- The Enterprise
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Merten L. Meader, 89, of Port Republic died Sept. 29, 2012, at the Burnett-Calvert Hospice House surrounded by his family.
He was born Jan. 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. There, he spent many happy days fishing in the summer and playing ice hockey in the winter. He excelled in sports and 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. He had always dreamed of being a pilot and found 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 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 France and Germany. He also piloted four missions to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, to deliver food. After the war, he received an economics degree from Marietta College. After graduating, he and his wife returned to Iowa, where he worked for Curtis Bros. & Co. That same year, he was called back to duty with the U.S. Air Force. He was initially stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma flying C-47s and overseeing a bomber unit. He was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone as an SA-16 (Albatross) pilot in the Air Sea Rescue Service. 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 became a squadron assistant operations commander in just two-and-a-half years.
After Panama, he was transferred to Maguire AFB to fly the C-118. He flew regular missions as part of the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) to Germany. He next completed his master’s in business at Wright-Patterson AFB, then again flew missions for MATS to Germany, this time stationed at Shaw AFB in Sumter, S.C. He was sent to Korea for a tour without his family in 1962. Then he was transferred to Hickam AFB, Hawaii. He piloted 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, D.C., for a tour with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. In 1970, he volunteered for a combat tour in Vietnam. 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 career with tours as comptroller of Andrews AFB and assistant comptroller of Bolling AFB. He retired after 23 years of service and worked with NAVAIR as a logistics engineer for VEDA Inc. After working at VEDA for 10 years, he retired altogether to Port Republic, where he and his wife built their dream home on a cliff overlooking the Chesapeake 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 backyard, added cherry wood library cabinets to their den and finished cherry cabinets to their laundry room. He also found great pleasure in traveling with his wife and simply enjoying her company. He was hit with a terrible blow when his wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 75, but changed his life so 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.
He is survived by his sister, Eila Payson of Clinton, Iowa; children, Mark Meader of Waldorf, Beth Meader and her husband, Eric Darden, of Owings and Guy Meader and his wife, Deborah Alfaro Meader, of Manassas, Va.; and grandchildren, Jessica Meader Olivarrio and her husband, Johnathon, of Tampa, Fla., Catherine and Anna Darden of Owings and Ethan and Isabelle Meader of Manassas, Va.
Family received friends Jan. 14 at Fort Myer Memorial Chapel in Fort Myer, Va., for a memorial service officiated by the Rev. F. Paul Liersemann of First Lutheran Church in Sunderland.
Interment with full military honors followed at Arlington National Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Calvert Hospice, P.O. Box 82, Prince Frederick, MD 20678.
Arrangements were provided by Lee Funeral Home in Owings.