|Henry Andrews Mucci|
Colonel Henry Mucci
March 4, 1909|
|Died||April 20, 1997
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1936–1946|
|Commands held||6th Ranger Battalion|
|Awards||Distinguished Service Cross|
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.
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.
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.
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. 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]
Awards and decorations
|1st Row||Distinguished Service Cross||Silver Star|
|2nd Row||Legion of Merit||Soldier's Medal||Bronze Star Medal w/ Oak Leaf Cluster||Purple Heart|
|3rd Row||Army Commendation Medal||American Defense Service Medal w/ Base clasp||American Campaign Medal||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal w/ four service stars and Arrowhead device|
|4th Row||World War II Victory Medal||Army of Occupation Medal||Distinguished Service Order (UK)||Philippine Liberation Medal w/ two stars|