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George Merz

818th Military Police Company
Born February 23, 1925, in Louisville, Kentucky,
WWII Service: 1943-1946

George Merz

George had never left his Kentucky hometown before traveling to Europe and the Normandy beaches at age 19. “Like the very ship I sailed on, I seemed calm and steady on the surface but had propellers of nervous excitement violently churning below,” the highly decorated veteran recalled.

Yet George discovered a sense of belonging in Gouvy, Belgium, where he guarded a food ration depot and handled general police duties. There he lodged with the Lallemand family, who welcomed him like “a long-lost American family member,” said George, recalling shared meals— sometimes of wild boar—and the brick his hosts warmed for his cold bed. “The best times were the accidental moments when they forgot we were strangers.”

As the Battle of the Bulge broke out, George received orders: destroy the rations, which would be useful to the advancing Germans, and head to Bastogne. There he directed armored vehicles, scouted for enemy paratroopers disguised as American soldiers, and managed essential traffic through the besieged town while under enemy fire and in blizzard conditions—a feat which earned him a Bronze Star.

George visited the Lallemand family once more before heading home at war’s end: “I truly was lucky to find a peaceful refuge during these violent times in Europe.”