Louis Philip "Lou"
- Merlano, Louis Philip "Lou"
- Para 101 AB Division, 502 A C, Corporal. D-Day, Normandy,Operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge.He spoke to Eisenhower before D-Day.
A personal friend.
- 20-10-1923, New York.
- 24-06-2006, lung cancer, old age 82, Port St Lucy, Florida
Arlington, Virginia, USA. Section 64-Site 4940.
Merlano, Louis Philip "Lou"
Louis Philip Merlano, Big Lou, born on 20-10-1923, in New York, enlisted in the Army, 18 years old and became a paratrooper in the proud 101st Airborne Division. Big Lou was a corporal in the 502 A Company and shortly before the start of Operation Market Garden, his first war experience, Lou was one of the few paratroopers who talked to General Eisenhower (see Eisenhower). Ike encouraged the warriors before this uncertain historical event. On board Lou a tall man exchanged places with his small friend Louis Perko and came second in row of the glider on their way to Normandy. Near the coast of Normandy the glider was hit and a crash followed. The first man and Lou were the only two able to jump from the plane and landed on the beach, while the plane felt in the Channel. We, a few years ago, laid flowers on the graves of the comrade victims, on the Vierville American cemetery, in the name of the Merlano family, specially the grave of Perko. Lou Merlano got off the beach fast, ignoring mines. He climbed over a barbed-wire fence and ran for a hedgerow. Someone else was already there, Merlano didn't stop. He ran across a road and started to climb a stone wall. Just then he heard an agonized cry behind him. He whirled around, a flame thrower was hosing the hedgerow he had just passed and outlined in the flame was the figure of a fellow paratrooper. He kept hidden and only after three days met the first American warriors. Lou survived this battle and went back to England to recover with his Company. The next two operations he survived also, Operation Market Garden, the liberation of our little Holland, on 17-09-1944, were Lou landed near Eerde (see Dick Winter). With heavy fightings till end October, the 101st Airborne Division lost a lot of warriors. The second was the Battle of the Bulge and probably the most intensive, the last twitching of Hitler’s army and Lou could, in spite of three injuries, return home with three Purple Hearts and a the Bronze Star. He and his dear wife Jane got nine children and we had the luck to meet them in Florida and became friends.(see About) Because of his lung problems Louis couldn’t make it to Holland in 1994 for the fiftieth anniversary of Market Garden anymore, but still lived for 12 more years with his children and grandchildren. Corporal Louis Merlano, who gave me a piece of his original D-Day parachute, died of lung cancer on 24-06-2006, age 82 and found a proud resting place on the National Cemetery of Arlington, Section 64. We visited his grave in Mai 2010 and gave him our respect, a great, pleasant man.
Lou with Cornelius Ryan and McAuliffe. Lou with Mark Bando, 101 AB historian.