Paul Edward Merchant

Inducted 2021

Paul Edward Merchant

CW5 Paul Edward Merchant, born 26 January 1950 in Metropolis, Illinois, attended University High School in Carbondale, Illinois, where he lettered in wrestling and helped start the Radio Communications Club. Merchant graduated in May 1968, enlisted in the Army on 27 May 1968, and proceeded to Basic Training and Helicopter Pilot School.

In May 1969 at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Merchant successfully earned his Rotary Wing Aviator Wings and promotion to Warrant Officer. On 2 June 1969 he arrived in Vietnam, assigned to the “Bikinis” 170th Assault Helicopter Company at Pleiku, Central Highlands. By the time he departed on 1 June 1970, Merchant logged over 1,100 combat flight hours and received a Bronze Star, two awards of the Purple Heart, an Air Medal, and two unit awards of the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm.

In June 1970 Merchant returned to Fort Wolters, Texas as a Standardization Instructor Pilot (IP). From 1972 to 1975 he served as an advisor with the French Foreign Legion, including a deployment to Chad. In 1975, he returned to Fort Rucker, where he served as an IP until 1979 when he was transferred to Korea, during which time he was awarded the Soldiers Medal.

In 1990, Merchant joined the Oklahoma National Guard as a full-time technician and Aviation Maintenance Officer and from 1994 to 2004 as the Maintenance Test Pilot for the Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters. He deployed to Iraq for 18 months as an Airspace Planner with the Multi-National Corps-Iraq staff.

On his 2005 return from Iraq, Merchant was appointed as the Command Chief Warrant Officer for the Oklahoma National Guard with a mission of finding individuals with the character and aptitude for joining the Warrant Officer ranks. 125 Warrant Officers are serving because of his efforts.

Upon full retirement in 2012 with nearly 43 years of service, he received the Legion of Merit medal. CW5 Merchant has volunteered his time to more than a dozen civic and veterans related initiatives and activities in Oklahoma. Chief Merchant resides in Norman, Oklahoma.