Merrill was professor emeritus in history at San Diego State University at the time of this interview. He had been a Marine Corps officer during World War II, then taught at San Diego State from 1946 to 1977. He earned his AB at Stanford University in 1933 and Masters in 1934 from Harvard University, then went back to Stanford for his PhD. He was offered a position in Japan, teaching for three years (1935-1938). Following that he completed his residence for the doctorate but not the dissertation, and went to the University of California at Los Angeles for a year for teaching credentials. He was approached by a reserve captain in the Marine Corps whom he had known in Japan about becoming a language officer. After enlisting in May 1941 in Los Angeles, he went to Hawaii for training, was in Hawaii for Pearl Harbor, and spent the rest of World War II in the Marine Corps. After the war he took a job at Knox College before teaching at San Diego State College, where he finished his doctoral dissertation. He retired from the Marines. This interview was conducted for a History 499 course. The name of the interviewer is unclear.