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John Wesley Merritt's Service to Country
1940 - 1945 | Texas and The South Pacific
After his father, Bennett Davis Merritt (1867-1939), died the previous year, a 27-year-old John Wesley Merritt (1913-2005) joined the National Guard in Mineral Wells, TX on 18 Nov 1940 to help support his mother, Mary Belle Easley Merritt (1895-1962), and younger siblings. He was scheduled for discharge in Jan 1941, but ended up serving another four years because all on active duty were held for the duration of WWII.
After his mother remarried in Aug 1941 and John's obligation to support her was diminished, he pursued the attentions of a young lady he had admired for years. On 3 Nov 1941, John and Lottie Pauline Etheridge (1925-2001) were married in Olden before he deployed to Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX.
Because of his deep religious convictions, John was assigned to serve as a medic and driver with the U.S. Army's 112th Calvary when his unit was mobilized from Fort Bliss and sent to The South Pacific. He acquired malaria while in service, and despite his assigned duties as a noncombatant, John did see action while overseas. He told his family that, although it pained him deeply to do so, he found it impossible in the heat of battle not to take up arms to protect fellow soldiers and save his own life.
Private John Wesley Merritt received an Honorable Discharge due to demobilization in 1945. Before a year had passed, he laid the foundations for a family when he and his wife's first son, Ted Wesley Merritt, was born in Jun 1946. A second son, Marvin Lance Merritt, was born in May 1948 before John used his GI Bill to pursue training in electronics at Cisco Junior College in Cisco, TX from 1949-1950. There, his third child and first daughter, Mona Lisa Merritt, was born in Sep 1950.
The experience of war didn't seem to change John's easy-going nature after he returned, but he suffered with bouts of malaria for nearly fifty years. As he grew older, he often woke perspiring heavily, flailing and kicking; when he settled down enough to talk, he would tell us, "I was in the jungle; fighting [the Japanese] in my dreams."