Henry Mucci

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Henry Andrews Mucci
Henry mucci.jpg
Colonel Henry Mucci
Born (1909-03-04)March 4, 1909
Bridgeport, Connecticut
Died April 20, 1997(1997-04-20) (aged 86)
Melbourne, Florida
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Years of service 1936–1946
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Commands held 6th Ranger Battalion
Battles/wars

World War II

Awards Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star (2)
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal
Presidential Unit Citation

Henry Andrews Mucci (March 4, 1909 – April 20, 1997) was a colonel in the United States Army Rangers. In January 1945, during World War II, he led a force of 121 Army Rangers on a mission which rescued 513 survivors of the Bataan Death March from Cabanatuan Prison Camp, despite being heavily outnumbered. It is widely considered the largest and most successful rescue mission in the history of the United States military.

Youth[edit]

Mucci was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to parents who had emigrated from Campobasso, Italy. Today, a section of the United States Embassy in Italy is named in Mucci's honor. Henry came from a large family where many of his brothers also served in the Army and Navy during the Second World War, while his sisters worked at the VFW in America and made bazookas in factories. He enrolled at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, and graduated 246th in his class in May 1936. At West Point he was on the equestrian team, due to his early years growing up with horses.

Military Service[edit]

World War II[edit]

In February 1943, the US Sixth Army put Mucci in charge of the 98th Field Artillery Battalion, previously a mule-drawn pack artillery unit. Mucci announced that the Battalion was being converted from Field Artillery to Rangers, downsized the battalion from 1,000 men to 500, and held a training camp in New Guinea where he utilized commando type training techniques for over a year. Thus, Mucci created a new regiment of Army Rangers. Mucci survived the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. During the liberation of the Philippines, General Walter Kreuger and one of his top men, Col. Horton White, chose Mucci to head the liberation of the Cabanatuan Prison Camp due to both the difficulty and the peculiar needs of such a mission.

In January 1945, Mucci led 128 Army Rangers in liberating the Cabanatuan Prison Camp with the loss of only 2 men killed in action. Mucci refused to sit back on the mission and joined his soldiers on the ground in combat, an unusual position for a colonel. The raid was supported by some 250 Filipino guerrillas, many of whom were unarmed, who guided the Rangers through Japanese held territory and held off Japanese reinforcements while the American Rangers freed the POWs.

For Mucci's actions on the raid he was personally awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by General Douglas MacArthur. Originally, Mucci was to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, this award being given by the president. However, his close friendship with General MacArthur made him accept the award below, because he wanted the honor of his friend giving him the Distinguished Service Cross.[citation needed]

Later years[edit]

When Mucci returned home he was treated as a national hero in his home town of Bridgeport. In 1947, he married Marion Fountain, with whom he had three children. He ran for Congress in 1946 but was defeated. He became the President of Bridgeport Lincoln Mercury as well as becoming an oil representative in India. In November 1974, the portion of Route 25 between Bridgeport and Newtown was named the Col. Henry A. Mucci Highway.[1] He died at 88 in Melbourne, Florida, on April 20, 1997, as the result of a stroke. The stroke was a complication of a fractured hip sustained at age 86, while swimming in rough surf near his home. [source Hampton Sides book Ghost Soldiers; p332]

The raid on Cabanatuan was depicted in the 2005 film The Great Raid, which featured actor Benjamin Bratt as Mucci, Bratt bearing a remarkable facial resemblance to Mucci.

Military decorations and awards[edit]

Henry Mucci received the following military awards:

V
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Arrowhead
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Distinguished Service Cross Silver Star
2nd Row Legion of Merit Soldier's Medal Bronze Star Medal
with "V" device
and oak leaf cluster
3rd Row Purple Heart Army Commendation Medal American Defense Service Medal
with "Base" clasp
4th Row American Campaign Medal Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
with four campaign stars
and arrowhead device
World War II Victory Medal
5th Row Army of Occupation Medal Distinguished Service Order (UK) Philippine Liberation Medal
with two stars

Notes[edit]

External links[edit]