Louis “Wallie” Walter Mercure was born in Dudley, Massachusetts on 12 October 1914. He was the son of Arthur and Mary Mercure. He was a 1939 graduate of Pawtucket Senior High School, Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Wallie entered Rhode Island State College (RISC) in September 1939 with the class of 1943, majoring in Biology. He was a member of the National Honorary Biological Society, Phi Sigma and East Hall Association. He participated in the U.S. Army ROTC program for two years. Wallie, like many of his classmates, left RISC on 5 February 1942 during his junior year to join the fight against the Germans and Japanese.
Private Mercure attended Infantry Basic Training and graduated from Infantry Officer Candidate School, Fort Benning, Georgia and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Infantry upon graduation in 1942. Immediately following graduation, he was assigned as an infantry rifle platoon leader with the 39th Infantry Regiment “Fighting Falcons,” 9th Infantry Division “Old Reliables.” On 11 November 1943, the 9th Infantry Division, including the 39th Infantry Regiment, was on the high seas bound for England and more intensive training in preparation for the Normandy Invasion.
On 10 June 1944, the Regiment landed at Utah Beach. On 12 June, the 9th Infantry Division began a series of battles which resulted in the race to the sea and the eventual sealing off of the Cherbourg Peninsula. The battle for the Contentin Peninsula began on 18 June 1944. Again, the 39th Infantry Regiment excelled, this time in Anderville, which fell on 1 July, yielding 3,000 German prisoners.
Next followed the famous “Battle of the Hedgerows,” the large earth walls covered with large bushes and trees, dividing the many farming fields in Normandy. For 25 days, the men of the “Fighting Falcons” fought, bled and died in one of the bloodiest battles of all times. After the St. Lo breakthrough, the 39th Regiment raced across France, tangling with the retreating Germans at every town and crossroads where the Germans chose to stand and fight.
By 19 August 1944, the 39th Regiment was posed for the drive to the Seine River and Paris. By 26 August, the Seine River was reached. The 39th then moved north-eastward and sealed off the Mons Pocket. It then wheeled eastward into Belgium. Sadly, on 6 September 1944, 2LT Louis W. Mercure was Killed in Action as the 39th Regiment swept forward into Belgium. He was awarded the Purple Heart Medal and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge (Posthumously). He was buried with full military honors in the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium.
Second Lieutenant Louis Walter Mercure was a son of Rhode Island who answered the call to service during World War II and gave his life in service to Rhode Island and America. He is a heroic member of the “Greatest Generation.”