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First Name: Merle

Last Name: Hay

Birthplace: Glidden, IA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Middle Name: David

Date of Birth:

Date of Death: 03 November 1917

Rank: Private

Years Served:
Merle David Hay

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Merle David Hay
Private, U.S. Army

Merle David Hay was born in Glidden, IA, in 1896.

Hay was a farm boy and store clerk from Glidden, who signed up to fight in World War I just weeks after the U.S. congress declared war on Germany. Within three weeks of enlisting, he was sailing to France, and in November he became one of the first three U.S. Army soldiers killed in World War I.

Private Hay, along with Corporal James Bethel Gresham and Thomas Enright, were killed by German troops in France while serving as part of Company F, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. The surprise attack by the Germans occurred at night, with vastly outmanned American forces engaging the enemy in close combat. Witnesses saw Private Hay using a bayonet to fight two German soldiers during the battle, and he was found dead after the attack. Besides the three men killed in the attack, five were wounded and twelve captured.

Hay, Gresham and Enright were buried on the battlefield where they fell.

Death and Burial

Private Merle David Hay was killed in action on 3 November 1917, one of the first three U.S. Army soldiers killed in World War I. In 1921, Private Hay's remains were removed and re-interred in his home town of Glidden, IA. The cemetery itself, previously known as West Lawn Cemetery, is now also known as Merle Hay Memorial Cemetery.

Honoree ID: 2617   Created by: MHOH




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