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Col. Merle Zeine USAF ret.

Discussion in 'WWII Obituaries' started by Biak, Aug 16, 2019.

  1. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  2. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    There's a question that is sometimes ask; "If you could meet anyone alive or dead Who would you like to meet"? I often thought maybe Jimmy Steward or John Wayne. Possibly Lincoln. You know the obvious choices. But over the last few days I realized I met the person I most admired.
    I spend a lifetime of what you would call "quality time" with the man who unbeknownst to him, influenced my life and made me strive to be 'just a little bit better'. I found you can disagree without being disagreeable. Succeed without gloating or bragging. But most importantly, show Respect always.

    Merle was the Patriarch of the Family not for being the oldest but because well, because he was the smartest. Age has it's privileges as does Rank and Merle had both.
    The favorite hobby of the Zeine family is arguing. Be it a family gathering for a birthday, Holiday or just when a bunch of us got together, someone would always bring up some subject that was bound to get the party started. It was also entertaining to watch when Merle was there, which wasn't as often as we'd like. After several bouts of, "You dumb-ass, everyone knows blaa-blaa-blaa", or "Of course you're smarter and gotta' be right, I only had four years of high school you had five", Merle could simply say you're all wrong and suddenly the subject was changed. Usually to baseball and the arguing began again.

    Our Family is a miss mass of personalities & attitudes; Republicans, Democrats, a couple of Liberals (where they came from is anyone's guess) and I'd hazard a few Libertarians hiding in the shadows too. We Fight, Hug, Play hard Fish harder and when all is said and done, Love each other.

    I miss him today and I'm sure I'll miss him even more Tomorrow.
     
  3. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    It's funny how some things work out.

    Years ago Merle mentioned how he just wanted a simple and quiet Memorial Service devoid of any Pomp & Circumstance. No drawn out speech or big To-Do. On Monday the 12th of August in Chico, California, the Beale Honor Guard presented the Flag to his Daughter, then a Minister gave a short Eulogy. Short and Sweet just how he wanted it.
    A few minutes later I heard the sound of a radial engine. Behind us and just below the treetops a B17 was passing by. You could see the plane as it flew though openings in the trees, flying to the West, as if it was paying it's Last Respects but staying in the background as he would have wanted. I later found out the B17 Sentimental Journey from the Commemorative Air Force was in Chico that day. Pure coincidence or Providence I'll never know.

    In my mind I saw it as a Final Goodbye from him.
     
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  4. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    :rose:
     
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  5. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Well we didn't get to sit together today and have a drink and cigar so I fired up a Montecristo, poured a Scotch and just looked at the lake.
     
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  6. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    :rose:
     
  7. Otto

    Otto Spambot Nemesis Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    :s!: :poppy:
     
  8. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Two years ago we celebrated 99 years. Seems like last week.

    :rose: upload_2021-7-1_17-5-15.png :rose:
     
  9. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    :rose:
     
  10. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Great man, definitely. Glad you met him and had time to talk with him.
     
  11. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Patron  

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    Thank you ystavani. We all have that one person we can look up to, at least I hope so. Their influence never dies.
     
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  12. Prospero Quevedo

    Prospero Quevedo Active Member

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    Alive or dead for a man John Wayne and George Patton fora woman Debbie Reynolds and Deanna Durbin
     

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