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Merlin German, ‘Miracle’ Marine

Sun., May 4, 2008

A Marine sergeant who became a symbol of resilience as he strove to recover from a roadside bomb blast in Iraq that blanketed 97 percent of his body with burns has died, the Defense Department said. He was 22.

Sgt. Merlin German died April 11 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he was continuing treatment for the injuries he suffered in combat on Feb. 22, 2005, the Pentagon said Thursday.

The former turret gunner was dubbed the “Miracle Man” for his determination in facing his wounds, which cost the former saxophone player his fingers and rippled his face with scars. He endured more than 40 surgeries, spent 17 months in a hospital and had to learn to walk again.

Meanwhile, he started a charity, Merlin’s Miracles, to aid child burn victims and considered college and a career. “Sometimes I do think I can’t do it,” he said last year. “Then I think: Why not? I can do whatever I want. … Nobody has ever been 97 percent dead and survived, and lived to walk.” German had been stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

William Warner, nonfiction writer

William W. Warner, a retired Foreign Service officer whose first book, “Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay,” was a national bestseller and winner of the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction, died April 18 of complications of Alzheimer’s disease at his home in Washington, D.C. He was 88.

Warner was nearing 60 when he published “Beautiful Swimmers” in 1976. The book is an elegantly written, scientifically accurate exploration of the Chesapeake Bay blue crab and of the lives and lore of Eastern Shore watermen, who for more than three centuries have depended on Callinectes sapidus (Greek and Latin for “savory beautiful swimmer”).

Reviewing “Beautiful Swimmers” in the Washington Post, Larry McMurtry noted the book’s “high particularity” – a particular animal, a particular place, a particular way of life. “The prose of ‘Beautiful Swimmers,’ ” McMurtry wrote, “has grace, wit and clarity, on top of a real strength of feeling; were one not inclined to read the book to find out about crabs and watermen, one would still read it merely for its sentences.”

Hitler plot member P.F. von Boeselager

Philipp Freiherr von Boeselager, believed to be the last surviving member of the inner circle of plotters who attempted to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944 with a briefcase bomb, died Thursday. He was 90.

Von Boeselager was part of a group of officers who tried to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944, supplying explosives for the operation led by Col. Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg.Von Stauffenberg placed the bomb in a room where Hitler was meeting with his aides and military advisers but escaped the blast when someone moved the briefcase next to a table leg, deflecting much of the explosive force.

Von Stauffenberg and many cohorts were arrested and executed. But von Boeselager’s name was never divulged. Still, he carried a cyanide capsule with him until the end of the war in case his secret was revealed.


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