Mullin Announces Purple Heart Transfer Ceremony on Veterans Day
MUSKOGEE – Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) today announced a Purple Heart transfer ceremony will be held at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, November 11, in the gym at Stilwell High School. The public is invited to attend the ceremony, which will also feature involvement from Stilwell students.
The Purple Heart was awarded to the family of Clarence Marcus Merriott, a Stilwell High School graduate, who entered the U.S. Army in 1943 and was sent to the war in Europe. In the ceremony, the medal will be transferred to the possession of the Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association.
PFC Clarence Merriott was a member of the 300th Combat Engineers Headquarters and Service, which was the administration, supply, operations, intelligence and reconnaissance arm of the battalion which served in Europe from June 1944 to May 1945.
Another member of the 300th Engineers is Kenneth “Cowboy” Morris, the grandfather of Congressman Mullin. Morris is also a resident of Adair County and served in Europe during World War II.
Merriott and other members of the 300th Engineers, were aboard Landing Ship Tank (LST) 523 on June 19, 1944 when it struck a mine in the English Channel less than five miles off the coast of France where they were preparing to land on Utah Beach.
The mine’s explosion pierced through the ship, ripping it apart along a bulkhead across the forward portion of the mess hall and officer’s quarters, according to eyewitness reports. Merriott and many other soldiers perished that day.
The Purple Heart medal was sent to Merriott’s family in Stilwell, but somehow over the years, the medal got lost.
In 2013, Vietnam Veteran Matthew Carlson was at a swap meet and flea market in Glendale, Arizona when he found a Purple Heart medal for sale by a vendor. Carlson purchased the medal for $20 and with the help of his son, found the website of the 300th Combat Engineers. The site is maintained by Brad and Jan Peters of Erving, Massachusetts.
Carlson contacted the Peters and mailed the medal to them so the Peters could ensure it ended up in the right place.
Mullin’s grandfather, Morris, travelled in early October to the 300th Combat Engineers’ annual reunion. At the reunion, the Purple Heart was entrusted to Morris, on behalf of the Engineers, to be given to the Adair County Historical and Genealogical Association. Merriott family members have also expressed their desire to see the medal donated and displayed in the museum.
Mullin and his grandfather will make the formal presentation during the ceremony.
After the Veterans Day ceremony, the medal will be displayed in the Adair County Historical Association’s museum in Stilwell. Merriott’s name is also inscribed on the Adair County War Memorial that is near the county courthouse in Stilwell.