Looking Backward: 'Charlie Lowe, Muleskinner and Sharpshooter'

Baldwinsville celebrates Memorial Day this Sunday May 30. This column is dedicated to our local veterans, more than 100 of whom served in World War II alone.

On Aug. 14, 1945, V-J Day marked the Japanese surrender and the end of war in Asia. One group that greatly contributed was "Merrill's Marauders." This "experiment" in Special Forces later led to elite fighting units like the Green Berets. One local Marauder was Charles Lowe of Red Rock.

Charlie was born near Binghamton on March 14, 1921, to Leon and Helen Lowe, both of whom labored in local factories. Charlie later worked on a farm, where his experiences herding livestock and hunting game prepared him for related roles in the war. Following his enlistment in the Army in May, 1940, Charlie helped to secure the Panama Canal Zone. After serving for three years in the jungles of Panama, Charlie became acclimated to extremes of heat and humidity. But nothing could fully prepare him for the part he would play in Burma, known now as Myanmar.

A 14-part report of WWII operations called the "American Forces in Action Series" was published in 1945. One installment explained that Merrill's Marauders was "trained for long-range penetration behind enemy lines in Japanese-held Burma .occupation of Burma menaced India, provided a bulwark against counterattack from the west, cut the last land route for supply of China, and added Burma's raw materials to the resources of an empire already rich .From February to May, 1944 the Marauders were in a drive to recover northern Burma and clear the way for the construction of the Ledo Road, which was to link the Indian railhead at Ledo with the old Burma Road to China." You may recall that "Hump" Pilot Harley Loveless, the subject of my story last Memorial Day, flew supplies over the Himalayas from Ledo to Myitkyina in a DC3-C47.

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