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Name: Leroy Elmer Brown Rank: Private First Class Service Number: 31019775 Service: 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) / Merrill’s Marauders, US Army Awards: Bronze Star, Purple Heart Date of Birth: May 26, 1919 Place of Birth: Revere, Suffolk County, Massachusetts Date of Enlistment: March 6, 1941 Place of Enlistment: Boston, Massachusetts Age at Enlistment: 21 Address at Enlistment: Revere, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts Marital Status: Single Occupation: Attendant at filling [gas] station Date of Death: April 1, 1944 Age: 24 Cemetery: Pine Grove Cemetery, Lynn, Massachusetts Grave: Hickory Avenue, Lot 105, Grave 2 Leroy Elmer Brown was the son of Edward Reed Brown (born 1887-1923), of Kings County, Nova Scotia, and Annie Elizabeth Cameron (1876-1975), born in Goshen, Guysborough Co., NS. His father worked as a shoe cutter in a shoe factory (1920 in the United States). Leroy’s brother James Franklin Brown served in the US Navy in 1945, and his brother Edward G. Brown served with the Seabees, the Naval Construction Battalions (or CB’s) of the Naval Construction Force, in the US Navy in WWII as well. Leroy completed his US Draft registration on October 16, 1940, working for H.V. Dunifer as a gas station attendant at 1030 Broadway in Revere. After enlisting in 1941, Leroy was assigned to the US Army’s 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), codename as Unit Galahad, or Merrill’s Marauders (named after Frank Merrill). They were a long range penetration special operations jungle warfare group, which became known for its deep-penetration missions behind Japanese lines, often engaging Japanese forces superior in number. From February to May 1944, the operations of the Marauders were closely coordinated with those of the Chinese 22d and 38th Divisions in a drive to recover northern Burma and clear the way for the construction of the Ledo Road, which was to link the Indian railhead at Ledo with the old Burma Road to China; a vital supply route. Beginning in March 1944, the Japanese had attempted to invade India at Imphal and Kohima, but these were major defeat for the Japanese. Informed by the British that the situation in Imphal, India was under control, Stilwell wanted to launch a final assault to capture the Japanese airfield at Myitkyina, Burma. Always guarded against the potential for interference by the British, General Stilwell did not coordinate his plans with Admiral Mountbatten, instead transmitting separate orders to his Chinese forces and the Marauders. The men took a brief rest at Shikau Gau, a jungle village clearing where they bartered with the native inhabitants for fresh eggs and chickens with an issue of 10-in-one and C rations. The Marauders also took the opportunity to sunbathe in an attempt to control the onset of various fungal skin diseases. Now down to a little over 2,200 officers and men, the 5307th began a series of battles on the march to Myitkyina. In April, the Marauders were ordered by General Stilwell to take up a blocking position at Nhpum Ga and hold it against Japanese attacks, a conventional defensive action for which the unit had not been equipped. At times surrounded, the Marauders coordinated their own battalions in mutual support to break the siege after a series of fierce assaults by Japanese forces. At Nhpum Ga, the Marauders killed 400 Japanese soldiers, while suffering 57 killed in action, 302 wounded, and 379 incapacitated due to illness and exhaustion. Of the unit's 200 mules, 75 were killed by artillery and mortar fire. A concurrent outbreak of amoebic dysentery (contracted after linking up with Chinese forces) further reduced their effective strength. Although the Marauders had previously avoided losses from this deadly disease (in part by use of halazone tablets and strict field sanitation procedures), their encampment with Chinese infantry, who used the rivers as latrines, proved their undoing (the Chinese troops, who always boiled their drinking water, were not seriously affected). Private First Class Leroy Elmer Brown was killed in action in Nhpum Ga in Kamaing, Kachin, Burma, on April 1, 1944. Leroy E. Brown was interred at the Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Leroy Elmer Brown
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Merrill's Marauders Congressional Gold Medal (reverse)