Then there were 14.
That’s how many members of the 5307th Composite Unit Provisional — better known as “Merrill’s Marauders”— are still alive.
Two of the men who helped fight the Japanese in Burma — Bob Passanisi, 94, and Gilbert Howland, 96 — were recently in Washington, D.C., for a wreath-laying ceremony at the WWII Memorial to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Burma mission.
They were also in D.C. to champion legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to Merrill’s Marauders for their heroism and sacrifices that resulted in the U.S. seizing control of the Burmese capital of Myitkyina.
The Marauders — which was named after their commander, Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill — traversed more than 800 miles of Burmese jungle and engaged in multiple battles with enemy troops. By the time they were deactivated on Aug. 10, 1944, the unit had lost more than 1,000 soldiers to both combat injuries and disease.
On a similar note, Passanisi advised troops and veterans that determination and grit will allow them to “find the inner strength to be stronger and more durable than you can imagine.”
Spoken like a true Merrill’s Marauder.