Hero of the Week: Sgt. Merlin German

Updated: April 17, 2008

germanThe IED did exactly what it was supposed to do.

As has happened so many times to our troops on America’s current battlefields the turret gunner, then LCpl. Merlin German, paid the price. Third degree burns covered 97% of his body – to put that in perspective three percent of the human body’s surface area is roughly the bottoms of your feet and the very top of your head. He was immediately flown to Brooke Army Medical Center, but no one thought he was going to survive. At Brooke, Doctors pegged Sgt. German’s chance at survival on par with the places on his body that weren’t burned – a mere 3%. But as so many of us who have served shoulder to shoulder with the Corps know, 3% are stellar odds for a United States Marine.

He proved the doctors wrong and spent 17 months in rehabilitation learning to walk again. During his time in the hospital he had to deal with over 100, and depending on which account you read – as many as 150, horrifically painful surgeries to attempt to fix the damage done by the IED.

Through it all he never gave up. He was a one-man assault on convention and the pundits of the world who love to try and tell you what it is that you can and can’t do.

When the loss of his fingers prevented him from pursing his passion of playing the saxophone, he simply found a new one by forming Merlin’s Miracles, a charity to help young children that were victims of the same type of burns and injuries he suffered. During his time in rehab the Marine Corps promoted him twice, to the rank of Sergeant, meritoriously. Throughout his fight he was dubbed the “Miracle Marine.” Now, however, it is with great sadness that those of us here at Ranger Up have to inform you that Sgt. Merlin German has passed away. He was 22 years old.

For three years, one month, and 22 days he battled. In that time he absolutely refused to give up, inspiring everyone he came across. Even in the hospital he was known for his quick wit and desire to put a smile on the faces of his fellow wounded vets. When so many of us would have slipped into despair and felt sorry for ourselves, all Sgt. Merlin German could do was think of others in a similar situation and try to help or comfort them, even if it involved making fun of himself. So respected was Sgt. German that when the Govenator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, out in California found out that Sgt. German died he ordered all the flags at the Capitol building to be flow at half-staff in tribute to his heroism, patriotism and valor – even though Sgt. German was born and raised in New York City.

“Sometimes I do think I can’t do it,” Sgt. German said in an interview last year. “Then I think: Why not? I can do whatever I want. … Nobody has ever been 97 percent dead and survived, and lived to walk.”

It is men and women like Sgt. Merlin German that make us proud to be Americans and proud to live in such a great country. God speed and God bless Marine. We only hope we’re worthy and privileged enough to see you on the other side.

Copyright of Tommy




  1. Pingback: Hero of the Week: All Content | The Rhino Den - Military Stories, News, MMA Features, Tim Kennedy

  2. Marquita Hain

    May 21, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Sgt German is a true hero. What a bright and beautiful spirit. I am deeply humbled by his strength and indomitable spirit.
    Thank you Sgt German. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. mindy1

    August 26, 2009 at 8:53 am

    :'( RIP

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