Making History Project
"Preserving Veterans' Stories"
501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization

Oral History Archive

In Tribute: Rock Merritt – A life well-lived.

On March 10, 2021, we all lost a legend. Rock Merritt was a World War II Paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne. Rock was one of my heroes and was also my first oral history interview.

Paratrooper Rock Merritt, 1944

Rock Merritt was an inaugural member of the All American Hall of Fame for the 82nd Airborne. To put that into perspective, Rock was one of twenty members inducted and his class included eight legendary Generals. Rock jumped on D-Day as one of the first boots on the ground in Normandy. Rock also jumped during Operation Market Garden and participated in the Battle of the Bulge. Photos from his long and distinguished military career can be viewed here.

My first oral history interview was with Rock Merritt on June 5, 2014 at La Fiere, Normandy, France during the 70th Anniversary for D-Day.

Rock Merritt served his country in World War II, Vietnam, and right to the end. Rock was mentioned prominently during President Obama’s address during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. He once famously told President Obama that he only need make the call as Rock was ready to serve when needed. Rock was bigger than life. Beloved at Fort Bragg and respected by our current soldiers as a soldier’s soldier.

Rock was a caring and kind soul who gave everything to his country. He impacted so many lives with his advice, knowledge, and smile. Forever a member of the Greatest Generation. Fly high Rock. Salute.

Happy Birthday Rock Merritt!

Rock MerrittAugust 10, 2018, is the 95th birthday for Kenneth “Rock” Merritt.

Rock Merritt is a true hero having jumped into Normandy, France on D-Day as a member of the 82nd Airborne.

One of my first oral history interviews was with Rock at a picnic table in La Fiere during the 70th Anniversary for the D-Day landings.

To this day, Rock is an authoritative voice on the history of the 82nd Airborne, 508 P.I.R., and all things related to the Normandy campaign. Rock Merritt rose to be a Command Sergeant Major in the Army and served his country in Vietnam as well.

For all of his accomplishments, Rock was enshrined as one of the original members for the All American Hall of Fame for the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Gracious with his time and an inspiration to current paratroopers, I consider Rock to be a Great American and a true friend.

Happy Birthday…Command Sergeant Major!

Annual Board Meeting

Annual Board MeetingWe held our annual board meeting this month. Prominent in our discussion was the project work for the past year related to the National Endowment for the Humanities grant on War and Trauma at Governor’s State University. Below, you will find one of the public outcomes of the grant, a televised town hall meeting between students and veterans on the topic of combat trauma.

Another milestone this year was attendance at the 82nd Airborne reunion in Fort Bragg for the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment. For the first time, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Panama veterans mingled with our current paratroopers and shared their experiences. Three additional oral history interviews of veterans were obtained at the reunion as well as the making of some new friends.

Finally, future goals for the upcoming year were set. First and foremost was the need to obtain more help, specifically from students and volunteers to assist with the editing of interviews. Additional opportunities exist for student interns to help with marketing, social media, and website updates. Other ideas were proposed for some formal fundraising initiatives, all of which are needed for the long-term growth of the project. Those interested in helping are encouraged to contact us.