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Leander S (S) Merkel

War: World War II
Parent/Wife: Edward
City: Marshfield
Birth Date: 13 Feb 1913
Death Date: 7 Dec 1942
How Died: Kia
Where Died: New Guinea
Where Buried:
Rank: S-Sgt
Branch: Army

Kia=Killed in Action
Dow=Died of Wounds
Dod=Died of Disease
Mia=Missing in Action

Stories

Leander Lee Merkel; a Fallen Soldier Honored

It’s January, 1943. The United States is just two years into the Second World War and even in Marshfield, Wisconsin, people can sense that the seemingly distant conflict has been brought into their homes. The shock of reality begins to set in as local families are impacted by the destruction of the far-off war. The Merkel family experienced this devastation when they were informed in December of 1942 of the death of their beloved brother and son. A war department telegram arrived at the home of Mrs. and Mr. Edward Merkel, informing the family of Leander Lee Merkel’s death on the other side of the world.

Leander Merkel was born on February 19, 1913. He was born into a family that would grow to include four brothers and two sisters. He attended school through his elementary and high school years at Saint John’s Catholic School. Leander led a dedicated life as a member of the Knights of Columbus, which is a Catholic organization devoted to charity and the service of the community, and Saint John’s Holy Name Society. He also took time to be a member of the Marshfield Fire Department.

Leander Merkel was working as a garage mechanic when he enlisted and was inducted into the United States Army as a member of the National Guard in October of 1940. He willingly dedicated his life to the preservation and defense of his country and of his fellow countrymen. Leander trained at Camp Livingston, Louisiana and then attended a motor mechanics school in Georgia. He was afterwards transferred to Fort Ord, California from where he was soon deployed overseas in April of 1942.

Staff Sgt. Leander Lee Merkel was killed in action on December 7, 1942, the first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and eight months after his deployment. He died on the New Guinea battlefield as the sixth man from Marshfield to be killed or go missing in action so far in the Second World War.

The community mourned the loss of their brilliant soldier. A mass was held in his honor at the church he attended in his childhood. Leander’s life had been cut short, ending abruptly at the age of 29. He had been a citizen of Marshfield for 27 years, and the city was proud to declare his short existence as a part of life there.

On January 22, 1943, the Merkel family once again received a war department telegram. Leander Lee Merkel had received the decoration of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. The gleaming golden medal and engraved certificate arrived at their home two weeks later. The medal hung from a strip of deep purple. It proudly bore the profile of General George Washington, and the reverse of the small heart displayed the engraved words that honored the man who gave up everything he had fighting for the security of the United States: “For Military Merit: Leander Lee Merkel.” The Merkel family said he had “made the supreme sacrifice in the defense of his country.” Without individuals like Leander Merkel in the service of the United States, this country wouldn’t exist. They are the men and women who fight for the freedom and liberty of the nation, and they are the reason this nation is worth fighting for.

Written By:
Carmen Stone

 


News Articles

Merkel Notice
Posthumous Award
Purple Heart Awarded
Purple Heart Awarded 2

 

  Honoring Our Wood County War Dead