The greatest generation

  • Published
  • By 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
  • 944th Fighter Wing
In a recent TDY to Germany, Senior Master Sgt. Dave Merris, 944th Force Support Squadron first sergeant, took advantage of an opportunity to recreate history.

In 1945, at the end of World War II, his father, Tech. 2 Ted Merris, was part of the 303rd Engineer Combat Battalion which fell under the U.S. Army’s 78th Infantry Division in Germany. The Division saw action at the Battle of the Bulge.

During his time in Germany, Ted was photographed sitting on a bench in a park in the small town of Dillenburg.

“Ever since I can remember there was a picture of my dad in uniform sitting on a bench, hanging on the hall,” said Merris. “When my dad passed away I received the picture and it now hangs in my home.”

Merris came up with the idea to recreate the picture in the same town 72 years later while preparing for his TDY. It took some time to find the exact location since a lot has changed over the years.

“It seemed fitting that the last TDY of my 33-year military career was to Germany and that I would get a final opportunity to recreate the picture while I am still able to wear the uniform before retiring,” said Merris. “It is a tribute not only to my father, but to all those of the ‘Greatest Generation,’ who gave so much to ensure the freedoms that we all have today but sometimes take for granted.”

After the war, Ted joined the Foreign Service and served as a diplomat in Iran, South Africa, and Portugal before joining the Civil Service and retiring as a GS-15 after 30 years working for the Department of the Navy.

“He never really talked about his experiences during the war but it left a lasting impact on him,” concluded Merris.