“I Got Involved In The Destruction Of The Third Reich, I Guess”: CSM Rock Merritt Discusses WWII And Meeting General Bradley

Kenneth Rock Merritt


Rock Merritt was born on August 10, 1923, in Warner, Oklahoma. On October 15, 1942, he joined the Army as a paratrooper because the mission and the extra $50 per month jump pay appealed to him. After training at Camp Blanding and Camp Mackall, he sailed to England for additional training in preparation for the D-Day operation. He jumped into France with the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, assembled a unit of 35 Soldiers and two Officers, and began looking for Germans to fight. After the Normandy operation, his unit returned to England for replacements and refitting before being alerted for Operation Market Garden. Market Garden, a daylight jump, was a better experience, even though the operation was ultimately unsuccessful. This time, the Regiment went to Soissons to refit, and were there when they were alerted for the Battle of the Bulge. At the end of the war, Rock’s platoon was stationed in Frankfurt as the Honor Guard for General Eisenhower. In this interview, Rock recalls his service in World War II, meeting General Bradley at the 1975 and 1977 AUSA Conference, his lifetime of service to the Army, and his love for Squad Leaders. His description of jumping into Normandy is both intense and enlightening. He highlights using the French liquor Calvados as anti-freeze for his water-cooled machine guns during the Battle of the Bulge. He concludes by describing what his service means to him.


conflicts World War II Vietnam War
topics Leadership Camaraderie Morale Teamwork D-Day Nazi Germany Military Techniques Liberating France Normandy
interviewer Wes Moerbe
date 11 February 2020


name Kenneth Rock Merritt
service Infantry
unit 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
specialty Command Sergeant Major
service dates 1942 1977