Updated: May 7
May 29th 1951 a 19 year old Marine died for his county, here's the story.
David Leroy Beltz
By Jody Gates
No one knows for sure what shapes our lives, maybe the will of God, fate, the alignment of the stars – or lack thereof. Although we have the option to choose a path, sometimes it is already chosen for us. Our future may be uncertain at times, but most of us believe there is a higher power in control of the universe, closing one door only to open another. This was the case for the young wife of a marine serving his country, and for the future Mericle family.
It is hard to fathom the far-reaching effects of war. Even harder to imagine is the outcome affecting individual lives and families. Blood is spilled, lives are changed forever. A woman with stars in her eyes, who wrote to tell her husband that she was carrying his child. The letter that was never received, but was instead returned - unopened. A family torn apart, even before there is any knowledge of the new life that was created by love.
A proud man who served his country to honor his God, his country, his mother, his father, his wife, and, unbeknownst to him, his yet unborn child. Left behind was a daughter (Janice) who never knew the father who loved her mom with all of his heart and soul.
Doris A Reinhart was born in Paulding, Ohio on 27 December 1931. On January 17, 1951, she married the love of her life, a young Marine named David Beltz.
Just over ten days later, David Leroy Beltz (19), from Stryker, Ohio, reported to his receiving company at Camp Joseph H Pendelton in Oceanside, California – muster date, 29 January 1951. As a Marine Private 1st Class he was there to receive battalion training and replacement command in this newly created unit.
· Source: Ancestry.com - Muster Rolls of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1798-1892. Microfilm Publication T1118, 123 rolls. ARC ID: 922159. Records of the U.S. Marine Corps, Record Group 127; National Archives in Washington, D.C.
David was killed in action 29 May 1951, just four short months since he entered the ranks to serve in Korea. His death is listed as hostile – killed, by gunshot or small arms fire. He was a ground casualty. Processed in November 1951, he returned home. David is buried in Archbold Cemetery, Archbold, Ohio.
Of the 1,789,000 service members who participated in the Korean War, David was one of the 36,574 who lost their lives in the Korean War. Source: https://prospect.org/article/american-war-dead-numbers
Without understanding or knowledge of his mom’s previous marriage or life situation, he knew something - FELT something - so profound and eye-opening when he found something in his mother’s garage. It was tucked away lovingly, protected from the years. Patrick could feel the love, hurt, fear, passion and sadness brought about by the service flag with a field of 48 stars in his hands.
You see, Doris Reinhart-Beltz went on to marry Mervin L. Mericle on 23 June 1953, a union that would produce seven more children. Ronnie, Mary, Mike, Kathy, Kris, Jerome and "Patrick Mericle, “Greenbear,” is one of those children.
Now you might come to question the “what ifs” at this point. What if David had survived the war? What if Doris had not found love with Mervin Mericle? As in the Hollywood movie, “Back to the Future,” would Patrick’s mere existence have been erased like Marty McFly’s family?
Many of us who have been impacted by this gentle man are thankful. Thankful for his step-father’s service. Thankful for his mother’s choices, and thankful that Patrick Mericle is a member of our community.