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George Mergenthaler had it all. Young, charismatic, strikingly handsome, a gifted athlete, an Ivy League graduate who spoke fluent German and French, “Merg” as his friends called him, was also the sole male heir to a vast family fortune.
However in December 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor none of that mattered. Wanting to do his part, Merg gave up his charmed life and enlisted in the Army. He was assigned to a Reconnaissance Troop in the 28th Infantry Division, that would fight through France, Belgium and Luxembourg. In mid-November 1944, after two weeks of horrific, bloody fighting in the Huertgen Forest, the battered 28th Infantry Division was sent west to Luxembourg for some much needed R&R.
Merg and the rest of the Recon Troop were sent to the small town of Eschweiler, where the soldiers quickly bonded with the townspeople, sharing their homes, meals, hopes and dreams. Able to easily communicate, and sharing his bountiful care packages from home, Merg was quickly embraced by the town as one of their own. For that brief period, life seemed almost normal.
The idyll was shattered a month later when the Germans launched a surprise attack through the Ardennes Forest. The Battle of the Bulge had begun. Eschweiler along with the rest of Luxembourg, was about to be overrun by the rapid German advance. Forced to retreat from Eschweiler, the Recon Troop drove into the spearhead of the German advance in that sector. Pinned down, with capture or death were their only options, Merg proved what a truly exceptional man he was.
A memorable and poignant micro-narrative from World War Two... a hugely moving story, elegantly told.
ROGER MOOREHOUSE, Historian; author of "First to Fight: The Polish War 1939” and "Berlin at War”
A powerful and profound book, a must-read for enthusiasts of history and military nonfiction, MERG is a story of selflessness and heroism, the story of a remarkable buck private who loved a town, and the town that loved him back.
MARCUS BROTHERTON, New York Times bestselling author of “Blaze of Light”, “We Who Are Alive & Remain”, “A Company of Heroes”, and “Shifty’s War”
A sweeping and inspiring true story of honor, bravery and sacrifice that endures to this very day. A powerful must read.
Kevin Corke, FOX News White House Correspondent
75th Anniversary Edition
In December 1944, during the darkest days of WWII, a handful of American soldiers banded to together to help bring the Christmas spirit back to the town of Wiltz, Luxembourg.
Outlawed during nearly five years of Nazi occupation, the people of Wiltz were finally allowed to celebrate St. Nicolas Day. The ravages and shortages of war, however, made the upcoming holiday that focused on the children of the town, look rather bleak.
That's when 24-year-old Corporal Harry Stutz got an idea. What if the GIs threw a Christmas party for the kids in town? After getting approval for the party and handling all the arrangements, Harry needed just one more thing: he needed someone to play St. Nicolas for the children of Wiltz. That's when he turned to his friend and roommate Richard Brookins. What followed would touch the lives of all who were involved, and would continue to do so for generations to come.
It will touch your heart and make you proud.
TOM BROKAW, Author of "The Greatest Generation"
An uplifting must read.
WILLIE GEIST, NBC News Anchor
...recaptures the magic of Santa to transcend even the darkest of times.
MEREDITH VIEIRA, Journalist and TV Talk Show Host