A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Commander Tom Merkle graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
Upon completion of the Naval Nuclear Officer and Submarine Officer training pipelines, in 2000 Commander Merkle reported to the fast attack submarine USS Los Angeles (SSN 688), where he earned submarine officer warfare qualification and served as Main Propulsion Assistant, Damage Control Assistant, and Communications Officer, taking part in two Western Pacific deployments, RIMPAC 2002, and a 10-month drydocked nuclear availability. During this time, USS Los Angeles was awarded the Battle E for warfighting efficiency. In 2003 Commander Merkle reported to Commander, Submarine Forces Pacific (COMSUBPAC) as a watch officer, and in the Operations department as a RIMPAC 2004 submarine planner. In 2004, Commander Merkle was accepted for lateral transfer to Information Professional (IP), now part of the Information Warfare Officer Community. In 2006 he earned a Master of Science in Space Systems Operations Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
From 2006-2009 Commander Merkle was C4I Systems Engineering &Tactical Comms branch head at Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S J61). From 2009-2011 he served as Data Center and IT Division Deputy for the Department of the Navy Assistant for Administration (DON/AA) and was the Continuity Planner for the Navy Secretariat. He next reported as Flag Communications Officer for Commander, Carrier Strike Group Eleven (CCSG-11) in San Diego, California and Everett, Washington, where he led preparation for staff embarkation aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68). Aboard Nimitz, Commander Carrier Strike Group 11 participated in RIMPAC 2012, and in 2013 deployed to the Western Pacific, and US Central Command areas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
From December 2013 to 2016, CDR Merkle was assigned to Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare (N2/N6), Assured C2 Division (F1), as the Terrestrial Communications Requirements Officer. Then from 2015-2016, he served at OPNAV as Deputy Branch Head for Networks (N2/N6F12B). January 2017 to 2018, he reported to the staff of Commander Naval Forces Europe / Commander Naval Forces Africa / Commander US Sixth Fleet (CNE-CNA-C6F), in Naples, Italy, as Deputy Director, Communications and Networks (N6A).
Commander Merkle is currently Executive Officer to Naval Computers and Telecommunications Station Naples, Italy.
His decorations include the Joint Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal, and other personal, unit and campaign awards.