Black Hawk County

Pfc. Merrill L. Fortune


Wagner Killed in Africa; Seidel, Fortune Missing

One Waterloo soldier was listed as killed in action and two others were reported missing Wednesday in War Department advices to their families here.

All three were north African battle front casualties.

Killed in action Feb. 20, 1943 the War Department announced was Pvt. Joseph M. Wagner, jr., 24 son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Wagner, 1331 Sycamore street, an anti-tank division member.

Missing were Technician, Fifth Grade, Verne M. Seidel, 25, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Martin Seidel, 1711 West Third street, and Pfc. Merrill L. Fortune, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Irving W. Fortune, 303 Bratnober street. Both Seidel and Fortune were listed as missing, Feb. 17.

Private Fortune, who enlisted in the national guard in February, 1941, trained at Camp Claiborne, and left for north Ireland in January, 1942. He was transferred to north Africa in late November, 1942. While here he was employed by the Flour City Box & Manufacturing Co., after attending East high school.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, March 10, 1943 (photos of all three men included)

Mother’s Day Means Sadness for Many a Waterloo Mother

Sorrow for Mrs. Fortune.
Sorrowed beyond words this Mother’s Day is Mrs. I. W. Fortune, 303 Bratnober street, whose son, Pfc. Merrill Lewis Fortune, was reported missing in action in north Africa, Feb. 17, 1943.

She has spent weeks and months praying that the War Department listing of him as “missing in action” may prove untrue, still hopeful, she expressed confidence Saturday that her son may still be alive.

Her other son, Sgt. Marvin Fortune is stationed at Hartford, Conn. He is the father of a new daughter, Sandra Kay, born Wednesday in Detroit, Mich. This word brought the only cheerful ray for Mother’s Day, for her arrival made Mrs. Fortune a grandmother for the first time.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, May 9, 1943

Captive Fortune Assures Parents That He’s Well

Mr. and Mrs. I. W. Fortune, 303 Bratnober street, yesterday received three cards from their son, Pfc. Merrill Fortune, who is in a German prison camp.

Altho they had received a telegram thru the International Red Cross May 10 telling them that he was a prisoner of war, this was the first word which had been received directly from him.

Private Fortune wrote he was well and was receiving good treatment. He asked his mother to see the Red Cross about sending him a package and requested his family to write him as he had as yet received no letters.

All three cards contained the line, “Please don’t worry about me, Mother.”

Private Fortune, who enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in February, 1941, trained at Camp Claiborne, La., and was sent to Ireland in January, 1942. He was transferred to North Africa in late November, 1942, and was reported missing Feb. 17, 1943.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, July 19, 1943

Promises made German prisoners of war evidently fail to materialize, according to a letter received Saturday by Mr. and Mrs. Irving W. Fortune, 1530 Newell street, from their son, Pfc. Merrill L. Fortune of the infantry, a German prisoner for eight months. “I am looking forward to seeing you in September,” he wrote in his letter, which is not dated, but is believed to have been sent five months ago. Altho his parents have received three letters from him during his imprisonment, Private Fortune states he has failed to receive any mail there. He is working five days a week in Germany, but is eagerly looking forward to postwar days and requested his father to have a job ready for him upon his return home.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, October 17, 1943

Steady Stream of Overseas Packages Is Morale Builder for Waterloo Service Men

Mrs. I. W. Fortune, 1530 Newell street (above), wraps a warm olive drab sweater to place in a 7-pound box which this week she will send her son, Pvt. Merrill L. Fortune, 21, who has been a German prisoner since Feb. 17, 1943, when he was captured in north Africa while serving in the infantry. Other items to go in her box are a suit of underwear, a shirt, four pairs of socks, five candy bars, 10 packages of gum, three packages of saccharine, four boxes of malted milk tablets, a pound of raisins, a comb, three pairs of shoestrings, a dozen razor blades, a styptic pencil, hard candy, soap, shaving soap and powder, a pound of macaroni, a package of cleansing tissue, and one-fourth of a pound each of tea, coffee and sugar. The value of her box will be between $11 and $14.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, July 2, 1944 (photo of Mrs. I. W. Fortune)

Merrill L. Fortune, who was held as a prisoner of war in Germany the past two years, has been honorably discharged from service under the Army point system and is now home with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. I. W. Fortune, 1530 Newell street.

Fortune, who served as private with the 34th infantry division, had been overseas since January 1942. A brother, Staff Sgt. Marvin Fortune, is now in Czechoslovakia with an infantry unit of the Third army.

Another brother, Pvt. Eugene Fortune, is stationed at Alamogordo, N.M., with the army air force. Residing with his parents are his wife and daughter and Sergeant Fortune’s wife and daughter.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, June 13, 1945

Pfc. Eugene Fortune and Merrill Fortune, son of Mr. and Mrs. I. W. Fortune, 217 Lewis street, were reunited this week in their parents home for their first meeting in four and a half years. Merrill has returned after having received an honorable discharge from the army, and Private Fortune is home on furlough.

Merrill Fortune was in the army for four and a half years, serving overseas for three and a half during which time he was held captive of the Germans for more than two years. He served as a private first class.

Eugene Fortune, now stationed at Lubbock, Tex., has been in the army air corps for four and a half years.

Another brother, Marvin, is living in Detroit, Mich., after having been discharged from service.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, November 25, 1945