as a machine gunner and his unit was attacked by German forces in Belgium.
When his unit was overrun, Merli played dead, with his deceased friend on top of him and enemy soldiers jabbing him with bayonets to see if he, too, was dead. When the enemy passed, Merli stood and attacked, and ended up fooling the Germans not once but twice into believing he was dead and no longer a threat, only to attack them again. After many hours of horrific battle, Merli’s actions led to the Germans asking for a truce.
Merli, just 20 years old at the time, never left his gun or abandoned his post, resulting in his receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest U. S. military decoration. He also was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Battle of the Bulge Medal, and the Humanitarian Award of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains. A Veteran’s Center in Scranton now bears his name.
The play, Herring stated, “shows us what the servicemen in World War II went through. The servicemen of World War II are slowly ebbing away….For my students, it’s a good thing for them to see.”
“The Last Thoughts of Gino Merli” has been seen by over 36,000 people in regional schools and playhouses and has received rave reviews. “We hope the community will come out to support it,” concluded Herring.