On Friday, 20 March 2015, the nonprofit organization Purple Hearts Reunited (PHR) presented a replacement Purple Heart to the grand-niece of a WWII Marine who was killed in action in 1944. Kate Noah of Eugene received a replacement of her great uncle’s Purple Heart medal, which was more than likely sold at an estate sale years ago.
Bruce David Merritt was born 17 December 1917, the son of George and Gail Merritt of Newton, KS. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1943 and did boot training at San Diego, CA and basic training at Camp Pendleton, CA. CPL Merritt served in WWII with the 24th Marines, 4th Marine Division. Unfortunately, CPL Merritt (service number 00864265) was killed in action on 22 June 1944 at Saipan. He is buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, in Section M, Site 261. Merritt left behind a wife, Virginia. CPL Merritt’s decorations include the Purple Heart, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and WWII Victory Medal.
The details surrounding the disappearance of CPL Merritt’s Purple Heart are unclear. However, Ms. Noah reached out to Purple Hearts Reunited in 2015 to report it missing. A stranger from Oakland, CA had located her and sent her great uncle’s Bible and a daily diary kept by his wife, after buying the items at an estate sale. CPL Merritt’s sister (Noah’s grandmother) had given the Marine the Bible, and Noah recognized it. Both Noah and PHR founder Zachariah Fike think it likely that the Purple Heart, and possibly CPL Merritt’s additional commendations, were sold at this estate sale as well. The original Purple Heart medal, inscribed with CPL Merritt’s name, is still missing. Purple Hearts Reunited hopes that making this veteran’s story accessible to the public will facilitate the discovery and return of the original.
This Purple Heart replacement ceremony was made possible by a generous donation by the Antonio & Rita Pomerleau Foundation.