George Dickson Altman
George Dickson Altman was the eighth of ten children born to Samuel Kunkle and Mary Jane Eck Altman. He was born 27 February 1926 in Wegley, Hempfield Township, Westmoreland County, PA. At eighteen, George registered for the draft on 30 June 1942. In April, 1943, at the age of nineteen George, known as Dick, began active service. In October he was on board ship for a twenty-day trip to the African Middle Eastern Theatre. He did not remain there for long as he volunteered for a secret and “dangerous one-time mission in an unspecified part of the world.” Just before Christmas, Dick, along with 3,000 other volunteers, arrived in Ledo, India, to be trained in jungle warfare. By January of 1944 these men became known as Merrill’s Marauders, the jungle fighters of World War II, named after their leader, General Frank Merrill. Officially, they were the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional). Their code name was Galahad. This group was a United States Army long range penetration special operations jungle warfare unit which fought in the China-Burma-India Theatre (CBI) of World War II. They were the only ground combat unit in the area.
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