Story by Candice Kelm, MCC Sports Information
McLennan Community College men's golf team has joined the Folds of Honor Military Tribute Program (FHMTP) for the 2017-2018 season. The Highlanders will honor Sgt. 1st Class Albert A. Mersch by having an MCC team member carry a special golf bag displaying Mersch's name, rank and branch of service at each of their tournaments this season. Sophomore July Latimer was the first Highlander to receive the honor of carrying the bag at the Highlanders' dual match earlier this week.
Folds of Honor (FOH) is a preferred charitable partner of the Golf Coaches Association of America (GCAA) and honors fallen or severely wounded American soldiers. The program "works to ensure that no family is left behind in the fight to preserve American freedom. Through scholarships and other assistance, they give back to the spouses and children of soldiers killed or disabled in service to our country."
"We joined the Folds of Honor because we wanted to celebrate heroes like Sgt. 1st Class Mersch for his service and sacrifice," head coach Vince Clark said. "We wanted to raise money to help the families of veterans like Mersch pay for college educations, and my golfers and I wanted to learn from Mersch's life and example. We are honored to include him in our McLennan family."
MCC is one of approximately 10 schools from across the United States that have joined in the program and the only two-year college to participate. As part of the FHMTP, participating teams raise funds for the FOH throughout the season. The special MCC golf bag will be raffled away at the end of the 2018 spring season. Raffle tickets will be sold for $1 each at different MCC events throughout the 2017-2018 school year.
For more information about McLennan Golf's Folds of Honor participation or to make a donation, contact McLennan Athletics at firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>.
Sgt. 1st Class Albert A. Mersch's Story
Sgt. 1st Class Albert A. Mersch was born in 1965 and grew up in the small town of Frankfort, Illinois. After graduating from Lincoln-Way High School in 1983, he attended the University of Illinois at Chicago. After completing one year of college, Mersch joined the United States Army. He completed his initial training at Fort McClellan, Alabama, in 1984 and moved on to duty assignments in Germany (twice); Korea (twice); Fort Story and Fort Eustis, Virginia; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Fort Hood, Texas (twice).
Mersch deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1999 and Baghdad, Iraq in 2004. While in Iraq, Mersch was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received as a result of an enemy rocket attack on Sept. 30, 2004. Mersch was injured when a rocket was fired into his basecamp in Baghdad and detonated in his sleeping quarters as he slept. The explosion killed his roommate - Staff Sgt. Darren Cunningham - and resulted in a severe chest wound on Mersch's right side. After surgery to remove shrapnel near his heart and lungs, Mersch was returned to Fort Hood via medevac. Mersch returned to full military duty following eight weeks of treatment and continued his military duties until his retirement Aug. 1, 2008 - with more than 24 years of active military service.
Mersch's family stood proudly with him during his successful military career. He has been married to Melinda (also an Army veteran) for 24 years and has two daughters, Micaela and Ashley. Micaela attends Simpson College in Iowa and is a member of the women's basketball team. Ashley is a fifth-grader at Troy Elementary School in Troy, Texas. Mersch continues with his service to our nation as a human resources specialist at the Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center in Temple, Texas.