Spearhead: A Complete History of Merrill's Marauder Rangers
Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, Ritpong, Myitkyina. Although the names of these battles are not as familiar to the public as Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, the name of the legendary American volunteer regiment that fought in them echoes throughout modern military history. Thrown into combat in the Burmese jungle in February 1944 at the request of the British government, Merrill's Marauders was the first American infantry regiment to fight on the Asian continent since the Boxer Rebellion. Assembled in 1943 as the 5037th Composite Unit (Provisional), the three thousand infantryman who answered FDR's call for volunteers for a secret, "dangerous and hazardous mission" found themselves in India training for jungle combat. Created to spearhead undertrained (and American-led) Chinese troops in Burma and reopen the land route to China, the 5037th was expected by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to take 85 percent casualties and be disbanded within three months. As it turned out, the Marauders existed for eleven months, operating successfully in hostile territory, pioneering long-range military activities in jungle and mountainous regions, and completing one of the most productive -- and perilous -- military campaigns in American history.
Despite its considerable achievements under the most difficult conditions, there has never been a complete history of the regiment until now. In Spearhead, James E. T. Hopkins -- a field surgeon with the Marauders' Third Battalion -- in collaboration with John M. Jones, provides a detailed history of the highly decorated unit, from the circumstances under which the 5037th was formed and its arduous training to the many battles in which the Marauders distinguished themselves to the unit's deactivation in July 1945.
Drawing on unpublished logs, personal diaries, and histories kept by members of the regiment, Hopkins provides a personal story of combat in an environment that was nearly as deadly as the enemy. As a medical officer, he witnessed the horrors of jungle combat, the resolute heroism of the volunteers who fought, and the genuine respect that men and officers in the regiment had for one another. He also chronicles the remarkable efforts of the unit's rear echelon to keep the combatants supplied. With Spearhead, Hopkins reveals the real story behind a chapter in the history of the Second World War too often officially forgotten or clouded by myth. Spearhead offers a heartfelt tribute to the men who served as Merrill's Marauders -- and a comprehensive account of their deeds in the treacherous jungles of Burma fifty years ago.