“I’m joining the reserves; I hope this isn’t gonna affect my job.”

Mount Pisgah faculty Josh Merry returns after deployment to Middle East


Josh Merry, Mount Pisgah Middle school athletic director as well as head varsity and middle school wrestling coach, has been at this school for 11 years and is a member of the U.S. Army Reserves. As many at Mount Pis-
gah know, he was deployed November 1, 2020 to serve in the Middle East. He returned home to his family and our community Memorial Day weekend, 2021.

Merry was first sent to Fort Hood, a U.S. Army post in Texas, to undergo, as he describes, “a long physical pro-cess,” before being stationed.

After Fort Hood, Merry and his unit were flown to the Middle East, and “were over there for about six months and […] two weeks.”

“You’ve got a few destinations before you get to your final destination, and the command center was in Kuwait, and that’s where I was a lot of the time,” says Merry.

“And then I had members [who were] in my unit that were going to Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, and then we would come back to Kuwait, as the main hub. […] I was going to Iraq a lot, and we would go out
there for a few days, and then we’d fl y back. Same with Afghanistan.”

COVID-19 affected even those serving overseas, as it contributed to a policy of a limited number of troops on ground, as well as 10—14 day quarantines prior to or upon entering every country.

“There was a lot of logistics that my first sergeant and I had to play out.”

Those quarantining protocols, however, came in clutch when Mount Pisgah was competing in the 2021 GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championship in Macon, from February 9—13.

“If it was on TV or anything I would watch it or […] I would stream it and, you know, with COVID, that was a blessing, because I was able to watch the majority of the matches.” Merry tuned in as much as possible despite the seven-hour time difference.

“I don’t think I slept at all, actually, for two days, because [of] the way that the scheduling was, and the way my mission [was scheduled]. Luckily, I just got back from Iraq [to Kuwait], like two days before, because if I was in Iraq I don’t think I would have been able to watch it at all, because Iraq is a […] hostile environment.”

Fortunately, though, Merry was able to experience the Mount Pisgah Varsity Wrestling team’s victory, over 7,000 miles away.

“It was awesome, it was. I mean, words can’t explain it. It was so bitter sweet, just to watch, and […] I knew they knew I was watching.”

“We’ve had this team with those seniors since they were in middle school. And so just to see all that hard work finally pay off was awesome. […] I hate [that] I wasn’t there, but I was meant to be somewhere else.”

Merry was in direct command over twelve nineteen year-old soldiers during his deployment.

“I think God always has a purpose and a plan, and I really felt I was there for them, not myself. […] My first sergeant and I were the same age […] and we both have children, and I felt that we were really good as far as mentoring them and making sure they were properly ready mentally and physically when they went to a combat zone or when they were doing their mission.”

Merry’s dedication to coaching, mentoring, and serving is clear to see in both his military and coaching positions.

“I’ve always wanted to serve the country. […] God’s given me abilities, and I just feel that, you know, serving people is one of my greatest assets, and putting people first.”

Merry returned to the U.S. on May 21, 2021, first arriving in Baltimore, then flying back to Fort Hood for more physical assessments and gear return, and then, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, he finally got back to his family.

Merry is now back at Mount Pisgah for the 2021-2022 school year, and looks forward to the upcoming wrestling season, for both varsity and middle school. And in case anyone is wondering about this season, Merry says, “We’re gonna be just fine.”