The Pacific Wiki
Merriel "Snafu" Shelton
Snafu in Peleliu


Rami Malek


Private First Class, Corporal


Battle of Cape Gloucester

Battle of Peleliu

Battle of Okinawa


Deceased as of May 3rd, 1993

Pfc./Cpl. Merriel "Snafu" Allesandro Shelton was one of Eugene Sledge's fellow Marines. He got his nickname from his cocky personality and demeanor. Though he has already had some humanity beaten out of him by his introduction, he slowly loses even more of his humanity as the series goes on.

History and description[]

Snafu was born in Louisiana in January 21, 1922. During his early life, he worked as an HVAC technician until serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps, then eventually enlisted in the Marines.

Merriell Sheton joined the Marines along with a younger brother of my mother, John Wesley Clement.  They went through training together, served together in the South Pacific, where Uncle John Wesley was killed on Okinawa on 01 Jun, 1945. Uncle Merriell told me he witnessed his death during an artillery barrage.  In one of the photos below, you have mislabeled two of the three marines. As state, my uncle, Merriell “SNAFU” Shelton is on the right (looking into the photo), the marine on the left is my uncle John Wesley Clement, and the marine in the middle is  John House. All three joined, trained, and fought together, with Uncle John Wesley being the only one who did not return.

Please correct your account of Uncle Merriell's early life, and the names on the photo, as they are not correct.

Norwood Shelton, Jr

Monroe, LA

04 Mar 2021

He enlisted in the Marines at some point after giving up his sister, and served along with Burgin on Cape Gloucester.


Snafu is first seen in a cabin with De L'Eau and Burgin when he denies Sledge and other Privates the opportunity to bunk in his tent. He is later seen supervising new Privates Eugene Sledge, Bill Leyden, and Robert Oswalt as clean oil drums, a detail he didn't need to supervise but did anyway just to give the Privates a hard time.

He later participates in the Battle of Peleliu, where he is later seen prying a dead Japanese soldier's jaw off to retrieve the gold teeth inside. Sledge witnesses this incident and is greatly disturbed.

Snafu is later part of the Airfield assault. He was struck down by the shockwave of a shell, but Sledge rushed back and pulled him up. They set up position and began showering the Japanese garrison with mortars.

The next morning, Snafu began bonding with Sledge by asking the latter about his reading of the Bible and writing habit, citing that it should not be done in order to deny the Japanese soldiers of intel should they find the notes. Sledge calmly replied by saying he wouldn't show it to them, which made Snafu smile. He then asked Sledge for a smoke, and thanked him by giving Sledge the nickname "Sledgehammer". He also exchanged jokes with the others and called Bill Leyden the "ballpeen hammer" and "little man".

Bloody Nose Ridge[]

Snafu in Bloody Nose Ridge

Snafu is later sent into the Peleliu hills led by Capt. Haldane. Towards the end of Snafu's time in the hills he is seen throwing small bits of coral into the partially destroyed cranium of a dead Japanese soldier. Sledge almost gets reduced to Snafu's level, about to try and pull the golden teeth out of another Japanese soldier's mouth. Snafu himself stops him, because he doesn't want to let Sledge lose his humanity. He tries to get Sledge to back away from the corpse by telling him that the Japs have diseases, so Sledge cuts off a unit insignia instead. After being pulled out of Peleliu Snafu is then seen going back to Pavavu with the rest of his unit, and he is presumably one of the Marines swimming just off the shores of Pavuvu.


The 1st Marine Division

Snafu in Okinawa after Pvt. Hamm is killed

is again called upon to assist in the Battle of Okinawa, and Snafu is with them. Apparently, Snafu has been promoted to Corporal. Snafu is first seen exchanging his old poncho for replacement Pvt. Peck's poncho which leads to Peck switching his poncho with one placed over a pile 60mm mortar rounds to keep them dry.

