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"We were always called the forgotten theater and still are today." (Audio Interview, Part 1, 13:42)

   Philip B. Piazza
Collection image
Philip Piazza in uniform
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) (Merrill's Marauders)
Service Location: United States; Trinidad; India; China-Burma-India (CBI) Theater
Rank: Captain
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Philip Piazza passed up a college basketball scholarship to enlist in the Army—a year before the attack on Pearl Harbor. His first duty stations were in the Caribbean and Central America, where serving in the jungle prepped him for his ultimate mission in World War II, with Merrill's Marauders in the China-Burma-India Theater. Piazza points out that, in addition to enduring abominable living conditions for months, the Marauders were up against Japanese Imperial Marines, an elite fighting unit. Piazza suffered a wound that required he be evacuated from the field, a risky maneuver in the dense jungle. His mother received three telegrams about his status; in the first, he was reported killed in action, in the second he was only missing, and the third got it right. Piazza became president of the Merrill's Marauders Association, which held annual meetings for over 50 years after the war.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (5 clips)
»Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 
Download: audio(1) | 
Download: audio(2) | 
Download: audio(3) (75 min.)
»Photo Album  (1 photo)
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»China, Burma, India
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (5 items)
Formation of the Marauders; the difficulties of evacuation; dependence on the Air Corps for supplies and evacuation in small planes; the CBI as the forgotten theater. (07:24) Getting wounded in firefight; Japanese taking heavy casualties; their code of honor allowing men to be killed in suicidal charges; it was seven days before he was evacuated for treatment. (04:33) Battle at Walawbum; keeping their mules quiet to avoid giving away their position; trying to carry out their wounded under fire; the organization of the Marauders, based on British system. (08:20)
Trip back to CBI in mid-1990s; Dept. of Defense sent him and several Flying Tigers over; logging over 38,000 miles, wined and dined all the way, both in the air and on the ground. (04:11) Why Merrill's Marauders have the least number of awards for any outfit of its size; how their numbers diminished from not only wounds but also disease; losing 50 pounds while in country. (05:03) 

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  October 26, 2011
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