ALEXANDRIA, VA, September 27, 2018 — Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Gerald Francis Merna with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Mr. Merna celebrates many years' experience in his professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled ae selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all considered during the selection process.
Mr. Merna was one of seven siblings, six brothers and one sister, who in 1942, were sent to live at St. Dominic's Convent in Blauvelt, NY, and the St Agnes Home and School for Boys in Sparkill, NY, after their parents abandoned them. All six boys attended Tappan Zee High School (TZHS) then located in Piermont, NY, and several of them, including Mr. Merna, followed in the steps of their oldest brother who joined the Navy in World War II and was killed in action at age 19, ran away to join the military while their sister was sent to a private school for girls in Goshen, NY. Brothers Gerald, James and Richard became Marines and Brothers George and Robert, Sailors. Their only Sister Vivian married a Marine. Their lives, from their time at St. Dominic's and St. Agnes to their military service, to where they are today, are thoroughly detailed through a story on the St. Agnes alumni website, www.stagnesalumni.org, entitled The Seven Merna Siblings: From Dominican Convents to the Beyond.
Mr. Merna successfully completed three plus careers in 51 years, received two academic degrees by attending night school, raised two children, has two Grandsons John G. Figura and Max T. Figura, and was happily married to the same woman, Dorothy, a few months shy of 60 years when she passed away.
He began his several professions with a considerable and successful 22-year military career. In 1947, while a “run-away” and with only two years of high school, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in NYC on his 17th Birthday, and, after recruit training at Parris Island, SC and Advanced Combat Training at Camp Lejeune, NC, completed his first enlistment at the Quantico Marine Base in April 1950. At Quantico he was a Legal Chief and an outstanding Military Subjects Instructor, in addition to being a member of the Boxing and Wrestling teams. At the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, Mr. Merna reentered the Marine Corps and was assigned to Marine Recruitment in New York City's Times Square Booth and Nyack (Rockland County), NY from 1950-1952. In 1951 he married his TZHS sweetheart and volunteered for duty in the Korean War, at the same time as his Brother Jim, (and was later joined by Brother Richard). That 13-month tour (1952-53) included combat experience as an Anti-Tank Assault Section Leader of a Weapons Platoon and later as a Platoon Sergeant, both with the Fifth Marines, First Marine Division.
Upon return from Korea Mr. Merna was sent to Quantico for second tour, where the Merna's first child, daughter Linda (Merna) Shepard was born in 1954. This was followed by another four-years as a Marine Recruiter, this time in Kentucky (1960-64), where he was the Staff Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the Owensboro (Davies Co.) KY recruiting station responsible for six counties. Mr. and Mrs. Merna's second child, Son Gerald Thomas, was born in Owensboro in 1956. The then Governor of KY, (former Baseball Commissioner) Albert “Happy” Chandler, appointed Mr. Merna a “Kentucky Colonel.”
From Kentucky, Mr. Merna was selected to be the Legal Assistance Chief at Headquarters USMC in Washington, DC, where he worked for the Corps' first female JAG Officer, a former WWII WAVE. Then a senior SNCO, Mr. Merna was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and volunteered to go to Vietnam. From 1966-67, he was with the Third Marine Division for 13-months, where he was promoted to First Lieutenant. He had successfully advanced through all the enlisted ranks from private to master gunnery sergeant, then to a commissioned officer, before he retired from the Marine Corps in 1968. His last responsibility was at Andrews Air Force Base (MARTD), MD, where he was as a Casualty Notification Officer for MD, VA, and Washington, DC. This daunting experience resulted in an interview with Mr. Merna by the Washington Post on October 24, 2017.
