Merchant arrived in Iraq in October 2005, after volunteering to help Task Force Saber with its mission in the Middle East. On March 1, 2006, Spc. Merchant was in an observation post near an Iraqi police headquarters in Ramadi, Iraq, when a group of insurgents attacked. The enemies attacked with RPGs, small-arms fire, and two vehicle-borne IEDs. Two of the RPGs hit the up-armored Humvee that Merchant was in, killing him instantly.
Merchant was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, and other service medals on March 1, 2006.