Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ron, this work you’re doing is so moving (Interviewing vets. for History)

We have a 95 year old veteran who is the last known survivor (of the 3000)  of Merrill's marauders from WW 11, he is hard of hearing but his memory is really good,  do you know of any project that might be interested in interviewing him?   I haven’t talked to his daughter about this but I’m sure she would be in favor.
Fascinating Interview for the Veteran History Project at the Library of Congress today
Ron Alexander I just had a great interview with the last Merrill Marauder - 95 yr. old Jim White at an assisted living center in Conway. A delightful old man who had terrible experiences including malaria in an almost unknown part of WW11 in Burma. It took him years to recover and captured my heart when he let me know that he built a sailboat to help recover and sailed around his homeport of Gloucester, where his Father was a Lobsterman!
Merrill’s Marauders (named after Frank Merrill) or Unit Galahad, officially named the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), was a United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit, which fought in the South-East Asian theatre of World War II, or China-Burma-India Theater (CBI). The unit became famous for its deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines, often engaging Japanese forces superior in number.
The unit was to have 700 animals that included 360 mules. There were to be as many more but the ship that was carrying them was torpedoed in the Arabian Sea. They were replaced by 360 Australian Waler horses that had originally been with the 112th Cavalry in New Caledonia who were deemed unfit for jungle warfare. They had traveled to India where they served with the Chinese Army before being assigned to the 5307th.[7]
In their final mission, the Marauders suffered 272 killed, 955 wounded, and 980 evacuated for illness and disease; some men later died from cerebral malaria, amoebic dysentery, and/or scrub typhus.[33] Somewhat ironically, Marauders evacuated from the front lines were given jungle hammocks with protective sandfly netting and rain covers in which to sleep, equipment which might have prevented various diseases and illnesses had they been issued earlier in the campaign.[34] The casualties included General Merrill himself, who had suffered a second heart attack before going down with malaria. He was replaced by his second-in-command, Colonel Charles N. Hunter, who later prepared a scathing report on General Stilwell's medical evacuation policies (eventually prompting an Army Inspector General investigation and congressional hearings).[35][36] By the time the town of Myitkyina was taken, only about 200 surviving members of the original Marauders were present. A week after Myitkyina fell, on 10 August 1944, the 5307th was disbanded with a final total of 130 combat-effective officers and men (out of the original 2,997). Of the 2,750 to enter Burma, only two were left alive who had never been hospitalized with wounds or major illness.[37] None of the horses and only 41 mules survived.[38]

Ron, this work you’re doing is so moving. Impossible for us to comprehend the day by day, minute by minute misery, anxiety, sick-unto-death reality that comes with seeing your brave fellow compatriots succumb to disease, mental disturbance, and death, and with knowing that any second could be your last. You pointed out today that one thing those soldiers had to do in order to survive was to put their subjective life aside. They had to step outside themselves in order to be alert to what was coming down the pike. Would that we all could manage to do that, without having to be soldiers! We’d be open to a much wider field, to nature in all its glory, and to the state of our fellow human beings.
Short reply: Not exactly, I stated that some soldiers get addicted to the adrenaline rush of having to be so present in combat that they desire to go back to battle to get that HIGH! So the dilemma is how can we get that same feeling of being fully alive without putting ourselves or others in danger? Interestingly, Nepo somewhat answers that in today's message in his AWAKENING book. Let us continue this dialogue soon, as I am very interested in some useful solutions to this age old societal dilemma of how returning soldiers can be of service instead of being a menace. Later, ron

No comments: