Melvin Bernard Meyer was born on March 2, 1919, in Overland, Missouri to Anna and Henry Meyer. He was one of six siblings: Florence (Gene); Harold (Elsa); Julius (Dorothy); Adele (Harold), Melvin, and Alice (John). Melvin married Vivian Meyer (nee Tippit) and they had one daughter, Marilyn Ann, who was born on October 28, 1943, prior to Melvin leaving for the war.
The family of Melvin Meyer, the B-17G bombardier who died when his plane was shot down in 1944, is now making plans to lay him to rest, 79 years later.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced they accounted for US Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Melvin B. Meyer on Sept. 9, 2022.
During World War II, Meyer was assigned to the 569th Bombardment Squadron, 390th Bombardment Group, 13th Bombardment Wing, and 8th US Army Air Force. He was a part of the bombing mission over Leipzig, Germany, on May 29, 1944.
The B17 Bomber, on a mission to the heart of Germany, was ambushed by German Air Force – Luftwaffe – fighters, caught fire, and came crashing down 28 miles northeast of the German city.
Six crew members parachuted to safety; including Co-Pilot 2nd Lt. Robert E. “Bob” Patterson; Radio Operator Staff Sgt. Weldon A. Pillow; Waist Gunners Staff Sgt. Lester A. Miller, Staff Sgt. William J. “Bill” Striffler; Tail Gunner Staff Sgt. Joe Finch, and Staff Sgt. George Hauskins. All became prisoners of war.
The plane crashed near Horst, Germany, and the remaining crew members – Pilot 1st Lt. Carl Nesbitt; Navigator 2nd Lt. Wayne L. Dyer; Bombardier 1st Lt. Melvin Meyer; Tech. Engineer and Top Turret Gunner Tech. Sgt. Lyle Larson are thought to have died on impact.
The prisoners of war said in their debrief that Meyer was last seen helping the gunner, Larson, who had been wounded by a .22 mm shell, don his parachute. The parachute failed to open. Larson’s remains were discovered later to be buried in a local cemetery.
The young World War II bombardier was declared non-recoverable on April 21, 1953.
DPAA’s predecessor organization, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, discovered the crash site in July 2012. In 2019, the DPAA contracted History Flight, Inc. to excavate.
The remains discovered were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for scientific analysis. DPAA scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, while scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.
After the war, both Vivian and Marilyn lived with Melvin’s family in Overland, Missouri for a few years. Sadly, Marilyn passed away on April 4, 1957. Her mother died in the spring of 2022.
Melvin Meyer’s name is still etched on the Tablets of the Missing at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission graveyard in Hombourg, Belgium. There is now a rosette next to his name, indicating that he has finally been found.
He is survived by his nieces and nephews, JoAnn Hogan, Roy Helwig, Joan Fribis Baker, Carol Fribis Key, Linda Fribis Hoffman, John Meyer, and Jack Fribis, in addition to numerous great-nieces, great-nephews and extended family members.
His father, Henry Meyer; mother, Anna Meyer (nee Ebbesmeyer); wife, Vivian Meyer Helwig (nee Tippit); daughter, Marilyn Meyer; sister Florence Meyer Lebeau; brother Harold Meyer; brother Julius Meyer; sister Adele Meyer Helwig; and sister Alice Meyer Fribis are all deceased.
Memorials may be made to History Flight, Inc. 317 Williams St. Suite #1, Fredericksburg, VA 22401, who were instrumental in excavating the crash site and bringing our loved one home.