frank merrill cause of death

Frank Dow Merrill (December 4, 1903 – December 11, 1955) was a US Army general best known for commanding Merrill’s Marauders, technically the 5307th Composite Unit (provisional), during World War II’s Burma Campaign. General Joseph Stilwell’s Northern Combat Area Command was in charge of Merrill’s Marauders. It was a special forces outfit trained to operate from bases deep behind Japanese lines, modeled after the Chindits’ long-range infiltration groups.

Early Career and Background

frank merrill cause of death

Merrill was born on December 4, 1903, in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, and raised in Amesbury, Massachusetts, where he graduated from Amesbury High School. In 1922, he enlisted in the US Army and was assigned to Company A, 11th Engineers, where he rose to the rank of staff sergeant.

In 1925, he was accepted into West Point and graduated in 1929. In 1932, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a B.S. in military engineering. Merrill was appointed Military Attaché in Tokyo in 1938, where he studied the Japanese language.

In 1941, he became a military intelligence officer on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff in the Philippines. Merrill was on a mission in Rangoon, Burma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and he stayed in Burma following the Japanese invasion.

Colonel Merrill was promoted to brigadier general in November 1943, just a month before his fortieth birthday, making him one of America’s youngest generals since the Civil War. The fact that he had only been a commissioned officer for 14 years was even more astonishing. At the age of 40, he was promoted to major general in September 1944.

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Merrill’s Marauders (Merrill’s Marauders)

frank merrill cause of death

General Merrill was assigned to lead a new volunteer United States Army special forces outfit in 1943, modeled after the British Long Range Jungle Penetration squads developed to harass Japanese forces in Burma (the Chindits). The 5307th Composite Unit was the official name of the unit in the United States Army (Provisional). (The term “provisional” refers to a unit that is constituted for a specific task or activity and then disbanded.) Following the 5307th’s performance on the fire ranges, visiting war correspondents christened the regiment Merrill’s Marauders. In February 1944, General Merrill commanded the training and deployment of the 5307th’s three battalions into Burma. [1]

The Marauders, who supported the X Force in Burma, advanced 750 miles through some of the world’s harshest jungle terrain, fought in five major engagements (Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, and Myitkyina), and engaged in combat with the Japanese Army on thirty-two occasions in less than five months of combat behind Japanese lines. They had crossed more jungle on their long-range patrols than any other U.S. Army regiment during the war, battling Japanese forces, hunger, and disease.

Following the War

Merrill served in the Philippines after the war ended. In early 1946, he was assigned to General Stilwell’s 6th Army headquarters in San Francisco. In May of that year, Merrill and Stilwell led two Marine platoons in the Battle of Alcatraz, which put down a convict rebellion at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.

Merrill’s rank was reduced to brigadier general on June 1, 1946, as a result of the Army’s postwar downsizing. On 30 June 1948, he retired from the Army with the permanent rank of colonel and was elevated to brigadier general on the retired list the following day.

Merrill became the New Hampshire Commissioner of Highways after retiring from the Army. He was elected President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in December 1955, but died at Fernandina Beach, Florida, two days later.

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Legacy

frank merrill cause of death

General Merrill was a member of the first class of inductees into the United States Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 1992.

Merrill’s Marauders are commemorated on the Everett Turnpike bridge that spans the Souhegan River in New Hampshire. The three-week mountain training component of the United States Army Ranger School is held at Camp Frank D. Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia.

In 1944, the United States Army awarded members of Merrill’s Marauders the United States Army Ranger Tab General Stilwell and Merrill.
Merrill suffered his first heart attack on March 29, and command was handed over to Colonel Charles N. Hunter, the executive officer at the time. The Marauders lost 272 men in their final mission against the Japanese base at Myitkyina, 955 were wounded, and 980 were evacuated due to illness and disease. There were just about 200 surviving members of the original Marauders when the town of Myitkyina was seized.

The 5307th was disbanded on August 10, 1944, a week after the town fell to the US and Chinese forces, with only 130 combat-effective officers and soldiers remaining (out of the original 2,997).

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Frank Down Is the Site of Merrill’s Death and Burial.

Merrill returned to New Hampshire with his wife and two sons to take over as Highway Commissioner for the state. He died of a heart attack on December 12, 1955, at the age of 52, while attending a convention of the American Association of State Highway Officials in New Orleans, where he had just been elected president.

errill is buried in West Point Cemetery, New York, alongside his wife Lucie, born Wright, and his son Frank Dow, who died at the age of 31 on September 20, 1963. 2nd section Nearby in Section 2, the graves of Lieutenant General, VIII Army, Robert Eichelberger, Navy Admiral, Commander Nord Pacific Fleet, Frank Fletcher, Navy Admiral, Commander VII Forces, William Fechteler, General Lieutenant and commander of the 80th Infantry Division, Horrace Logan “Mac” McBride, Lieutenant General, Commander 86th Infantry Division, nickname “Blackhawk Division” Ridgeley Gaither, Casualties of the division in 34 days of combat, killed 161 and wounded 161 This is also where he is buried. Commander of the 29th Infantry Division, Major General.