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional. The 5307th Composite Unit Provisional (CUP) was a combat unit of less than 3,000 men from the 50 states. Everyone a volunteer, for what is now known to have been a long range penetration behind enemy lines suicide mission. These patriotic volunteers that answered President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s worldwide call for a dangerous and hazardous mission didn’t know what, or where, only that the expected casualty rate was 85% or more and their Country needed them.
• They operated behind enemy lines with only what they could carry on their backs or mules.
• They hacked their way through more than 700 miles of the World’s most difficult jungles.
• They repeatedly attacked the enemy’s infrastructure while spearheading the Chinese advance.
• Severely outnumbered, they out fought the best of the enemy’s 18th Imperial Marines.
• In the five months, they fought five majors battles and thirty minor ones.
• In monsoon rain they cut their way over the impossible 6,000 ft. Kumon Range to Myitkyina.
• They captured the only all-weather airfield in Northern Burma, at Myitkyina.
• Endured for five months well beyond the known level of human jungle endurance.
• No other unit in annals of military history ever fought so long under such adverse conditions.
• With only what they could carry on their backs or mules and resupplied supplied by airdrops.
• Living on inadequate emergency ration they continually fought malnutrition and exhaustion.
• Suffering from fevers, diarrhea, jungle rot, fungus, leach infections, was the norm.
• They cleared the enemy out of Northern Burma and enabled a land route to China.
• Through perseverance, tenacity, and comradery, they unexpectedly managed to survived.
• After a thorough war record search, the 75th Rangers selected the 5307th CUP for their heritage.
• 25 Marauders, for their outstanding heroic action were inducted into the Ranger Hall Of Fame.
5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) a.k.a. Merrill’s Marauders
The 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) was born from the August 1943 Quebec Conference, where President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and other Allied leaders decided that an American Long Range Penetration Mission behind the Japanese lines in Burma was needed to destroy enemy supply and communications lines and to disrupt the Japanese forces.
President Roosevelt issued a Presidential call for volunteers for “A Dangerous and Hazardous Mission”. Approximately 3,000 brave American soldiers responded to the call. The Unit was officially designated as the “5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)”, code name “GALAHAD”, later known as “MERRILL’S MARAUDERS” after their leader, Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill. The campaign began February 24, 1944, and the Unit was disbanded August 10, 1944.
Although faced with many difficulties, Merrill’s Marauders were successful in completing their mission and paved the way for Allied forces to create supply lines, sustain Chinese forces, and maintain Allied control of the region.
Presidential Unit Citation
Rare distinction of every member awarded the Bronze Star
6 Distinguished Service Crosses
4 Legions of Merit
44 Silver Star Medals
25 inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame (More than any other Ranger Unit)
1st American combat troops to fight the Japanese on the ground in Asia
1st American Long-Range Penetration Group
All-volunteer unit that was severely outnumbered by a veteran Japanese army
Had the second most uninterrupted jungle fighting service of any American unit
Fought 5 major battles (Walawbum, Shadazup, Inkangahtawng , Nphum Ga, Myitkyina) and 30 minor battles
In 2014, 49 States passed a proclamation to make August 10th Merrill’s Marauders Day
Considered expendable since no plan existed to get them out of Burma; War Department expected 85% casualties
Operated behind enemy lines with only what they could carry on their backs or mules; resupplied by airdrops
Repeatedly attacked the enemy’s infrastructure while spearheading the Chinese advance
Walked over 1,000 miles through the Himalayan Mountains and the dense jungles of Burma
Suffering from diseases (e.g., malaria, dysentery, typhus) and other jungle maladies (e.g., leaches, fungus, infections), in addition to fighting against the Japanese, there were less than 300 of the remaining 1,310 Marauders, who were considered well enough to fight for the Myitkyina airstrip
Reinforcements (a.k.a. New Galahad) arrived and Myitkyina airfield and village were captured
Living on inadequate emergency rations, they continually fought malnutrition and exhaustion
Only 40 to 50 Marauders are still living and today the 75th Ranger Regiment honor their legacy by wearing the Marauder patch as their crest.
“We were certainly fulfilling our mission, that being to harass, distract, and block the enemy. … General Tanaka and his Imperial 18th Japanese Division had been gleefully denied any success in their attempts to decimate the now-famous Merrill’s Marauders”, from “The Fightin’ Preacher”, by Colonel Logan E. Weston, Marauder.