Dear Editor,

I would like to make some corrections to Michael Hull’s otherwise excellent article, “Frank Merrill’s Jungle Trek” (July 2003). I feel that the contribution of Colonel Charles Hunter to the success of the Marauder operation is almost completely ignored. He and Colonel Francis Brink conducted the training of the unit prior to the arrival of General Merrill on January 4, 1944, and continued to do so with General Merrill’s input until entrained for Ledo, Assam, approximately two weeks later.

After the medical evacuation of General Merrill because of coronary thrombosis, Colonel Hunter successfully took over the relief of the 2nd Battalion surrounded on Nhpum Ga Hill. Later on in the campaign, he was field commander of the Myitkyina Task Force and captured the Japanese all-weather airfield at Myitkyina.

To the best of my knowledge, General Merrill was never within a hundred yards of the firing line. Still, his Regimental CP at LaGang Ga was under direct Japanese artillery fire and an enemy squad infiltrated to just yards from his CP before they were eliminated by some men of the 1st Battalion. However, his battalion commanders were constantly on the firing line.

Like all Marauders, I have enormous respect for General Merrill, but he never “was back with his men as they sloshed through ankle-deep mud toward the Kumon Range.” He was back at Naubum where he was convalescing from heart problems and controlling the march by radio. In fact, during the march over the Kumon Range, he landed in an L-5 at the OSS strip at Arang to confer with Colonel Hunter.

He never set up a headquarters on the Myitkyina strip; he arrived by liaison plane and departed a short time later. Perhaps the change of plan was precipitated by the onset of a third heart attack, which was in progress as he landed at General Stilwell’s headquarters at Shaduzup.

Phil Piazza, president of the Merrill’s Marauders Association, is correct when he says, “The men actually idolized him.” Marauders say that he “packed his own pack and most times cooked his own food.” Perhaps this story of the late Dave Hurwitt (Sgt. Radio Section, Orange Combat Team) is illustrative of the general: One of his section, a guy from Brooklyn, asked Dave, “Where the—expletive—are we going?” Dave saw Merrill and Hunter coming up the trail behind them and said, “Why don’t you ask them?” As Merrill and Hunter came abreast of the radio section, “taking 10,” the Brooklyn guy who was sitting on the ground asked Merrill, “Where the—expletive—are we going?” While Colonel Hunter looked on with disbelief, General Merrill squatted down, opened his map case, and gave the guy an update on the day’s situation.


David L. Quaid
Historian Emeritus
Merrill’s Marauders’ Association
East Falmouth, Massachusetts

Dear WW II History:

I would like to greatly commend Milton J. Elliott III for his amazing insight concerning the 390th Bomb Group mission to the Leuna Synthetic Oil Works at Merseberg, Germany, on November 30, 1944, in the September 2003 issue. I have been an avid reader of your magazine since its inception, and I must say that no article has gathered the full immersion of the reader more than this one. Elliott’s style and timeline put the reader in the cockpit along with Hugh Hunter Hardwicke, Jr., and Flick Flickema. I felt as if I was a part of the Uninvited’s crew, going through all of the preflight checks, in-flight stress, and right up to the release of the bomb load. After finishing the article, I even felt a sense of relief, perhaps complementary (in some strange way) to the same sense of relief that B-17 crews felt after a long and successful mission.

I know that it is difficult for those who have not served in the armed forces to truly understand the dedication and sacrifice of our men and women, but “Risky Run Over Merseberg” brings your readers one step closer to that understanding. I look forward to future contributions from Mr. Elliott, and, once again, my highest praise for his captivating story.


Charles J. Sedey
Alta Loma, California

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