Rank and organization:
Private First Class, U.S. Army, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.
Place and date:
Near Sars la Bruyere, Belgium, 4 September 1944.
Entered service at:
64, 4 August 1945.
Citation: He was serving as a machine gunner in the vicinity of Sars la Bruyere, Belgium, on the night of 4 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 No sooner had the enemy group withdrawn then he was up and firing in all directions.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.