ENS Howard Deal Merrill


ENS Howard Deal Merrill

In one of his final letters home, Howard Deal Merrill wrote, “The salt water is certainly getting into my blood. I’ve never been happier than when I am at sea.”

A shipmate on the U.S.S. Arizona later said that Mr. Merrill was such a good swimmer that he frequently swam out of sight of companions.

He was born Dec. 16, 1917 in Provo, Utah. His mother, Eliza Dottie, died a month later. His father, Leslie, a doctor, remarried when the boy was three.

Mr. Merrill graduated from Ogden High School, then attended Weber College, now Weber State University, in 1935-36. He was then appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, graduating on June 6, 1940, and commissioned as an ensign.

The academy’s yearbook, The Lucky Bag, wrote this of him: “Howard was one westerner who really didn’t have to go far away to taste salt water. Plebe summer and plebe year were easy for him because he learned quickly that the Commandant’s cat ranked above a plebe. He was a confirmed “Red Mike,” for he found interest in things that never disturbed one’s sleep or studies; he is one of the gifted few that know what to leave alone. Academics were just an easy hurdle to him, with a view of better things yet to come. Hailing from the Rockies, he brought a little of their ruggedness and determination with him. Once Ute makes up his mind, not even dynamite can change it.”

He was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. 

A destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Merrill, was launched in August 1943 in Houston. His sister Dorothy was its sponsor.

American Legion Post 9 in Ogden is named Baker-Merrill in honor of Mr. Merrill and another local man, Herman Baker, who died in World War I.


Sources: The Salt Lake City Tribune; the Ogden Standard-Examiner; Weber College newspaper, the Signpost; 1940 Naval Academy yearbook; mother’s death certificate; application for military headstone or grave marker. Naval Academy photograph. This profile was researched and written on behalf of the U.S.S. Arizona Mall Memorial at the University of Arizona.

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