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Monday, May 30, 2022

Memorial Day 2022

UPDATED from Memorial Day post May 26, 2019

In light of recent events and upheaval in Myanmar, Burma, we are offering this post concerning the loss of the brother of Steve Canyon star Dean Fredericks during WWII

"Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. In other words, the purpose of Memorial Day is to memorialize the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. We spend time remembering those who lost their lives and could not come home, reflecting on their service and why we have the luxury and freedom that we enjoy today. We might consider how we can support and safeguard their grieving families and loved ones who are left behind." - The Farmer's Almanac

Newspaper clipping from the Antelope Valley Ledger Gazette, Thursday May 10, 1945

Sgt. Fred J. Foote was serving in action against the Japanese in New Guinea when he got the word that his brother "Bud" had been killed in a Japanese ambush on July 20, 1944. Fred's unit was preparing for the invasion of the Philippines in October. He would miss his fallen brother for the rest of his life, and visited his grave in Hawaii whenever he could over the years.

Airman Edward "Bud" Foote

Edward "Bud" Foote enlisted in Los Angeles in March of 1942...just 7 months before his younger brother. While Fred had later joined the famed 1st Cavalry Division, Bud wanted to be a pilot and joined the Army Air Corps as a Private...he eventually attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant with the 5307th Composite Unit, more popularly known as MERRILL'S MARAUDERS as a C-47 pilot.

"Merrill's Marauder" Edward "Bud" Foote

Though they were only operational for 6 months, their exploits in Burma under impossible odds and horrible conditions are legendary. Their battles against the enemy's superior forces as well as struggles against constant torrential downpours, hunger and disease (which took more of their lives than the Japanese did) were noted when the unit was awarded a Distinguished Service Citation in recognition of their heroism. Bud Foote (and each soldier in the unit) also received The Bronze Star...though his was posthumous, and was accompanied by a Purple Heart.

Bronze Star and Purple Heart service medals

I'm certain those reading this until now have never heard of Lt. Edward G. Foote, but he gave his life in the service of our country back in July of 1944, and was a hero in the very true sense of the word.

Remember him the next time you watch an episode of Steve Canyon, for his brother, who also was a hero during WWII...

Corporal Frederick J. Foote at Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas 1943

(aka Dean Fredericks, star and namesake of STEVE CANYON)

Happier times: Teenaged brothers Bud and Fred Foote before the war.

The following is an excerpt from the book, “We Remember” by Dayle L. DeBry (courtesy of the author):

Bud's Junior High School yearbook picture.

     Edward G. Foote, Jr., was born about 1922 in Illinois, the son of Edward G. and Margaret Foote, Sr., from New York and Illinois, respectively.  By 1930 the family was living in the South Gate area of Los Angeles Co., California where Edward, Sr. was employed as a salesman for an oil refining company.  The family included Edward’s wife, Margaret, and sons Edward, Jr. and Fred Foote.

     While attending AVJUHS, Edward was involved in many activities including three years of Varsity football, and two years of basketball.  In his junior year he was elected the Jr. Class yell leader and was also a member of the Letterman’s Club.  Edward graduated from AVJUHS with the class of 1941.

     On March 20, 1942, Edward enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the U.S. Army Air Forces before attending Officer Candidate School.   In 1943, Edward was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army after the successful completion of the Officer Candidate course at the Infantry School in Fort Benning, Georgia. He held the rank of corporal before being commissioned.

     As part of the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), Edward was sent to Myitkyina, Burma.  The group later became known as “Merrill’s Marauders” named after its leader, Brigadier General Frank Merrill.  The jungles of Burma were thick with vegetation – no room for the jeeps and trucks needed to carry supplies.  The men had to carry all their equipment and supplies over 800 miles, marching over jungle and mountain roads.  All the equipment was carried by the soldiers, on their back, or on the backs of pack mules.  They were re-supplied by air drops after clearing the thick jungles areas below.  Landing strips were hacked out to allow small planes in to evacuate the sick and wounded.  At the end of the Burma Campaign, all remaining soldiers were evacuated to hospitals suffering from tropical diseases, exhaustion and malnutrition. 

     On July 2, 1944, Edward was killed in action.  He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Bronze Star.  For their accomplishments in Burma, the Marauders were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation in July 1944.  The Marauders also have the rare distinction of having every member of the unit receive a Bronze Star, duly awarded for their “heroism and outstanding achievement in a combat theater.”

     2nd Lieutenant Edward G. Foote, Jr. was buried at the Honolulu Memorial, in Honolulu, Hawaii, where his name is joined with thousands of other soldiers who died in World War II.

Battle of Myitkyina – Author unknown

At Myitkyina today they lie at rest
There were soldiers all and gave their best
They fought and died in days of rain
And prayed for sun that never came.

Through mud they crawled to find their foe
They cursed and swore but on they go
As days went by and night fell
They all slept on the walls of hell.

Artillery shells with their melody of death
Whizzed by with each and every breath
As dawn came to light the earth
Amid sniper fire through dirt
In falling rain they fought on
Hope to live by those had gone.

Myitkyina has fallen at last
They would be glad to know of the finished task              
But the trails are filled with Yankee blood
Of gallant men who fought, died in Burma mud
Courageous men these, they fought and fell;  Bless them all, God; treat them well.


Remembering our Veterans and fallen service men and women on Memorial Day 2022.

John Ellis
Hollywood, CA

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