By Tom and Gail Merkle

Pop was always amazed that a Marine Fighter Squadron would so willingly adopt a crusty old Navy aviator. I still think about him saying, during our Nashville reunion, "I believe all the liquor at the bar in the Trip Trey ready room was stolen from the Navy. I'll have to reclaim it one glass at a time."

Pop was perhaps the last enlisted Naval aviator from the all-enlisted flight crews that flew the PB4Y-2 Privateer. He started as a radioman on the TBM Avenger and then went to Corpus Cristi TX for flight school.

He was a humble man and always had a twinkle in his eye when he spoke of his Navy days. His flying days were finished after he slipped off the wing of his Privateer during a fuel stop in Alaska. Severely broke his left leg and after a year the Navy couldn't patch him up enough to return to flying. So, he went on to become an electronics engineer with Sperry, where he helped design and operationally test the first passive ranging fire control system put on a submarine.

During our 2015 Charleston SC reunion, he got to see the beginning of his career (USS Yorktown) and his PONS system that was installed on the USS Clamagore during the GUPPY III mods in 1962. Seeing everything together gave Pop another chance to display his humor, "looks like all the museum pieces have been brought together, me included."

On behalf of Gail and I, please accept our sincerest thank you for bringing Pop into the Trip Trey Family, a place where he always felt welcomed.


From World War II to Operation Desert Storm. The "Fighting Shamrocks" from VMSB to VMFA have served and sacrificed gallantly every time it has been called upon. From the cold inside the Artic Circle at Bodo Norway to the heat and dirt of Balıkesir Turkey. Shamrocks have left their mark.


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