Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Italian Populations and Culture, Neighborhood: North End, Veterans and Wars

Colonel Henry Mucci, American Hero

Photo: Colonel Henry Mucci

Bridgeporter Henry Mucci was born in 1911 to an Italian immigrant family.

Despite being initially rejected from West Point as “short,” Mucci became a master of physical endurance and hand-to-hand fighting skills. In World War II, Mucci forged a crew of farmers into a dedicated, unstoppable U.S. Ranger battalion, one of the first American special forces units.

When the time came for a daring rescue mission in the Philippines, the military called on Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci and his team.

Some 513 survivors from the infamous “Bataan Death March” were scheduled to be killed, and though the move lacked all strategic sense, the Rangers snuck through enemy lines, hustled thirty miles past thousands of Japanese troops, and stormed the prison camp. Only two Rangers died, and every single prisoner was carried back to safety. It was the largest successful rescue mission ever mounted in American history.

In November 1974, the portion of Route 25 between Bridgeport and Newtown was named the Col. Henry A. Mucci Highway.  Henry Mucci died in 1997.

Want to learn more about Colonel Henry Mucci? The Bridgeport History Center has the following materials available:

Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City. By Eric D. Lehman (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009.)

Bridgeport at Work, Mary K. Witkowski  2002

— Bridgeport History Center, Newspaper Clipping File, Biography:  Mucci, Henry

Related books:  Ghost Soldiers. Sides, Hampton.   2001

The Great Raid, movie about Colonel Henry Mucci,  2005.

Eric Lehman
Eric D. Lehman teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Bridgeport, and is the author of several books, including Bridgeport: Tales from the Park City; Becoming Tom Thumb: Charles Stratton, P.T. Barnum and the Dawn of American Celebrity; Afoot in Connecticut: Journeys in Natural History; and A History of Connecticut Wine; and ; A history of Connecticut food : a proud tradition of puddings, clambakes and steamed cheeseburgers. You may contact him at elehman@bridgeport.edu.