Joseph Frederick Merrell


Joseph Frederick Merrell Famous memorial

Staten Island, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA
Death 18 Apr 1945 (aged 18)
Nuremberg, Stadtkreis Nürnberg, Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
Burial West New Brighton, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA
Plot Section XXX, Plot 434
Memorial ID 8308268 View Source

World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. He was issued the award posthumously (presented to his sister) in March 1946 in a ceremony at Fort Wadsworth, on Staten Island, New York City, New York, for his actions as a private with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, US Army, on April 18, 1945, near Lohe, Germany. After graduating from high school in 1944, he joined the US Army. Following his recruit and combat training, he was sent to the European Theater of Operations as part of the 3rd Infantry Division. On April 18, 1945, he singlehandedly attacked German positions that were firing on his unit, disabling two enemy machine gun emplacements and killed nearly two dozen German soldiers before he was himself killed. He was also awarded the Purple Heart. Originally buried in a US military cemetery in Germany, in July 1948, his remains were repatriated to the US and reinterred at Saint Peter's Cemetery in West New Brighton, New York. His Medal of Honor citation reads: "He made a gallant, one-man attack against vastly superior enemy forces near Lohe, Germany. His unit, attempting a quick conquest of hostile hill positions that would open the route to Nuremberg before the enemy could organize his defense of that city, was pinned down by brutal fire from rifles, machine pistols, and two heavy machine guns. Entirely on his own initiative, Pvt. Merrell began a singlehanded assault. He ran 100 yards through concentrated fire, barely escaping death at each stride, and at point-blank range engaged four German machine pistolmen with his rifle, killing all of them while their bullets ripped his uniform. As he started forward again, his rifle was smashed by a sniper's bullet, leaving him armed only with three grenades. But he did not hesitate. He zigzagged 200 yards through a hail of bullets to within 10 yards of the first machine gun, where he hurled two grenades and then rushed the position ready to fight with his bare hands if necessary. In the emplacement he seized a Luger pistol and killed what Germans had survived the grenade blast. Rearmed, he crawled toward the second machine gun located 30 yards away, killing four Germans in camouflaged foxholes on the way, but himself receiving a critical wound in the abdomen. And yet he went on, staggering, bleeding, disregarding bullets which tore through the folds of his clothing and glanced off his helmet. He threw his last grenade into the machine-gun nest and stumbled on to wipe out the crew. He had completed this self-appointed task when a machine pistol burst killed him instantly. In his spectacular one-man attack Pvt. Merrell killed six Germans in the first machine-gun emplacement, seven in the next, and an additional 10 infantrymen who were astride his path to the weapons which would have decimated his unit had he not assumed the burden of the assault and stormed the enemy positions with utter fearlessness, intrepidity of the highest order, and a willingness to sacrifice his own life so that his comrades could go on to victory."

Bio by: William Bjornstad


US Army 15th Infantry
Medal of Honor

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Don Morfe
  • Added: 23 Jan 2004
  • Find a Grave Memorial 8308268
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Joseph Frederick Merrell (21 Aug 1926–18 Apr 1945), Find a Grave Memorial ID 8308268, citing Saint Peter's Cemetery, West New Brighton, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .