From: Gerald F. Merna
To: David T. Feliciano
Cc: Antonacci, John J
Sent: Friday, May 07, 2004 2:54 AM
Subject: The Quietest, Strongest Marine Hero I Knew.

Hi David:
I've seen your web site thanks to John Antonacci telling me about it.

No, neither Don Lupo nor Alex were House's Kids like we were. You know about Don, but Alex is a young friend whose Dad was a Navy Corpsman.

You certainly can post the story, as you did, as well as my email address. But I'm curious as to how you got it?

In a few days I'm hoping John Antonacci will have something to send you to post about his brother Donald that I'm still working on for him. I think the St. Agnes crowd will be very pleased with it.

Keep up the excellent work.

Semper Fi, Jerry Merna
1944 - 1946, St. Agnes
Went AWOL from "The House" to join the Corps,
and 22 years later I retired, still "looking over my shoulder"
to see if fellow Marine Jim Faulk was chasing me!

From: Gerald F. Merna
To: David T. Feliciano
Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 2:30 PM
Subject: Bio

Hi David:

You asked for a copy of my Biography. Attached is the last one the prepared by the Public Affairs office when I retired on 3 July 1998 from the National Defense Industrial Association in Arlington, VA. Don't know if it will come through clear enough for you, if not, let me know and I'll mail you a copy.

Can't believe that was almost six years ago; all the info has to have that many years added to it. Dot and I were married 47 years then, it's 53 now. Also, after retiring from NDIA I had my own business, MERNA & ASSOCIATES, CONSULTANTS, for another three years, before finally hanging it all up in 2001.

I'm 74 now going on 54, and both physically and mentally able to continue working if I wanted to. But hey, counting all the "bean picking" I did while at the "House," caddying double bags for 36 holes at the Rockland Country Club, and cutting grass and cleaning out basements on Route 9W and all over Piermont and Sparkill for fifty cents an hour, I think it's time to hang it all up. Not to mention how nice it is to have all this time with Dot after so many busy years.

Again David, you are doing a wonderful job with the St. Agnes Web Site. It was long overdue, and it took someone like you to make it happen. It will only get better, and will serve as a legacy to our children and their children's children one day. Paraphrasing Gen. McArthur's famous adage, "Old 'House's Kids' never die, they just fade away," applies as well to most of our generation of St. Agnes' Nuns, Priests, Coaches, Counselors and former "residents" are slowly but surely passing from the scene. It was a helluva ride though!

Regards to all.

Jerry Merna

Gerald F. Merna
1stLt USMC (Ret.)
Potomac Falls, VA

From: Gerald F. Merna
To: David T. Feliciano
Sent: Wednesday, May 12, 2004 2:34 AM
Subject: Re: Bio

Hi David,

Ironically after you asked for a better formatted bio in Word, I had just finished doing so and was getting it ready to send to you when I found and opened this email from you. Though the one you used is a tad blurry, it still is easily readable and looks good to me. Thanks for including it. I'll attach the one I just finished anyway just for your info.

I just took another look at your web site and noticed there is a dearth of bio's, in fact, including yours and mine, I only counted six! It's a shame more of the guys aren't sending their's in. Perhaps you could ask to put a short notice in the next St. Agnes Newsletter saying something like this:

"If you haven't seen or visited the relatively new St. Agnes web site "House Kids @ Home..." (http://www.StAgnesAlumni.org) you might want to take a look and make sure you are included on it. David Feliciano has done a great job in getting this up and started, and welcomes contributions from everyone, and especially encourages you to submit your biographies."

Your bio was most interesting also David, and I saw many similarities between your family and mine. We were all from New York City for starters. I especially took note of your large family, nine brothers and two sisters, with seven brothers and one sister who "served their time" at either St. Agnes or St. Dominic's. Our parents originally had ten children, three of whom died before I was born, and there were six Merna brothers and one sister who were at both convents as well. Perhaps you or your brothers knew some of my brothers, and your sister Naomi may have known my sister Vivian at St. Dominic's?

Big families were quite common at both St. Dominic's and St. Agnes, the Antonacci's had five, I think the Feldman's had five, and I know there were quite a few other similar sized families, whose names I can't recall at the moment. Your athletic abilities are quite impressive also, both at St. Agnes where you excelled in football and baseball and other sports, and even today. I grew quite weary reading of all the Marathon's you've completed, and one coming up this November as well. You are quite the athlete! (I was never big enough at the Convents to do much in sports, but early in my Marine Corps career I was on both the boxing and wrestling teams at Quantico). Our daughter Linda ran the Marine Marathon in D.C. a couple of years ago and made us very proud. You also are very successful with your IT career. It's just amazing how many "Houses' Kids" had such great careers after such rocky starts in life. I guess that's why I have little patience for some of today's "whiners" who never had it so good!

Again, I'm sure there are many like me who appreciate the time time and effort you continue to put into improving and maintaining the web site. It's a lot of work, and takes a lot of time.

We'll keep in touch.

Jerry Merna

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To: David T. Feliciano
Cc: John Antonacci; Joseph Antonacci; Ralph Antonacci; Louis Reyes; Jack Monnier;
Walter Rooney
Sent: Thursday, June 30, 2005 3:20 AM


..... As indicated in the explanation for the "Military Awards" article, when I wrote it for "Fake Warriors" it was not intended to be a "political issue." Someone named "PhilDragoo" (who I did not know then or now), put this article on the "Free Republic" website and as you'll also see, it was picked up across the country as a political attack against then Presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry. It continues to draw interest.

FakeWarriors.com | Thursday, February 05, 2004 | Gerald F. Merna, 1st Lt, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired).
Posted on 02/07/2004 4:02:03 PM PST by PhilDragoo

Merna, a former Marine Division Awards Officer who regularly visited front-line units in combat in Vietnam, gives his views on whether or not personal awards criteria is being met. Written as an authoritative non-political treatise, after one reader posted his systematic analysis on a web site, many used it to discuss their pro and con opinions about the participants in the 2004 presidential election. An authoritative article with examples, definitions and references included. FreeRepublic.com

Check out this look back at the movie, "Flying Leathernecks." (Click on each of the four snapshot pictures to enlarge them). Then read through all our other Marine Corps stories. Semper Fi Sgt Grit. www.grunt.com/ Online Catalog - Sgt Grit Home - Web Services
First dual MOH awardees for Marines since the Korean War, by Gerald F. Merna February 15, 2002

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Two Letters By Gerald F. Merna
as Posted on
USMC Marine Newsletter Archives
February 15, 2002

DUAL MOH....................................................

Sgt. Grit:
I read with interest Freddie Cooper's article in your 2 Feb02 Newsletter, referring to LtCol. Robert J. Modrzejewski III, Medal of Honor (MOH) awardee, as one of his inspirational guiding icons. This mention brought back memories of my experiences in Vietnam with then Captain Modrzejewski when I was a 36 year old Mustang Second Lieutenant (former Master Gunnery
Sgt.) and Asst. Division Adjutant and/Awards Officer of the Third Marine Division in Vietnam. I had the privilege to be tasked with investigating and verifying then Captain Modrzejewski's MOH citation. I simultaneously worked on a second MOH recommendation for then SSgt. John J. McGinty. Their MOH recommendations were for the same actions that took place during Operation Hastings in Quang Tri Province, in mid July of 1966.

Captain Modrzejewski and SSgt. McGinty, members of K Co, 3rdBn, 4th Marines during Operations Hastings, fought during one of the largest operations at that time in the Vietnam War. Throughout the course of four days of fierce fighting in rugged jungle mountain terrain very close to the DMZ, their company killed over 200 of the enemy, captured large numbers of their weapons and large quantities of medical supplies. McGinty estimated that his platoon killed at least 150 North Vietnamese, with one squad alone accounting for 35 to 40 of them, and was quoted as saying "We certainly messed them up beautifully." Captain Modrzejewski, finally reduced to firing only his .45 caliber pistol, remarked that "It's not too often that we have to requisition .45 cal. pistol ammunition." Both officers were also wounded during this Operation.

Modrzejewski and McGinty were the first dual MOH awardees for Marines since the Korean War (where I served as an ATA Section Leader with WpnsCo-1stBn-5thMarines and later as a Platoon Sergeant with EasyCo-2ndBn-5thMarines on OP Vegas).

I returned to the U.S. in 1967, and on March 12, 1968 was invited to the White House when then President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Medals of Honor to these two heroes. In the cherished picture I later received, I am shown shaking hands with the President as then Second Lieutenant McGinty and Major Modrzejewski are standing on my right wearing their new MOH's. The Marine pictured in front of me in the receiving line was 1stLt. Chapman, son of then Marine Commandant Leonard F. Chapman. The lady behind me in the receiving line was Mrs. Chapman.

I heartily concur with Freddie Coopers' characterization of LtCol.. Modrzejewski. Anyone who receives our nations highest award for bravery that can be given to any individual is certainly worthy of being a role model for anyone. I was also pleased Cooper brought these memories back to me.

Semper Fi.

Gerald F. (Jerry) Merna 1stLt., USMC (Ret.)

VISIT TO PARRIS ISLAND..............................................

Sgt. Grit:
Reading your latest Newsletter and the stories about boot camp prompts this report on my recent visit to Parris Island, SC.

Last week my wife and I were on our way home to Virginia from Florida when we made an unexpected visit (January 29th, 2002) to Parris Island. My wife had never been there, and I had not been back in 55 years, when I went through boot camp with Platoon 47 in April 1947. While my wife thoroughly enjoyed her visit, to say that I was thrilled to be there and see only some of the many "changes" is no small exaggeration.

As we toured the base taking many pictures we were so proud of the soon-to-be Marines we witnessed going through various phases of training to earn their Eagle, Globe, and Anchor. From the Marines at the main gate to the Marines at the Reception Center, their appearance, courtesy and knowledge were outstanding. Seeing the current Drill Instructors in action was a sight to behold -- they do such a superb job and all appeared as we would expect them to, trim, lean and professional. I wanted to stay longer, but time did not permit doing so.

I thought back to the many recruits that I sent to this famous training ground during my 22+ years in the Corps while on two tours of recruiting duty (New York City & Nyack (Rockland County) New York 1950-1952) and Owensboro, Kentucky (1956 - 1960). My memories also went back to how and why I became a Parris Island recruit so many years ago.

My Uncle Eddie Haiduk was a tough WWII Marine who saw extensive combat in the South Pacific. He told me his nickname was "Sgt. Zippers" because he was "busted" so many times during his time that they found it easier to put his stripes on with a zipper since they took them away from him so often. Of course he was exaggerating, because his service was exceptional. But when I told him I was going to join the Marines (I was, then barely 5'3" and 118 pounds soaking wet), he told me I "wouldn't make a pimple on a Marine's A**." (How many times have Marines heard or used this phrase?)

While I later learned that he only said this to challenge me to do what I said I would, I surely did not disappoint him when on my 17th birthday I began my Marine Corps career. (The Corps successfully later “stretched” me several inches and added some 30 pounds, must have been the chow!).

When I made Sergeant in 1949,I thought my Uncle could never have been more proud of me--he thought I "walked on water." I also remember a valuable “lesson” he taught me in a New York City bar where he brought me about a year after boot camp to “show me off” to his buddies. After he bought a couple of rounds (my money was no good there) the bartender told us to “drink up, the next round is on the house.” I told the bartender "no thanks, I had enough." As the bartender walked away, my Uncle grasped my arm and said “you never turn down a drink when the house is buying!” Needless to say, we got that “free” drink and this then 18 year old Marine never forgot his former Marine Uncle’s admonition!

I would then go on to serve in all the enlisted grades, culminating in my promotion to Master Gunnery Sergeant.. When I was commissioned Second Lieutenant in 1966, Uncle Ed's admiration grew a thousand fold and he thought I was the one who made the waters part. ( Before he died in a VA Hospital he told me he always regretted not staying in the Corps, and lived his missed experiences through my career.)

After service in Korea (First Marine Division, 1952-1953) and Vietnam (Third Marine Division, 1966-1967) I retired in October 1968 as a Mustang First Lieutenant. I am very proud that two of my brothers, James and Richard, also became Marines, also going through Parris Island's boot camp, and both also served in Korea. Jim and I served in the 5th Marines at the same time. Jim’s son John, my nephew, is a Marine Major teaching at the Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico. Another brother joined the Navy and also served in Korea. (Our oldest brother was killed in action in WWII when a Japanese submarine sunk his LST-577 in the South Pacific in 1945).

If my fellow Marines haven't been back to Parris Island (or San Diego) since they completed boot camp, I heartily recommend they don't wait 55 years to do so. I was lucky I got this second opportunity.

Semper Fidelis.

1stLt. Gerald F. Merna, USMC (Ret.)

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From: Gerald F. Merna
To: David Feliciano
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 2:11 AM
Subject: Patron Saints

Hi David:

Did you notice that in my Golden Jubilee Remarks (July 4th 2005 Web News) I included a "picture" of our “Patron Saint, St. Agnes” on page one?


I did that because I couldn't recall ever seeing a picture of her either while at St. Agnes or in any communications to us for the past 50 – 60 years, though no doubt there were a few pictures scattered somewhere on the premises of St. Agnes Convent that being 75 now I just can't recollect. That fact and having just read your brothers' Peter and Carlos' humorous but true-life stories, "St Agnes, The First Day (We Ran)" and "The Great "Escape" (http://www.stagnesalumni.org/StoriesTheGreatEscape.shtml) my curiosity got the

better of me so I decided to "check out" whom St. Agnes was.

Using the internet, you can imagine my surprise (shock?) learning St. Agnes is the Patron Saint of Young Girls! Yes, G -I -R- L- S, Girls! And though I recently learned that at one time, many years ago, there indeed were a "few" "G -I -R- L- S," at St. Agnes, no one I ever knew associated “St. Agnes” with anyone but "B-O-Y-S,” or, as in our case, as "House's Kids." (St. Dominic's and St. Agatha's did house girls for years). A brief but very interesting biography on St. Agnes is attached.

So I searched some more looking for any Saint that we could perhaps better relate to and lo and behold, there indeed is such a Saint, and he turns out to be St. Jerome Emiliani. I have to be honest and say that until now I never heard of him; St. Jerome, sure, but St. Jerome Emiliani?

What interested me most about him was his background and the reason for his sainthood that immediately brought me back to Carlos' disconcerting directness where he said in his story that "St. Agnes, to me, was like a prison. Everyone looked the same."

Ironically, St. Jerome was in Prison and a real Prisoner! As you will see from his attached biography, he was a "careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice and was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon...where he learned to pray." It was years after his ordination that he began "caring for the sick and the poor, (and) resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital." He is officially called the Patron Saint of Orphaned and Abandoned Children. That's us, David, your family, mine, and the thousand’s of kid’s that passed through the halls of St. Agnes for so many years. Carlos was relating to him all this time but just didn't know it!

So this fellow is more like it, and my kind of guy! Remember, the name St. Agnes equates to "G-I-R-L-S," and that name was literally "seared" into all us House's Kids who spent so many years under the care of Dominican Nuns in a "Home" named after St. Agnes. I guess we can always claim that name was for the Nuns, while St. Jerome is the guy for the rest of us! (I seem to recall there was indeed a St. Jerome's in the Bronx that also cared for abandoned children?)

Thought you'd enjoy this.

Warm Regards,

Jerry Merna

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From: Gerald F. Merna
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2005 4:22 PM
Subject: The Definition of Semper Fidelis

The picture saddens your heart, the words bring on tears, and the "message" defines:

Gerald F. Merna

From: Thomas J. Pentecost
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2005 9:53 AM
Subject: The Definition of Semper Fidelis

A new Recruit asked an old Warrior, “What is War like?” The old timer replied,
“A bunch of us went down to Gettysburg one day, a lot of people died. If you weren’t there you wouldn’t understand.”

Author Unknown.

These Marines were part of 2nd Plt, Btry L(Lima), of 3/11...they spent 7.5 months as the personal security detail for the asst Div Cdr, conducting all manner of security escort and security operations all over Iraq as subset of all the various windows 3/11 did...if you saw the article Taking Chance by LtCo Mike Strobl who escorted a fallen Marine home, this is the same Chance Phelps and you see Strobl's comments in this email chain...the Corporal on the left earned the Bronze Star w/V in the same engagement in which we lost Phelps, shot in both legs he continued the fight from his MG mount on his HMMWV... I think we had 16 purple hearts in this platoon of 40 men....amazing men whose actions here put a sharp point on Memorial Day....they adopted as a platoon motto these words from a contemporary movie ""A day may come when the courage of men fail. When we forsake all our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day!" We stick together." S/F
From: "Connally, Thomas J., COL, NAVWARCOL"


Sir, I hope you had a good holiday. I think I recognize a couple of these Lima lads.

r/s Mac

LtCol Lance A. McDaniel, USMC


The attached picture is from Memorial Day. These Marines of 3d Bn, 11th Marines had a long weekend and could've gone to the beach, home to visit their families, or anywhere else they wanted.

What they did was drive 1,000 miles from 29 Palms, California to Dubois, Wyoming to stand in the snow and pay respects to LCpl Chance Phelps and his family. I know this gave the Phelps family great comfort and pride.

Semper, Mike

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