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Veteran Spotlight: Robert Bob Mellema United States Air Force

August 2022

Today we will be spotlighting Robert J. (Bob) Mellema.

Bob served in the United States Air Force as a pilot for 24 years and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel on December 31, 1973.

Bob signed up for the Army Aviation Cadet Program at the age of 17 in 1943. With no billets available at that time, he entered the reserves. When WWII ended in 1946 Bob was released from his active-duty obligation and attended college at the University of Southern California where he achieved his bachelor’s degree in finance.

Bob married in 1948 and has three children. He was recalled to active duty in 1951 during the Korean War, as a Private 1st Class.

He entered flight training in Texas where at the successful conclusion he was promoted to Staff Sargent and after completion of Officer Candidate School was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Bob’s first assignment as a pilot was in Alaska where he flew, short take-off and landing single engine planes, mostly on water and ice. Bob continued his military career at several duty stations and aviation related schools, including a stint in Rio De Janeiro at Joint Brazil, as a Military Assistance Advisor.

In 1969 and 1970 Bob was assigned to the 7th Air Force Headquarters in Vietnam where he flew classified missions which included flying General Westmorland and the US ambassador. Bob returned to the States because of a family illness in 1970 and was assigned as the officer in charge of flight testing at Hughes Aircraft in Southern California where he completed his service and retired from the United States Air Force in 1973. After retirement from military service, he stayed in Southern California, and had a successful career in Real Estate until his retirement from that career in 1991. He then moved to San Luis Obispo County to be near his daughter.

Bob was awarded numerous medals for his distinguished service as both a pilot in Vietnam as well as the Chief of Flight Test Operations at Hughes Aircraft Company including the, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (numerous), the Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal, American Defense Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal (numerous), the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.

Bob has stayed active in various Military Veterans Organizations and is a Lifetime Member of the Military Officer Association. He attended the Veterans Honor Flight to Washing DC in 2013 and prior to and since has been honored by numerous local and national politicians for his extraordinary service to our nation.

Thank you for your service!