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First Name: Joseph

Last Name: Merrell

Birthplace: Staten Island, NY, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Staten Island, NY
Middle Name: Frederick

Date of Birth: 21 August 1926

Date of Death: 18 April 1945

Rank: Private

Years Served: 1944 - 1945
Joseph Frederick Merrell

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Joseph Frederick Merrell

Private, U.S. Army

Medal of Honor Recipient

World War II

Private Joseph Frederick Merrell (21 August 1926 - 18 April 1945) was a U.S. Army soldier who was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions during World War II.

Joseph Frederick Merrell was born on 21 August 1926 on Staten Island in New York City; he also joined the Army from that location. On 18 April 1945, he was serving as a Private in Company I, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. Near Lohe, Germany, that day, he single-handedly attacked German positions that were firing on his unit. He disabled two enemy machine gun emplacements and killed nearly two dozen German soldiers before he was killed. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, Company I, 15th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division.

Place and date: Near Lohe, Germany, 18 April 1945.

Citation: He made a gallant, 1-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 2 heavy machineguns. Entirely on his own initiative, Pvt. Merrell began a single-handed assault. He ran 100 yards through concentrated fire, barely escaping death at each stride, and at pointblank range engaged 4 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 3 grenades. But he did not hesitate. He zigzagged 200 yards through a hail of bullets to within 10 yards of the first machinegun, where he hurled 2 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 machinegun located 30 yards away, killing 4 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 machinegun 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 1-man attack Pvt. Merrell killed 6 Germans in the first machinegun emplacement, 7 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.


A military building in Nuernberg, Germany, was acquired by the U.S. Army and re-named the Merrell Barracks. The Merrell Barracks was vacated and returned to the German Government in September 1992.

A Staten Island Ferry boat was named after him (in service until 1982).

&The US Navy Freighter, the USNS Pvt. Joseph F Merrell was named in his honor. This ship served as a cargo ship during the Korean War and made expeditions to Antarctica in 1957 and again during operations Deep Freeze in 1962, '63, '64, and '65. The Merrell Valley in Antarctica is named after it. The USNS Pvt. Joseph F Merrell was scrapped in 1974.

A plaque dedicated to Private Merrell's honor is in the Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island, NY.

Death and Burial

Private Joseph Frederick Merrell was killed in action on 18 April 1945, at age 18. He is buried at Saint Peters Cemetery in West New Brighton, NY, in Section XXX, Plot 434.

Honoree ID: 1539   Created by: MHOH




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