July 1, 1920 - August 3, 2019 Merle was born in a small town in central Illinois. The eldest of nine children, he had four brothers and four sisters. All the boys served in the military; Merle, Donald and Russell served during WW2 with Merle and Donald becoming fighter pilots. Donald in the European Theater while Merle was in the SWPA. Russell served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. Harvey served in the Army during the Korean War era and Raymond in the U.S. Air Force. Merle enter the U.S. Army on October 14, 1941 (and as per usual Government paperwork procedures) was discharged the next day, October 15th, then reenlisted the next day the 16th, into the Regular Army. With a raise in pay due to re-enlisting. He was assigned to Scott Field, Illinois for Radio Mechanic School. While there he requested and was granted a transfer to Basic Flight Training in San Antonio, Texas in 1942. After flight training he was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. and assigned to the 348th Fighter Group for Combat training in the P-47 on the East coast. The 348th arrived in Port Moresby, New Guinea July 1943 as the first Thunderbolt Squadron in the SWPA. December 1943 during combat operations shot down a Japanese aircraft. He was the 341st Squadron Commander in January 1945 and his squadron became the first of the Group to receive brand new P-51 Mustang aircraft. Promised at least a month to become familiar with the new plane, they were flying operational flights by the end of the week. He remained in Japan for four months after the war ended while serving as the Operations Officer for the Group. The 348th Fighter Group ended its run as the most successful P47 group in the SWPA. In 1946 Merle transitioned to the Air Force conducting various test operations on the F-80 Jet at Williams Field, Arizona. From there in 1947 he moved to Randolph AFB, Texas as a Flight Instructor. An Aeronautical Engineering degree followed soon after in Ames Iowa. In 1950 he became Assistant Director of Operations and Training at Selfridge AFB, Michigan for the 10th Air Force. 1952 took him to Seoul Korea as Assistant Deputy for War Plans, 5th Air Force Headquarters. 1954 assigned to the Pentagon, Fighter Branch, Operations & Training for tactical missiles. 1957-1959 moved to Orlando AFB Florida as Director of Operations & Training. Directed the operational test of the Mace Cruise Missile at White Sands, New Mexico. In 1959 Merle moved to Vandenberg AFB in California and helped developed training for the Atlas Missile Launch Group. This consisted of training former members of a B29 Group to become the Launch Control command of various missiles. 1963 to 1967 Merle was the Director of two programs; Program 437 & Program 437AP. Program 437 was a test bed for launching nuclear weapons for high altitude tests. Followed by Program 437AP which swapped out the weapon for a camera. In 1967 until retirement January 1971, Merle was the Director of the AIMS TRACALS Program and various other sub-programs at Wright-Patterson AFB. AIMS TRACALS was the lead agent in updating all Air Force, Navy and Army aircraft with enhanced air & ground communications and security systems. This also included all airport radar and radio communications in the United States.