A veteran of three wars, Lathrop’s Merle Green will celebrate his 100th birthday on Independence Day
Both previously widowed, Merle and Millie Green hoped when they were married in 1984 they would get
10 good years together. They’ve been blessed with nearly four decades of marriage.
By Brett Adkison, Leader Editor
Merle thanks God for his health and appreciates the time that is has afforded him. Both previously widowed, Merle and Millie married in 1984 and combined their families. At the time, they hoped for 10 good years together before they slowed down.
That was nearly four decades ago.
“You can’t survive by yourself,” said Merle, a lesson he learned flying during World War II. “You have to have help. I appreciate my family. They’ve been a lot of support to me. I want to tell the world that war is hell. But, if you’re in it, you’ve got to pick up and go. You have to have that determination and strength and love of country.”
Merle enlisted in the US Army Air Corps in the summer of 1942. After training, he was sent to the 64th Troop Carrier Squadron as an aircraft mechanic. Over the course of World War II, he flew for 1,500 hours, including time over the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.
He flew over the North Pole on three occasions. “It’s no big deal as long as the plane keeps running,” he joked.
He recalls one flight trip in the South Pacific when he and his crew-mates were testing out a new pilot. He was smart, but a bit of a hot shot. When the pilot declined to go around an ominous storm, Merle asked his crew pilot if he was going to let the rookie take such a big chance. The veteran responded it was best that the rookie learn a lesson about going around storms.
They immediately hit a down draft and the plane fell from the sky. Merle shifted the plane down a gear as the two pilots pulled as hard as they could on the sticks. Suddenly, the plane was going upward with the same intensity.
They had flown into a typhoon.
Pick up this week’s leader to read the full story.
Those who want to wish Merle a happy 100th birthday can do so on Sunday. He and Millie will be sitting outside of their home at 621 Valley Street in Lathrop from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. so that friends can drive-by, wave, honk, and drop off cards. There will be a large drive-by celebration at 12:15 p.m. (meet at the elementary parking lot).
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