World War II vet gets congressional medal, dies next day

May 27, 2022 GMT

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (AP) — A World War II veteran from Chippewa Falls has died the day after receiving a congressional medal.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported Friday that Raleigh Nayes was part of Merrill’s Marauders, a unit of several thousand U.S. soldiers who attacked the Japanese from behind their lines in Burma in 1944. The unit was named for its leader, Brig. Gen. Frank Merrill.

Of the unit’s 3,000 soldiers, only 200 survived, according to an account in Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military’s news organization.

Congress last fall approved the Congressional Gold Medal for all the soldiers in the unit. According to the U.S. House of Representatives website, the medal is Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”

Nayes received his medal on April 20 at the assisted living home where he was living. He died in his sleep early the next morning at age 99.

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“When it finally happened, it was a big moment,” said Raleigh Nayes’ oldest son, Jim. “Dad was pretty stoic, but it was very emotional for the rest of us. We are extremely proud of his service.”

Nayes’ death left four Marauders still alive as of April 27, according to Stars and Stripes.