WASHINGTON, D.C.—today, President Donald J. Trump signed into law “S. 743, the “Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act,” which provides for the award of a Congressional gold medal to the soldiers of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), commonly known as “Merrill’s Marauders”, in recognition of their bravery and outstanding service in the jungles of Burma during World War II;
S. 785, the “Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019,” which amends a number of VA authorities related to helping veterans transition from military to civilian life; suicide prevention; mental health care research and oversight; mental health care staffing; and health care for women veterans; and
S. 2661, the “National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020,” which designates 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number of the purpose of the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system.”
“If they can walk and carry a gun,” Major General Joseph Stillwell presciently told Brigadier General Frank Merrill in 1943, “they can fight!”
After being run out of the Burmese jungle by the Japanese in May of 1942, Stillwell had, according to one war correspondent, appeared “like the wrath of God and cursing like a fallen angel.”
The general didn’t mince his words either, telling reporters that the joint expedition between a small contingent of American, British, and Chinese troops “got a hell of a beating. We got run out of Burma and it is humiliating as hell. I think we ought to find out what caused it, go back, and retake it.”
Dubbed Merrill’s Marauders after their commander, the men were tasked with a “dangerous and hazardous mission” behind Japanese lines in Burma, where the fall of the country’s capital of Rangoon had severely threatened the Allied supply line to China.
The Marauders were tasked with cutting off Japanese communications and supply lines and pushing enemy forces north out of the town of Myitkyina, the only city with an all-weather airstrip in Northern Burma.
Although operational for only a few months, Merrill’s Marauders gained a fierce reputation for hard fighting and tenacity as the first American infantry force to see ground action in Asia.
Source: White House Press Office and Military News Contributed to this Article