Merritt, Jack N. | 1991
- Birth and Death Year | 1930 - 2018
- Induction Year | 1991
- Profession | Military
- Oklahoma Connection | Merritt was born in Lawton, Oklahoma.
- Hometown | Lawton
Jack Merritt joined the Senate campaign for Robert S. Kerr after his graduation from high school in 1948 and traveled the state making speeches on behalf of Kerr’s candidacy. Loudspeakers were placed on top of his car to play music and invite small-town Oklahomans to Merritt’s speeches on courthouse squares across the state.
“It was the idea of sacrifice of self for the good of the country that really appealed to me. I began to see the meaning of the old ideals of ‘duty, honor, country.’” - General Jack Merritt
Oklahoma native Jack N. Merritt attended the University of Oklahoma before going to work for his father’s company, Merritt Wholesale, in Oklahoma City and then graduating from the University of Nebraska and George Washington University. He began his military service as a draftee at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1952 and was stationed in Korea by 1955. Merritt graduated from the Air Command Staff College in 1965 and was assigned to the Pentagon, where he ultimately served on the staff in Robert McNamara’s office of the Secretary of Defense. He went to Vietnam in 1968 and was awarded medals including the Silver Star for Valor in action, the Bronze Medal for Valor, the Legion of Merit, and the Soldier’s Medal for risking his life to save the life of a downed fighter pilot. After 1970, he was detailed to the White House on the staff of Dr. Henry Kissinger, the assistant to the U.S. President for National Security Affairs, and joined the Program Analysis Division. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1973 and became Director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon in the 1980s. In 1985, Merritt earned the rank of General and became the representative to the North Atlantic Council Military Committee, where he remained until his retirement in 1987.