The Life of Melvin John Mertz

Melvin John Mertz, 24, is dead, His death January 30th, by his own hand was a great shock, not only by his loved ones but the entire community particularly among his buddies, and his fellow workers at the Kutztown publishing company. His last service at the publishing company was to feed the machine that folded the January 29th Patriot.

Melly as his friends called him, gave three years to Uncle Sam’s Navy, and earned not only the Good Conduct medal but the Victory Medal and the Asiatic Pacific, European and American Theater ribbons. He saw the final of the battle at Anzio Beach-head; broke a wrist during a South Pacific storm; and when blown off another ship, which was struck by a mine, he was in the water three hours. He was a member of the gun crew of the S.S. James Ford Rhoads, that won a citation from the Captain "for standing firmly at their posts and cooly defending the ship in true Navy tradition," when the convoy was attacked by enemy planes.

He kept a detailed record of his service aboard many ships, and among his ports of call were England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Italy, Sicily, Africa, Panama and Trinidad. He last served on Okinawa and attained the rank of Seaman First Class.

Among the autographs he treasured was that of a Captain, who wrote, "Mertz to me." He was often dubbed "Dutchman" and his Pennsylvania Dutch enabled him to lend assistance when his boat carried German Prisoners. His diary contains such entries as these: "Perfect gun drill" "Scraped paint," "Went to church" and his account of a visit with an Irish family as follows; " we were sure hoping they'd have a daughter, and our wish was granted. they had a daughter two years old. She had red hair and was very cute. I got along with her very well and held her on my lap." Still another entry reads: "I called up home from New York, and was sure disappointed to hear you had baked some cup cakes for me, and now I couldn't come home.

Since his return from overseas, "Melly" paid for improvements to his mothers kitchen, had the house insulated and purchased the lot next door. He was born Feb. 13, 1923, at 317 Pennsylvania ave., still the home of his parents, Charles & Lennie ( Deisher) MERTZ. A brother Paul, Allentown, two sisters, Mrs Francis Harter, at home and Mrs Harold Burgert, Fleetwood R 2, survive. Richard Harter, aged two a great favorite, also survives, and another nephew, Richard's brother who was born the night before Melvin's death. His dog, "Rags," cannot seem to understand why he doesn't come home anymore.

He was a member of Hoch-Balthaser Post # 480, American Legion and the affiliated Home, Inc.: the local V. F. W., Naval Reserves and the Kutztown Social Club.. He was also a member of St. John's Lutheran Church. He graduated from KHS in 1941, his first job was at the Kutztown Textile Mills, Inc. Prior to enlistment October 1, 1942, he was employed at the local Foundry.

The funeral which was largely attended, was held at 2 p. m. Wednesday at the Fritz and Kendall Funeral Home, Rev. J. W. Bittner officiating. Pall-bearers were these members of the VFW: Arthur Moyer, Clarence Smith and Robert Miller, and these Legionaries; Fred Bennicoff, Francis Mertz and Leroy Buck. Burial was made in the Hope cemetery. Flowers were profuse, and the Mertz home was filled with bouquets, silent tribute to the esteem in which "Melly " was held.

Patriot, 2/5/1948

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S 1/C Navy WW II

Military Service

World War II