Leslie A. Holtzapfel

Branch: ARMY
Rank: Private
Outfit: 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional)/475th Infantry Reg, Co. “G”

Leslie was born on January 3, 1923 in the family home at 3119 East Ironsides Road in the Fairview section of Camden, NJ. The Holtzapfel family moved from Camden to 13 Valley Road in Mount Ephraim about October of 1931 after Leslie’s mother, Ethel was tragically killed in a motor vehicle crash on Black Hose Pike at Kendall Boulevard in Oaklyn. According to the 1940 Federal Census, Leslie was educated to 7th grade and held a job as an errand boy for a local meat market. He later went to work for the Radio Condenser Company in Camden, NJ. 
On February 15, 1943, he joined the U.S. Army. Leslie was stated to have received basic training in the area of Shreveport, LA (either Camp Livingston or Camp Claiborne). After basic, he was assigned to reinforce the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), code name: "Galahad". These men were more commonly referred to as “Merrill’s Marauders”.
The Marauders were an all-volunteer force of 3000 soldiers lead by Brigadier General Frank Merrill, whose mission was to infiltrate deep into the Japanese lines in the jungles of Burma (now Myanmar) to disrupt and destroy their supply & communication lines and reopen the blockaded Burma Road. From February to June of 1944, The Marauders had marched over 700 miles through dense jungle and hiked up the outer edges of the Himalayan Mountain range while engaging enemy forces larger than themselves. This was done without assistance from tanks or heavy artillery and all their supplies were carried via mules. Their goal was to retake the airfield and city of Myitkyina, which was utilized by Japanese fighter planes to intercept cargo flying between India and China. By the time the Marauders had reached Myitkyina in mid-May, it was the middle of the monsoon season and nearly all the soldiers were suffering from a combination of severe exhaustion, malnutrition, and a host of tropical diseases. They were in great need of being relieved by fresh troops which unfortunately weren't readily available to deploy. Some soldiers were actually falling asleep during intense fighting.
In April 1944, Private Holtzapfel and the new group, now known as "New Galahad", reported to Fort Meade, MD. They were taken to Camp Patrick Henry, VA before boarding the USS H.W. General Butner, for the 4 week cruise stopping in South Africa and ultimately arriving in Bombay (Mumbai), India on May 25th. "New Galahad" trained in India for a very brief period before hastily getting flown directly into the battle zone at the Myitkyina Airfield on June 1, 1944. Leslie was assigned as an automatic rifleman for the 5307th C.U.P., 2nd Battalion, Company “G". The Marauders fought for control of this area for several months taking many casualties and making slow progress until finally prevailing in early August. 
I do not yet know the exact details of how he was killed, but he was reported as missing on June 28, 1944. In a statement by the Courier Post, the last letter that Leslie sent to his father was received by Albert some time in August 1944. Private Holtzapfel was officially listed as "missing in action" on September 8, 1944. On March 16, 1946, he was officially declared dead by the war department. The family held a memorial service on March 31, 1946 at the Advent Lutheran Church on East Kings Highway, Mt. Ephraim. To this day, his remains have yet to be found or recovered from Myanmar. 
Not only is Leslie Holtzapfel’s name engraved on the memorial at the Veterans Triangle on Davis Avenue, in Mount Ephraim, but it is also inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines. He was survived by his father Albert, brothers Albert Jr. and Jack (both of whom served in the army during World War II), sisters Hazel Zane and Edith. Leslie had one younger brother, David that died at 3 days old.


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