Army WWII veteran receives Bronze Star

Army WWII veteran receives Bronze Star

Army Brig. Gen. William Hall, the land component commander for the Arizona Army National Guard awards Trenton Mericle, a former Army Soldier and World War II veteran, a Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge Nov. 14 at Mericle’s home in Chandler, Ariz. Mericle had earned the awards as a .30 caliber machine gunner with the 186th Infantry Regiment, 41st Division, but had never received them until now. (National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Brian A. Barbour)

CHANDLER, Ariz. - Seventy years after battling the Japanese in New Guinea during World War II, a 94 year-old Army veteran received a Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge Nov. 14 at his home here.

 

Trenton Mericle, a retired carpenter and former infantryman with 186th Infantry Regiment, 41st Division, received the awards from Army Brig. Gen. William Hall, the land component commander for the Arizona Army National Guard.

 

Mericle was surrounded by family and friends as he sat quietly on a chair in his kitchen. He stood up slowly, stabilizing himself against his kitchen table and smiled as Hall pinned the awards onto his blazer lapel.

 

Mericle left the Army in 1945 without receiving any of the medals he earned during his four years as a Soldier.

 

He didn’t try to obtain those medals until recently, seven decades later, said Mericle. His hospice care social worker helped him contact Senator John McCain’s office. After two months he was able get his Bronze Star and other medals.

 

“I thought I might not get it,” said Mericle. “It’s an honor to receive the award.”

 

Mericle was deployed to the South Pacific where he was a .30 caliber machine gunner. In New Guinea, Mericle saw combat many times and flirted with death on several occasions.

 

“There were a lot of times in the Army I didn’t think I was going to make it,” said Mericle.  “The snipers would shoot at me.  They almost got me four times.”

 

Mericle spoke of one of those occasions.

 

“I just got my gun set down and the (Japanese) shot at me with the sniper (rifle), and he missed me,” said Mericle a little choked up. “My arm was against the tree and it chewed the tree up. It was that close.”

 

Family and friends listened as Mericle told stories of being a Soldier, softly gasping at some moments and laughing during others.

 

Mericle’s son, daughter and grandchildren we among the family present during the award presentation.  Mericle’s daughter, Deanna Guthrie, was grateful that her father was finally receiving his awards.

 

“We’re really happy for dad,” said Guthrie. “We’re happy that his grandsons were able to observe this celebration.”