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Joseph Frederick Merrell
Birth: Aug. 21, 1926
Staten Island
Richmond County (Staten Island)
New York, USA
Death: Apr. 18, 1945, Poland

World War II Medal of Honor Recipient. He was awarded the US military's highest decoration for his actions in World War II. Born on Staten Island, New York he enlisted in the US Army in August 1944 right after his 18th birthday and after completing basic training, he was sent to the European Theater of Operations where he achieved the rank of private in Company I, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. On April 18, 1945, near Lohe (a suburb of Nuremberg), Germany, he single-handedly attacked German positions which were firing on his unit. He disabled two enemy machine gun emplacements and killed nearly two dozen German soldiers before he was himself killed, at the age of 18. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor (on exhibit at Fort Wadsworth, now part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, maintained by the National Park Service) on February 26, 1946. In addition to the Medal of Honor, he also received the Purple Heart. A Staten Island Ferry boat was named after him (in service until 1982), as was the US Navy Freighter, the USNS Pvt. Joseph F Merrell (scrapped in 1974). A plaque dedicated to his honor is in the Clove Lakes Park, Staten Island, New York. His Medal of Honor citation reads: "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." (bio by: William Bjornstad) 
 
Burial:
Saint Peters Cemetery
West New Brighton
Richmond County (Staten Island)
New York, USA
Plot: Section XXX, Plot 434
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Don Morfe
Record added: Jan 23, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial# 8308268
Joseph Frederick Merrell
Added by: Ron Moody
 
Joseph Frederick Merrell
Added by: Don Morfe
 
Joseph Frederick Merrell
Cemetery Photo
Added by: Thebodells
 
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Sleep in heavenly peace
- EMLD
 Added: Nov. 8, 2014

- Lazer
 Added: Sep. 21, 2014
Thank you for your military service to our country during World War II and for your courage and valor beyond the call of duty. May you rest in peace.
- William Bjornstad
 Added: Aug. 22, 2014
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