Local Hero

Joseph C. Brazz

Brazz, Joseph C.
Date of Birth: 10/7/1909

Date of Death: 11/20/1968

Joseph C Brazz

Coaldale, PA United States

CO A 509th Combat Engineers

Myanmar Army

This story was contributed by Frank Gutierrez

I am submitting this story in memory of my Uncle who was the most courageous and chivalrous man that I have ever known. As the child of dirt poor immigrant parents that could not speak English, and with no education past the ninth grade because he was required to work to support his family, his heroism in the jungles of SE Asia, in my mind, is above and beyond. But then again, it reflects the character of the generation that went to war for America during the dark days of WWII.

I sincerely thank you for this opportunity to tell his story:

Headquarters, United States Forces, India-Burma Theater

General Order Number 72
APC 885

9 April 1945

Joseph C. BRAZZ (Army Serial 33617646), (then Corporal), Corps of Engineers, United States Army.

"For meritorious service and heroism in action in North Burma during the period 9 June 1944 to 16 June 1944, Corporal Brazz, with the point platoon in a company attack, successfully held a position with machine gun fire after other members of the gun crew had become casualties from heavy enemy fire. This action permitted the successful evacuation of the wounded. From 13 June to 16 June, Corporal Brazz manned his machine gun alone although he had been wounded in the face by multiple grenade blasts, and repelled numerous waves of enemy attacks, although the gun was thrown out of position four times by enemy mortar fire..."

As the son of Russian immigrants, my Uncle went to war as a 32 year old volunteer. He was an anthracite coal miner and was assigned to the Army engineers and sent to Burma to build the Burma road. While the exploits of Merrill's Marauders dominate the history of the China-Burma-India campaign, the Army engineers build a road over the Himalaya mountains, while they were fighting the imperial Japanese Army in the jungles of SE Asia--truly a legendary story that has never been afforded the publicity it deserves.

His award for the aforementioned action was merely a Bronze Star while lesser feats of heroism and courage by the soldiers assigned to the combat arms units in SE Asia were significantly inflated. His action in holding a position in the jungle alone, for three days and nights, against wave after wave of Japanese infantry attacks--and then climbing back into position after being blown out of his hole on four occasions despite being wounded--merits a greater acknowledgement of his actions than a Bronze Star.

His courage and devotion to his country reflect the greatest credit upon himself, his family, and the Armed Forces of the United States.

Thank you + very respectfully

Frank Gutierrez

CDR USN (Retired)