MERTEN L. MEADER

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MEADER MERTEN L. MEADER (Age 89) Lt. Colonel, US Air Force (Ret.) Lt. Colonel, retired Merten L. Meader passed away on September 29, 2012 at the Burnett Calvert Hospice House of congestive heart failure. He was surrounded by his family. Mert was born on January 11, 1923 in Clinton, Iowa. He grew up during the Great Depression along the banks of the Mississippi River in a cute and comfortable little house hand-built by his father. Here he spent many happy days fishing in the summer and playing ice hockey in the winter. He excelled in sports and, in fact, kept himself in top physical condition for the rest of his life. He graduated from Lyons High School and worked at a local grocery and setting pins at the Bowling Alley. He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942 and, soon after marrying his high school sweetheart, Marjorie Montgomery, he was off to basic training. One day during basic he read a notice on a bulletin board asking for volunteers for pilot training. During this early time of American involvement in World War II, the need for pilots was dire because so many experienced pilots were being lost in combat. Mert had always dreamed of being a pilot and found that he was eligible to take a test to qualify for pilot training and be transferred to the U.S. Army Air Corps. He passed the test and was sent to Marietta College, Ohio to begin officer training. Then he was shipped off to El Paso for flight training. After two very intense but very enjoyable years of increasingly difficult pilot training he became a qualified Boeing B-17 Command Pilot. He was transferred to the 8th Air Force, 388th Bomb Group in Knettishall, England to fly combat missions over Nazi occupied Europe. He flew four bombing missions in April, 1945 over Royan, France, Rochefort, France, and Dresden, Germany. He also piloted 4 missions to Amsterdam, the Netherlands to deliver food to the starving Dutch. After the war he and Marj left again for Marietta, Ohio where Mert used the G.I. Bill to get an Economics degree from Marietta College. After graduating from Marietta they went back to Clinton where Mert worked for Curtis Bros. & Co. That same year Mert, still in the reserves, was called back to duty with the new U.S. Air Force. He was initially stationed at Tinker Air Force Base (AFB) in Oklahoma flying C-47s and overseeing a bomber unit. He once told his family that the C-47 or "goonie bird" did not have a trim stabilizer. When someone went to the back of the plane to go to the bathroom the plane would tip upwards! The pilot had to adjust the controls to compensate for this. Instead of being sent to Korea during the war as he assumed he would be, Mert was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as an SA-16 (Albatross) pilot in the Air Sea Rescue Service. He never went to flight training for the new aircraft. He just jumped into the cockpit and flew as a pilot right away. He rescued many people during his time flying the SA-16, including often landing on the water in the amphibious plane to pick up accident and shipwreck survivors. While there he went from an as yet unqualified SA-16 pilot to command pilot to Squadron Assistant Operations Commander in just 2.5 years! This was quite an accomplishment! After Panama Mert was transferred to Maguire AFB to fly the C-118, which was a military variation of the Douglas DC-6 commercial airliner. From Maguire he flew regular missions as part of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) to Germany. Mert next completed his MBA at Wright Patterson Air Base, then again flew missions for MATS to Germany, this time stationed at Shaw AFB in Sumter, SC. Mert was finally sent to Korea for a tour without his family in 1962. After returning from Korea he was transferred to Hickam AFB, Hawaii. He had the pleasure of piloting the military transport aircraft that flew his family from the mainland to their new home in Hawaii. After Hawaii he was transferred to Scott AFB, Ill, and then to Washington DC for a tour with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In 1970 he volunteered for a combat tour in Vietnam where he flew the C-7 Caribou for the first half of his year-long tour. This small, short take-off and landing (STOL) transport aircraft was a crucial asset for resupply of forward bases on the front lines of combat. He regularly flew in and out of small, dirt landing strips. Often, as he approached for a landing, he was unsure of which side was in control of the base: U.S. forces, North Vietnamese or Viet Cong! He would land, watching closely for suspicious movements, and keep his engines at full throttle in case the plane was attacked so he could quickly take-off again. After missions, he and his crew regularly pried spent enemy bullets from the side of his plane. For the remainder of his tour he was the Deputy Base Commander of the U.S. military installation of Cam Ranh Air Base. After being shot at and surviving more than one base attack, he returned home to his family a changed man. He completed his AF career with tours as Comptroller of Andrews AFB and Assistant Comptroller of Bolling AFB. He retired from the Air Force after 23 years of service. After the Air Force he worked with NAVAIR as a Logistics Engineer for VEDA, Inc. After working at VEDA for 10 years Merten retired altogether to Port Republic, MD where he and Marj built their dream home on a cliff overlooking the Chesapeake Bay. With a beautiful view of the Bay he enjoyed working in his yard and the company of his family and beloved grandchildren. He hand-built them a swing-set in the lovely back yard, added beautiful cherry wood library cabinets to their den, and finished cherry cabinets to their laundry room. He also found great pleasure in traveling with Marj and simply enjoying her company. He was hit with a terrible blow when Marj was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the age of 75 but changed his life so that he could take care of her until her death in 2011 on her 88th birthday. She was the love of his life. He never got over her death and followed in her footsteps one year and five months later. We know that he is with her now ... and very happy. Merten is survived by his sister Eila Payson of Clinton, Iowa, his children Mark Meader of Waldorf, MD, Beth Meader and her husband Eric Darden of Owings, MD, and Guy Meader and his wife Deborah Alfaro Meader of Manassas, VA. He also is survived by his beautiful grandchildren Jessica Meader Olivarrio and her husband Johnathon of Tampa, FL, Catherine and Anna Darden of Owings, MD, and Ethan and Isabelle Meader of Manassas, VA. Mert will be buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery on January 14, 2013. Family and friends will meet at the Fort Myer Memorial Chapel, 101 McNair Rd., Fort Myer, VA 22211 at 12:30 for a small memorial service officiated by Reverend F. Paul Liersemann of First Lutheran Church, Sunderland, MD. Contributions may be made to Calvert Hospice, P.O. Box 82 Prince Frederick, MD 20678. Funeral arrangements were made by Lee Funeral Home, Owings, MD.Mert will be buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery on January 14, 2013. Family and friends will meet at the Fort Myer Memorial Chapel, 101 McNair Rd., Fort Myer, VA 22211 at 12:30 for a small memorial service officiated by Reverend F. Paul Liersemann of First Lutheran Church, Sunderland, MD. Contributions may be made to Calvert Hospice, P.O. Box 82 Prince Frederick, MD 20678. Funeral arrangements were made by Lee Funeral Home, Owings, MD.

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Lee Funeral Home Calvert, PA
8200 Jennifer Lane  Owings, MD 20736
(301) 855-0888
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Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 6, 2013
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