The second career for Mr. Merna began only days after his Marine Corps retirement and was with the United States Postal Service (USPS), originally known as the Post Office Department, in Washington, DC and Virginia, from 1968 to 1992. He began that career as an Administrative Officer in the Washington, DC Headquarters' Bureau of Research and Engineering, and advanced through management positions as Program Analyst, Branch Manager of Budget and Planning in the Employee and Labor Relations Group and National Coordinator of the Postal Service's Revenue Protection Task Force. He also served as Special Assistant to former Postmaster General (PMG) Benjamin F. Bailar after which he was commissioned one of only thirty Officers of the then approximately 700,000 employee USPS, as Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General, (then William F. Bolger). In that position he served as a principal advisor to the PMG on matters involving policy formulation, organization and administration. He was also Secretary of the USPS Executive Committee and coordinated meetings of the Postal Service's Board of Governors. In 1980 he completed the Senior Executive Service (SES) seminar at the Graduate School of Business Administration at Harvard University, and in 1981, The Postmaster General nominated him to and he was accepted for and graduated from the Systems Acquisition Management course for General Flag Officers at the Defense Systems Management College, Fort Belvoir, VA. In 1982, to gain postal field experience, Mr. Merna volunteered to serve as the Acting Postmaster of Lynchburg, VA. Always a “go-getter” and “hard charger,” Mr. Merna concluded his Postal career as Sectional Center Manager and Postmaster of Northern Virginia (Merrifield, VA) in 1987, where he directed the efforts of over 4,000 Northern VA employees, supervising postal operations for 1.7 million customers, and responsible for 150 post offices.
While working for the USPS, Mr. Merna attended night school and received his Bachelor of Science from The George 1998Washington University in 1973. Following this achievement, he completed postgraduate course work at the University of Southern California in 1975. In 1977, he earned his Master of Science from The George Washington University. Mr. Merna concluded his education with postgraduate coursework at the University of Virginia's School of Business in 1983.
Mr. Merna's third career was Advertising Director, and later Vice President, for two large defense-related associations in the Washington, DC area. From 1987 to 1993 he was the first “in-house” Director of Advertising for SIGNAL Magazine at the Fairfax, VA-based Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association (AFCEA). He then was recruited to become (1993-1998), Associate Publisher and Vice President for Public Relations/Marketing at the Arlington, VA-based American Defense Preparedness Association (ADPA), which eventually merged with the National Security Industrial Association (NSIA). There, he moved advertising efforts of National DEFENSE magazine to new heights, tripling its advertising in his first year, and established it as the premier publication of the defense industrial and technology base. His keen knowledge of associations and their publications was instrumental in the creation of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), for which he was awarded NDIA's Gold Medal upon his retirement from NDIA in 1998.
During and after his several careers, Mr. Merna served as Vice President of operations at the Virginia Hills Citizens Association in Alexandria VA from 1998 to 2002 and from 1998 to 2013 held the position of chairman from 2000 to 2002. He was also a member of the Board of Directors for three years for The Representative Condominium in Arlington, VA.
Mr. Merna is a member of the National League of Postmasters of the U.S. and held the role of vice president for “League Benefit Members” from 1989 to 1992. He is a distinguished lifetime member of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronic Association. and a lifetime member of the National Defense Industrial Association, the First Marine Division Association, and the Third Marine Division Association. He is also a member of the Military Officers Association of America, the Marine Corps Association, and a member of the Marine Corps League, VFW and American Legion.
Mr. Merna is the recipient of two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with the Combat “V,” the Combat Action Ribbon, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Citation, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star. He has also previously been selected for inclusion in the 31st edition of Who's Who in Finance and Industry, the first edition of Who's Who in Media and Communication, and multiple editions of Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World. Mr. Merna was also interviewed by The Washington Post on October 24, 2017.
In recognition of outstanding contributions to his profession and the Marquis Who's Who community, Mr. Merna has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.ltachievers.com for more information about this honor.
(1) Dorothy M. (Sedlack) Merna and Gerald Francis Merna (Wed Feb. 10, 1951 – Sept. 16, 2010)
(2) Marine Merna Brothers Sgt. James E. (left) and Technical Sgt. Gerald F. (right), 1stBn, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, Korea, 1952
(3) Gerald Thomas Merna and Linda (Merna) Shepard
(4) First Lt. Gerald F. Merna USMC (Retired). 1947 -1968, Korean and Vietnam War Veteran
(5) Gerald Francis Merna, Executive Assistant to the Postmaster General (1968 – 1982)
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