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First Name: Gino

Last Name: Merli

Birthplace: Scranton, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Peckville, PA
Middle Name: Joseph

Date of Birth: 13 May 1924

Date of Death: 11 June 2002

Rank: Sergeant

Years Served: 1943 - 1945
Gino Joseph Merli

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Gino Joseph Merli

Sergeant, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Sergeant Gino Joseph Merli (13 May 1924 - 11 June 2002) was a U.S. Army soldier and recipient of the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Gino Joseph Merli was born on 13 May 1924 in Scranton, PA. Merli was the son of a coal miner. He entered service in the Army from Peckville, PA, in 1942 and served with the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. With his division, he went ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944 and participated in the Battle of the Bulge in December of the same year.

On the evening of 4 September 1944, near Sars la Bruyere, Belgium, his company was attacked by a superior German force. Their position was overwhelmed, but PFC Merli stayed with his machine gun covering their retreat. When his position was overrun, he feigned death while German soldiers prodded him with their bayonets, only to rise and confront the enemy when they withdrew. Twice he fooled German soldiers into believing he was no longer a threat, only to attack them again when they left him for dead. In the morning, a counterattack forced the Germans to ask for a truce. The negotiating party found Merli still at his gun. For his heroism, PFC Gino Merli was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Private First Class, U.S. Army, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Sars la Bruyere, Belgium, 4-5 September 1944.

Citation: He was serving as a machine gunner in the vicinity of Sars la Bruyere, Belgium, on the night of 4-5 September 1944, when his company was attacked by a superior German force Its position was overrun and he was surrounded when our troops were driven back by overwhelming numbers and firepower. Disregarding the fury of the enemy fire concentrated on him he maintained his position, covering the withdrawal of our riflemen and breaking the force of the enemy pressure. His assistant machine gunner was killed and the position captured; the other 8 members of the section were forced to surrender. Pfc. Merli slumped down beside the dead assistant gunner and feigned death. No sooner had the enemy group withdrawn then he was up and firing in all directions. Once more his position was taken and the captors found 2 apparently lifeless bodies. Throughout the night Pfc. Merli stayed at his weapon. By daybreak the enemy had suffered heavy losses, and as our troops launched an assault, asked for a truce. Our negotiating party, who accepted the German surrender, found Pfc. Merli still at his gun. On the battlefield lay 52 enemy dead, 19 of whom were directly in front of the gun. Pfc. Merli's gallantry and courage, and the losses and confusion that he caused the enemy, contributed materially to our victory.

PFC Gino Merli received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman on 15 June 1945.

Post-Military Life

In civilian life, Merli took it upon himself to serve fellow veterans. He was an adjudication officer for the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Plains Township, PA. He traveled to the Normandy beaches in 1984 in the company of Tom Brokaw and was a source of inspiration for Brokaw's book The Greatest Generation.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart (2)
Battle of the Bulge Medal


Merli received the Humanitarian Award of the Chapel of Four Chaplains for his actions during World War II.

The Veterans' Center in Scranton was named for Gino Merli in 2002.

Merli-Sarnoski State Park, located in Fell Township (just outside of Carbondale), PA, is co-named for Mr. Merli and Joseph Sarnoski, another WWII Medal of Honor recipient and Lackawanna County resident.

Gino Merli Drive, one of the main roads in Peckville, PA, is also named for him.

Death and Burial

Sergeant Gino Joseph Merli died on 11 June 2002. He is buried at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Cemetery in Carbondale, PA.

Honoree ID: 1538   Created by: MHOH




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