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World War II Veteran honored by Charleston VA on 97th birthday

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The Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System is honoring World War II Veteran Ralph Fields with a shadow box commemorating his military service on Thursday, January 27th at 2 pm in the Hall of Heroes at The Ralph H. Johnson VA hospital in downtown Charleston.

Ralph Fields, a member of the famous and decorated Merrill’s Marauders, entered into service in March 1943 at Fort McPherson, Georgia, where he began basic training as a rifleman. Fields promoted in just 18 months from a Private First Class to a Staff Sargant and became a mortarman with the U.S. Army’s 475th Infantry Regiment. He served in campaigns across China, Central Burma, and India Burma. As part of the MARS Task Force, Fields was responsible for penetrating deep inside of enemy territory to capture crucial checkpoints and objectives, while traversing difficult landscapes throughout Burma and South East Asia.

The 475th Infantry Regiment would become the 75th Infantry Regiment, which would later become the 75th Ranger Regiment. The covert missions behind enemy lines that were accomplished by the 475th Infantry Regiment proved that small, specially trained units were extremely valuable to U.S. Military and are still implemented today, most notably with the unit that was created from the MARS task force, the Army Rangers.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Brigadier General John Painter, who is also a Chaplain at the Charleston VA, will be presenting the shadow box to Fields. He has been a patient with the Ralph H. Johnson VA for over 20 years and currently resides in Beaufort, South Carolina, where he receives care from the Beaufort VA Outpatient Clinic. Fields son-in-law is also employed at the Charleston VA.

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