Henry Mucci (March 4, 1909 – July 20, 1997) was an Army Ranger colonel renowned for leading a January 1945 raid that freed Allied prisoners of war from Cabanatuan prison camp in Philippines. This raid is widely regarded as one of the most successful campaigns of World War II.
Early Life and Education
Henry Mucci was a native of Bridgeport Connecticut who graduated from West Point Military Academy. While serving during World War II he gained notoriety for leading an attack into Cabanatuan prison camp in the Philippines; such was its success that General Douglas MacArthur awarded Mucci and his team with a Distinguished Service Cross for this feat.
Mucci recruited men for his team from farms and ranches across middle America; big, strong men who loved horses who often hiked mountains carrying Howitzers on pack mules. Mucci trained this force into an elite jungle fighting unit known as Army Rangers for an entire year in New Guinea’s mountains.
Mucci became famous when, in January 1945, he led an Army Ranger force and Filipino guerrillas on an amazing raid to liberate more than 500 Allied prisoners from Cabanatuan Japanese camp and win them their freedom – an event that earned him the Distinguished Service Cross award – the nation’s second highest valor award.
Mucci was a former boxer and judo master who led his men in intense physical training sessions to push their bodies to their physical limits. He instructed them in all aspects of fighting such as hand-to-hand combat, knife wielding and bayoneting before leading them across jungles, treacherous rivers and mountain sides with relentless heat in an epic march across jungles, treacherous rivers and up mountainsides.
Mucci returned home after World War II to Bridgeport where he was welcomed as a hero, married Marion Fountain and had three children together with her. Additionally, Mucci represented an oil company in India as its representative.
Achievement and Honors
Mucci took an unusual approach during World War II by organizing an elite army Ranger battalion from Army mule skinners he met on patrol into one of the first American special forces units – training his team for one year in New Guinea mountainous terrain and teaching them to survive and conduct amphibious reconnaissance and raids as well as killing and defending themselves.
Mucci made headlines throughout World War II for leading his men on an incredible mission known as the Raid on Cabanatuan in January 1945. This mission, which freed many survivors of Bataan Death March, became one of the most successful rescue operations ever conducted by US forces – making Mucci one of the most celebrated figures of his era.
General Douglas MacArthur honored Mucci with the Distinguished Service Cross and promoted him to full colonel status. When Mucci returned home after serving, his hometown embraced him like a hero.
Henry Mucci was born to an Italian family in Bridgeport, Connecticut and later joined the Connecticut National Guard before being accepted to United States Military Academy at West Point in 1936. Thereafter he graduated as an Army Ranger Colonel.
His service as an American war hero during World War II instantly made him an instant national hero. He led an extraordinary raid that saved 500 survivors of Corregidor Island and Bataan Death March at Cabanatuan Prison camp – which stands out as one of the most successful rescue missions ever conducted by US military history.
Mucci prepared his team for the raid by leading them on rigorous hikes and teaching them hand-to-hand fighting techniques. When given orders to launch his mission, his entire squad was fully ready. Unfortunately he passed away at age 86 in 1997 – one section of the United States Embassy in Rome has since been named in his honor.
Henry Mucci was born March 4, 1911 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. A notable Army Rangers colonel during World War II, Mucci led an unsuccessful raid that freed more than 500 prisoners held captive at Japanese prison camps in the Philippines. Mucci died at 86 years old.
He prepared his squad for their raid by teaching martial arts and leading them on strenuous hikes through tropical heat. Although unsuccessful in his bid for Congress in 1946, he later served as President of Bridgeport Lincoln Mercury and an oil representative in India.
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