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First Name: Frank

Last Name: Merrill

Birthplace: Hopkinton, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: Dow

Date of Birth: 04 December 1903

Date of Death: 11 December 1955

Rank: Major General

Years Served: 1922 - 1948
Frank Dow Merrill

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1929

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Frank Dow Merrill
Major General, U.S. Army

Frank Dow Merrill was born on 4 December 1903 in Hopkinton, MA.

Merrill lived with his family in Amesbury, MA, and graduated from Amesbury High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1922 and earned the rank of Sergeant before attending the U.S. Military Academy where he graduated with the Class of 1929. Merrill also earned a B.S. in Military Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1932.

In 1938, Merrill became the Military Attaché in Tokyo where he studied the Japanese language. He joined General Douglas MacArthur's staff in the Philippines in 1941 as a Military Intelligence Officer. Merrill was on a mission in Rangoon, Burma at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack and remained in Burma after the Japanese invasion. In 1942, Colonel Merrill was promoted to Brigadier General.

Merrill's Marauders

In 1943, Brigadier General Merrill was appointed to command a new volunteer U.S. Army special forces unit patterned after the Long Range Jungle Penetration groups formed by the British to harass Japanese forces in Burma (the Chindits). The U.S. Army's official name for the unit was the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). (Provisional means the unit is formed for a special mission or operation and will be disbanded afterwards.) Visiting war correspondents, after viewing the 5307th's performance on the firing ranges, promptly dubbed the unit Merrill's Marauders. Merrill oversaw the training and deployment of the three battalions of the 5307th into Burma in February 1944. Merrill's Marauders came under General Joseph Stilwell's Northern Combat Area Command.

In slightly more than five months of combat behind Japanese lines in Burma, the Marauders, who supported the X Force, advanced 750 miles through some of the harshest jungle terrain in the world, fought in 5 major engagements (Walawbum, Shaduzup, Inkangahtawng, Nhpum Ga, and Myitkyina) and engaged in combat with the Japanese Army on thirty-two separate occasions. Battling Japanese soldiers, hunger, and disease, they had traversed more jungle on their long-range patrols than any other U.S. Army unit of the war.

On 29 March 1944, Merrill suffered his first heart attack and command returned to then Executive Officer, Colonel Charles N. Hunter. In their final mission against the Japanese base at Myitkyina, the Marauders suffered 272 killed, 955 wounded, and 980 evacuated for illness and disease. The casualties included Merrill himself, who had refused early evacuation and suffered a second heart attack before going down with malaria. By the time the town of Myitkyina was taken, only about 200 surviving members of the original Marauders were present.

On 10 August 1944, a week after the town's fall to U.S. and Chinese forces, the 5307th was disbanded with a final total of only 130 combat-effective officers and men (out of the original 2,997).

Merrill served as Chief-of-Staff of the 10th U.S. Army in the invasion of Okinawa.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
American Defense Service Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge


After World War II and service in the post war Philippines, Merrill became the New Hampshire Commissioner of Highways. He was elected President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials but died two days later.

The Everett Turnpike bridge over New Hampshire's Souhegan River was a favorite of Merrill's and is dedicated to Merrill's Marauders.

Camp Frank D. Merrill near Dahlonega, GA, is home to the three-week mountain training phase of the U.S. Army Ranger School.

In Media

Merrill was played by actor Jeff Chandler in the 1962 Merrill's Marauders (film).

Death and Burial

Major General Frank Dow Merrill died on 11 December 1955 in Fernandina Beach, FL. He is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Post Cemetery in West Point, NY.

Honoree ID: 2856   Created by: MHOH




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