Merlano, Louis Philip “Lou”.

Back to all people

- Medals

united statesAirbornePurple Heart

Merlano, Louis Philip “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 D-Day, his first war experience, Lou was one of the few paratroopers who talked to General Dwight “Ike” 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 Winters)

   With heavy fighting’s till end October, the 101st Airborne Division with commander General Maxwell Davenport Taylor, 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, close to very cold Bastogne, could, in spite of three injuries, return home with three Purple Hearts and a the Bronze Star. The casualties of the 101st Airborne Division during their campaign in Europe; In Normandy, killed/died of wounds 868, wounded in action 2.303, missing/captured 665. In Holland killed 752, wounded 2.151 and missing 398. In the battle of the Bulge in Belgium, killed 482, wounded 2.449 and missing 527, in total killed 2.043, wounded 2.782 and missed 1590. Lou 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. Lou Merlano, Bucks County resident for 21 years, served the community as Chairman of the Board of the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors from 1966 – 1972. Lou also served as the Athletic Director of the CYO program at the Queen of the Universe School. Lou’s friends and family have established a permanent Scholarship Fund that benefits students from the local schools. Each year the advisory board selects one student from each school to receive a college scholarship. The recipient must demonstrate strong leadership, academic success, athletic ability and community service.

Death and burial ground Merlano, Louis Philip “Lou”.

  Corporal Louis Merlano, three Purple Hearts, who gave me a piece of his original D-Day parachute

057, 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.

Jane Catherine Merlano,  a great woman, died 02-01-2021, age 97 and we loved her.


Above Lou with Cornelius Ryan and McAuliffe.        Lou with Mark Bando, 101 AB historian.


Message(s), tips or interesting graves for the webmaster:



Share on :



  1. Christopher A Kule


    Younger brother Ron and I played peewee football for Coach Merlano at QU. We went undefeated the first year and undefeated the regular season the second year. We traveled to York, PA to play our first away game, and they whipped us 28-0.
    I played against my future Yale teammate Tip Himes, who played guard for the Yankees.
    So many great players took their first steps toward maturity playing for/against guys who jumped on D-day.
    The years between 1945 and 1965 were football’s golden age.

    • Rob Hopmans


      Thanks younger brother and Ron for this mail. I had the luck to meet Lou Merlano, as a fanatic WW2 interested, and Lou had to cancel his trip to the Netherlands, for the fiftieth rememberance festivities, becose of his lung problems.

      In Florida we met a great guy, and family, and had the time of our live with all his war stories. Be glad and proud to have learn from him.

      With greatings from Holland, two days before the remeberance of D-Day.

      All best Rob Hopmans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *