News Releases

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Isakson, Markey Introduce Legislation to Honor WWII Special Forces

Would award Congressional Gold Medal to Merrill's Marauders

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., recently introduced the bipartisan Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act, S.2114, to recognize the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) with the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, for their heroic service during World War II.

On Sept. 18, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for an American Long Range Penetration Special Operations Jungle Warfare Unit. Nearly 3,000 soldiers serving stateside and around the world volunteered as special operations soldiers. Named “Merrill’s Marauders” after the unit’s first commander, Brigadier General Frank Merrill, the unit fought Japanese forces deep in the mountains and forests of Burma during World War II to secure victory for the United States in Southeast Asia.

“Merrill’s Marauders were some of the greatest members of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ and I am proud to offer this legislation to honor their bravery and sacrifice,” said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “These fearless warriors fought some of the most intense battles under harrowing conditions, and I am thankful that the legacy of their unit lives on today with the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., and other installations Army-wide.” 

“Brigadier General Frank Merrill was proof that Massachusetts isn’t just the Bay State, we are the Brave State,” said U.S. Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. “Merrill’s Marauders embodied the Greatest Generation in their courage and sacrifice. They served our nation at the most historic of moments, and I am proud to join Senator Isakson in legislation to honor them with the Congressional Medal of Honor.”  

The 75th Ranger Regiment, which is headquartered at Fort Benning, Ga., traces its history to Merrill’s Marauders. The 75th Ranger Regiment, better known as “Army Rangers,” is a special operations force, specializing in direct action, airfield seizure, and special reconnaissance operations. The regiment falls under the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The 1st Ranger Battalion is stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., the 2nd Ranger Battalion is stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord, Wash., and the 3rd Ranger Battalion is stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. Additionally, 5th Ranger Training Battalion, which conducts Mountain Phase of Ranger School, is located at Camp Merrill in Dahlonega, Ga.

In addition to Markey, the Merrill’s Marauders Congressional Gold Medal Act was cosponsored by Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., Al Franken, D-Minn., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, John Kennedy, R-La., and Mike Rounds, R-S.D.

Click here to view the text of the legislation.

Additional background on Merrill’s Marauders:

After months of training in the Himalayan Mountains, Merrill’s Marauders began combat operations in Feb. 1944, and in just over five months, marched more than 1,000 miles, participated in five major battles and fought the Japanese army 32 times. At the time the unit was relieved from duty, there were only 130 original members left who were fit to fight, and only two had not been seriously injured or grievously ill throughout the campaign. The unit received the Presidential Unit Citation, and every member of Merrill’s Marauders received the Bronze Star.

 

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