While on Okinawa, Snafu began to show signs of emotional trauma. The first time was after an encounter with a woman rigged with explosive begging the marines to save her baby, followed by a Japanese machine gun mowing down civilians. Just after the ordeal, a mortar strike is ordered, but Pvt. Peck had taken the good poncho covering the stored rounds for himself, and put his less-than-waterproof poncho over them. The rounds were then wet in the constant rain of Okinawa, resulting in what is are called a "short round" which showered Snafu's teammates with shells, which reminds the viewer of the scene where Sledge is in mortar training and the sergeant instructs them on the danger of short rounds. While sitting across Sledge after surviving the mortar shower, Snafu was visibly shaken.

During a rainy night when he started arguing with Sledge, his outburst caused Pvt. Peck to lose his nerve and start firing off rounds blindly at the Japanese position. Hamm, along with Snafu and the others while trying to pull Peck down, was shot and killed. Snafu is seen holding Peck's poncho in remorse.

Snafu is later seen with Sledge looking into a hut where they hear crying.Upon checking the house the crying turns out to be a baby. The baby and a dying woman is the sole survivor of a mortar shelling which Sledge believes was directed by him earlier in the battle. Snafu leaves without noticing the woman, but Sledge does and is later seen walking out of the hut after cradling the woman in her final moments. Towards the end of the Okinawa campaign Snafu is seen basking in the sunlight and having a conversation with Sledge and Burgin. The two Marines notice Sledge's lighter which used to belong to GySgt. Haney, this slightly surprising Snafu and Burgin. After the Battle of Okinawa Snafu is last seen leaving in a truck. After the war has ended Snafu is seen celebrating Victory in Japan Day with his friends, Sledge and Burgin.

Heading home[]

Snafu, Sledge, and Burgin later return to their respective homes in a train after some service in China. Burgin goes out first, and Snafu soon follows that night. While leaving, he noticeably wanted to talk to Sledge before doing so, but Sledge was fast asleep. Snafu instead then leaves the train holding his tongue and never speaks to his friends again for 35 years until Sledge released his memoirs, "With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa". Snafu stayed in Louisiana and worked in the lumber business and air conditioning repair, married and had two sons.


Snafu died in 1993. Sledge was one of the pall bearers at Merriell's funeral.

Personality and Traits[]

Snafu after the landing on Peleliu beach

".....PFC Merriel Shelton, an excitable, small-statured youngster from south Louisiana who had arrived with the same group of replacements as Burgin and Burke. Shelton was a whiz at poker, but otherwise his primary talents involved getting confused, lost, in trouble, and generally fouled up. He would argue about anything at the slightest opportunity, and when he was agitated or inebriated, all these tendencies grew more pronounced. They were also magnified by Shelton's inability to speak understandable English at such times.

Origin of Snafu's Nickname[]

"How much money you got?" someone asked one day as the cattle car bounced along toward Melbourne.

Shelton laboriously counted his Australian currency for several minutes, then announced: "I t'ink I got maybe aroun' two pounds and ten ounces — plenty much for some drinks an' poker, eh?"

"You know what you are, Shelton?" Burgin said. "You're just one big snafu lookin' for a place to happen."

Everybody laughed, and the nickname stuck. Nobody in his mortar section ever called Merriel Shelton by his first name again. He was Snafu from that moment on." - Brotherhood of Heroes, Bill Sloan.

SNAFU is an unofficial military acronym for Situation Normal, All Fucked Up, meaning that the present situation is bad, but it is a normal event, additionally, there was a lazy animated cartoon soldier called Private SNAFU.


  • Snafu in Real Life

    Snafu's personality in the series is primarily based on Sledge's descriptions of marines' disturbing trophy making in his memoirs.
  • Snafu was a Cape Gloucester veteran before episode 5, as seen in many scenes.
  • The real Snafu Shelton bears a slight resemblance to Ira Hayes, the Pima flag raiser who fought on Iwo Jima.
  • Eugene Roe from Band of Brothers is also from Louisiana.

See Also[]

Eugene Sledge

Romus Valton Burgin

Jay De L'Eau

Bill Leyden

Andrew Haldane

Tony Peck


1st Marine Division