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Engel Posthumously Honors Rye Veteran George Mergenthaler With a Congressional Record for Veterans Day

Engel Posthumously Honors Rye Veteran George Mergenthaler With a Congressional Record for Veterans Day

 

Congressman Eliot L. Engel is marking Veterans Day with a special Congressional Record posthumously honoring Rye Veteran George Mergenthaler, who served with great heroism and distinction in World War II.

 

“Madam Speaker, as we approach the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, I would like to take a moment to honor a true American hero, George Mergenthaler,” Engel wrote in his Congressional Record.

 

Mergenthaler was born in Rye and enlisted in the armed forces shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1944, when his convoy drove into a German ambush, George sprang to action. Showing no regard for his personal safety, he jumped into the back of a jeep, manned a .50-caliber machine gun and provided enough covering fire for the rest of the Recon Troop soldiers to make their escape. Seconds later the machine gun jammed. As George tried to clear the breach, German bullets cut him down.

 

“George Mergenthaler was young man, an only son, heir to a family fortune with a bright future ahead of him. He literally ‘had it all’. However as the Battle of the Bulge raged, in a moment of selflessness, he made the ultimate sacrifice while saving the lives of his fellow soldiers. Deserving of a posthumous Medal of Honor, George Mergenthaler is a truly an American Hero. I thank Congressman Engel for taking this important step to recognize George, his life, and his service to our nation in the Congressional Record,” said Peter Lion, author of “MERG” and “American St Nick”.

 

Full text of Congressman Engel’s Congressional Record honoring George Mergenthaler can be found below:

 

Madam Speaker, as we approach the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, I would like to take a moment to honor a true American hero, George Mergenthaler.

 

George was born on August 5th, 1920 and was the only child of Alice and Hermann Mergenthaler of Rye, NY. He grew up in Rye and was later accepted into Princeton University in September of 1939.

 

A gifted athlete, dedicated student, handsome and charismatic, “Merg” as he was known, was well liked by all who knew him. With studies that focused on History and English, George’s time at Princeton was everything he could have hoped for.

 

All that changed on December 7, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Like many of his generation, George enlisted soon after the attack, but his enlistment was deferred until he graduated in January 1943 in an accelerated program. Just days later he was sent to Camp Hood in Texas for basic training. Discovering his fluency with German and French, the army assigned George to the 28th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop.

 

Following overseas training in Wales, George and the rest of the Recon Troop entered the European Theater of Operation in mid-July 1944 with the 28th Infantry Division and would fight their way through France, into Belgium and on to Luxembourg. In mid-November the Troop arrived into Eschweiler, Luxembourg, their home for the next month.

 

Because of his ease with language, George more than any of the other soldiers, endeared himself to the people of the small farming town. Together they shared meals, church services, hopes and dreams. Then on December 16th, 1944, the Germans launched a surprise attack in the Ardennes Forest. The Battle of the Bulge was underway. By mid-afternoon on December 18th, the German attack had pushed deep into Luxembourg, and Eschweiler was nearly surrounded. The Recon Troop held the town as long as possible before pulling out. Just a mile outside of town, their convoy drove into a German ambush. Pinned down on the narrow, treelined road, death or capture were their only options. Realizing their desperate situation, George sprang to action. Showing no regard for his personal safety, George jumped into the back of a jeep, manned a .50-caliber machine gun and provided enough covering fire for the rest of the Recon Troop soldiers to make their escape. Seconds later the machine gun jammed. As George tried to clear the breach, German bullets cut him down. George’s selfless and heroic actions that day allowed the rest of the Recon Troop to survive not only that ambush but the war.

 

Madam Speaker, George Mergenthaler made the ultimate sacrifice that day so that others could live in peace. I would like to thank this body for posthumously recognizing George Mergenthaler, a true American hero.

 

 

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