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Merrick Hector Truly

LT COL in 23rd Headquarters Co


Born 1907 in MS, Died 1977

Other residence(s): Fayette, MS; San Antonio, TX; numerous military postings
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: military officer
College education before the war: West Point
Notes: Bronze Star; GO #1030, Sec II, Hq 9th Army, 9 Apr 45. Meritorious Service, Staff Officer (Ln O), Germany, 17 Mar-24 Mar 45; West Point class of 1931; final rank COL
Source: Roster of 23d HQ officers, from family of Oscar Seale; Awards and Decorations; West Point Graduates list from Cliff Simenson, 27 Dec 2002; photo from Ancestry® ca. 1940

Merrick Hector Truly was born on November 29, 1907 in Fayette, MS, the youngest of five children. His father was a lawyer by profession, and in his second term as a Mississippi Supreme Court Justice at the time Hector was born.

Courtesy Ancestry® (West Point 1931 yearbook)

He graduated from Gulf Coast Military Academy in Gulf Coast, MS in 1926 and from West Point in 1931. (He took an extra year at West Point because "unfortunately the Math Department was immune to his charisma.")

After graduation, he was assigned to the 23rd Infantry at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. On February 20, 1932 he married Mildred Lynch, the daughter of an officer on the post. Their first child, Jeanne, was born a year or so later, and a second child, Merrick Jr., in 1936.

In 1932 Hector switched his allegiance to the Army Air Corps, and was stationed at Randolph Field and Kelly Field (both near San Antonio). He qualified as an attack pilot and was sent to Fort Crockett, TX, where he remained until 1935 when he transferred back to the Infantry. During the years before the war he was stationed in several different US posts, as well as in the Philippines. and was promoted to the rank of MAJ in 1942 and LTC in 1943.

Colonel Truly became Executive Officer of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, and served in Europe with the unit. In Rick Beyer and Liz Sayles' book, The Ghost Army of World War II, the authors say that "the detailed plan [for Operation Viersen, the last, biggest, and best deception of the war] was largely the work of Lieutenant Colonel Merrick Truly, one of the Twenty-Third's staff officers." And a memorial to Colonel Truly that appeared in 1977 in Assembly, West Point's former alumni magazine, reported that "one of his key staff officers states that 'Hector, more than any other individual, was the person most directly responsible for successful operations of his unit.'" The article goes on to say that "his infectious good humor was a wonderful asset in handling situations where deception operations also fooled our own troops. . . . Hector seemed at his best in handling and pacifying such individuals."

After the war, most of his remaining Army service was spent in intelligence and counterintelligence assignments. He saw service in Panama, Korea, Hawaii, and California, but also spent some years at his "home" base of Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, TX. Fort Sam Houston served as 4th Army HQ, and he was there in 1953-55 as Chief of the operations branch of the training section, and Assistant Chief of Staff. Later he returned to San Antonio as Acting Deputy Chief of Staff, Administration, and then 4th Army Commandant before his retirement in July, 1961 with the rank of COL.

After his retirement, Hector and Mildred remained in San Antonio and traveled in the US and abroad. His sudden death from a heart attack, on January 29, 1977, came as a shock to his family and friends because his health had been generally good.

He is buried at Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, TX.


1910 census

1920 census

1931 West Point graduation photo in the Times-Picayune (LA)


1926 article in the Birmingham News (AL) about his high school graduation

1930 census

1931 San Antonio city directory

1932 marriage record

1933 article in San Antonio Express (TX) about his military career

1936 article in Norfolk Virginian-Pilot about his military career

1941 article in Alexandria Daily Town Talk (LA) about his military career

1945 Official History of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops

1948 US Select Military Registers

1950 census

1953 article in the San Antonio Light (TX) about his military career

1955 US Registry of Civil, Naval, and Military Service

1960 article in the San Antonio News (TX) about his move from CA to TX

1961 article in the San Antonio Light (TX) about his retirement

1977 VA death record

1977 Social Security death index*o2ev7y*_ga*MjEwMzA0MjU1OS4xNjc1NDc1NTA3*_ga_4QT8FMEX30*MTY3NTQ3NTUwNi4xLjEuMTY3NTQ3NTY4NS41OC4wLjA.*_ga_B2YGR3SSMB*Zjc5NWQxYTAtMjJjNS00MGNhLWIyZjAtOTE5MTJkOTZmZjZmLjQ1LjEuMTY3NTQ3NTY4Ny41Ni4wLjA.

1977 Find a Grave record

1977 death notice in San Antonio Express (TX)

1977 Texas death certificate

1977 article in the Fayette Chronicle (MS); reprinting a piece from Assembly, a quarterly publication of West Point, about Truly

1977 the original of the above piece from the West Point Association of Graduates

2015, Beyer & Sayles, The Ghost Army of World War II

406th Unit History

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