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Merrick H. Truly  1931

Cullum No. 9308-1931 | 1/29/1977 | Died in San Antonio, TX
Interred in National Cemetery, Fort Sam Houston, TX

 


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In the 1760s an indomitable widow, Sarah Truly, from Amelia County, Virginia, moved her household of seven children, three brothers, and an unspecified number of slaves to the Natchez District while it was still a Province of Spain. She settled on a grant of land near the present town of Fayette, Mississippi, an area which subsequently became known as Truly&rsquo;s Flats.</div>
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Well over a century later, on the 29th of November 1907, Judge and Mrs. Jeff Truly, the leading citizens of Fayette, welcomed into the world a son whom they christened <em>Merrick Hector</em>. With his background of staunch pioneer heritage and southern aristocracy it was predestined that he would follow the path of Jefferson Davis and other distinguished Mississippians who graduated from West Point.</div>
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Upon graduation from the Gulf Coast Military Academy Hector received a Congressional appointment for the United States Military Academy. Entering the Military Academy in July of 1926 he immediately began to accumulate a host of military friends, which never ceased to grow throughout his career. Classmates recall him as &quot;a genius without a single enemy in the whole world&rdquo; and always comment on his &quot;pleasant and cheerful personality under every condition.&quot; Some remember best his ability to inspire others and dissipate their worries. Unfortunately, the Math Department was immune to his charisma, and he dropped back to become a member of the Class of 1931&mdash;a positive gain for that class.</div>
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Upon graduation in June of 1931 Hector was assigned to the 23d Infantry at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. A few months as an Infantry platoon leader in the heat and dust of Texas convinced him that a career in the wild blue yonder was exactly what he wanted. In 1932 he was detailed to the Air Corps and reported to Randolph Field for primary flight training. Upon successful completion he was shifted to Kelly Field for advanced flying training. Having qualified as an attack pilot he was transferred to the Air Corps with station at Fort Crockett, Texas. Three years was sufficient to dissipate some of the more romantic notions of life in the air, and at his own request, he was transferred to the Infantry. Again, he reported to the 23d Infantry at Fort Sam Houston.</div>
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While on his initial tour of duty with the 23d Infantry he had met, wooed, and married a charming &quot;daughter of the regiment,&rdquo; Mildred Lynch. They were joined in matrimony on 20 February 1932. From this happy and lasting union came a daughter, Jeanne, and a son, Merrick Jr. Jeanne is now the wife of Colonel Thomas Davis and the mother of four fine Truly grandchildren. Merrick Jr. has added a charming granddaughter to the list of grandchildren.</div>
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Upon completion of the course at The Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia, and after a tour at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, the Trulys embarked in April 1939 for Manila, Philippine Islands, where Hector was assigned to the 31st Infantry. He was one of the lucky few whose tours were completed in time to allow his return to the United States in October of 1941.</div>
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In World War II, Hector was selected as Executive Officer of the 23d Headquarters Special Troops, which was a unit with the mission of deception. It was the only unit of its kind. There were no manuals on doctrine, principles, nor scope of operations. Hector was admirably suited for such assignment by his initiative, boldness, innovativeness, imagination, and uncanny concepts of what our units under combat conditions in the neld would look like to German intelligence.</div>
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Hector accompanied the major portion of his unit to England where other elements joined. He remained with the 23d Headquarters Special Troops during the entire European War (5 campaigns) and brought the unit back to the United States where it was disbanded.</div>
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One of his key staff officers states that &quot;Hector, more than any other individual, was the person most directly responsible for successful operations of his unit.&rsquo;</div>
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His superb leadership was ever present in molding concepts. His administrative and organizational abilities conquered seemingly impossible tasks. The tougher operations became, the more Hector&rsquo;s humor, charm, and cheerfulness were evident. He was at his best under stress.</div>
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His contacts and the respect he enjoyed among his contemporaries in the combat divisions in action made possible many deception operations designed to assist those units in their battle missions&mdash;he saved lives.</div>
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His infectious good humor was a wonderful asset in handling situations where deception operations also fooled our own troops. Some officers returning to their own units and finding a fictional force when their real unit was miles away were more than a little chagrinned to find themselves duped. Hector seemed at his best in handling and pacifying such individuals.</div>
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Deception missions naturally are not publicizcd&mdash;nor should they be. A quiet and silent assist to combat units in battle insures success to those units. Approximately some 37 successful deception operations attest to Hector&rsquo;s abilities.</div>
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Hector contributed in an outstanding manner to successful wartime operations demonstrating his leadership abilities in the highest tradition of Duty, Honor, Country.</div>
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With his unique background as a successful combat deception officer which required extensive knowledge of enemy intentions and capabilities, it seems only natural that the major portion of his service between the end of World War II and retirement should be spent in intelligence and counterintelligence assignments at Army level commands. For these he was commended often by his commanding generals.</div>
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Subsequent to retirement in 1961, Hector and Mildred devoted themselves to their home in San Antonio and traveling both here and abroad. His health was generally good so his sudden heart attack on 29 January 1977 came as a real shock to Mildred and to his many friends.</div>
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It can be said that Hector was truly an officer and gentleman&mdash;an officer by training and a gentleman by heritage and instinct. An honorable addition to the Long Gray Line. Well done, Hector.</div>
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