George Mergenthaler, the grandson of the inventor of the Linotype, was an only child and at the time of his birth in 1920, became the sole male heir to the family fortune. Tall, handsome, Ivy League educated, speaking fluent German and French, "MERG" as he was known to his friends, did what many in his generation did following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor: he enlisted in the Army.
Insisting on serving as a buck-private, George was assigned to a Recon Troop that would see action after the D-Day invasion in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. Following the horrific fighting in the Huertgen forest, the 28th Cavalry Recon Troop was sent west for R&R, to a small farming village in Luxembourg called Eschweiler.
For the next month the Recon Troop soldiers lived amongst the townspeople, sharing their homes, meals, hopes and dreams. A devout Catholic, George spent much of his free time in the town's small church, St. Mauritius, chatting and getting to know the local priest. Quickly, the two bonded, sharing a friendship not unlike that of long-lost brothers.
In mid-December however, their peaceful stay in Eschweiler was shattered by the Battle of the Bulge. Nearly surrounded by the enemy, the Recon Troop soldiers were forced to retreat from the town. Dodging enemy fire, their convoy drove down a winding road, towards the cover of nearby woods. Rounding a corner they were ambushed by the spearhead of the German advance in that sector. Pinned down, with capture or death seeming their only options, George jumped into the command jeep and manned a .50-cal machine gun, proving how exceptional he truly was.