KSLA Salutes: 96-year-old recalls training pilots during World War II

Mary Melson shows off pictures of her life back during World War II.
Mary Melson shows off pictures of her life back during World War II.(Lydia Earhart)
Updated: Jun. 11, 2020 at 10:44 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) —There were many brave men who fought during World War II, but men weren’t the only ones fighting.

“I had one pilot come back and thank me because he said if it hadn’t been for that last lesson, we would be gone," Mary Melson said.

In 1944, she left college and decided to join the Navy.

“I liked the uniforms; they were better looking than anybody else’s."

Meslon attended boot camp and originally was supposed to be a control tower operator.

“I didn’t want to be in a control tower up there with just two other people for heaven’s knows how long. So next thing was link training."

Her job was to train pilots in instrument flying.

“They were land-based bombers off the coast where the German submarines were out in the Atlantic and the planes were prop planes and there were not that many instruments in planes at that time."

For Melson, she enjoyed not only her job but also those who worked alongside her.

“I’m not a hero and lots of us were not heroes. But there were people taking care of the mail, and there were people cooking and all of these things that just go on in everyday life."

She did not leave the military empty-handed when she was honorably discharged in December 1945.

“Lucky me, one of my students and I fell in love. And he was a pilot. So we decided we would just go ahead and get married, and so that’s when I got out."

A long marriage, five kids and many years later, Melson’s still proud to have served her country and she’s still finding a way to keep everyone on their toes.

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