CAPT Merle M. Hershey, USN
CAPT Merle M. Hershey was born at Universal, Pennsylvania in 1919, and received his early education in the public schools there. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Muskingum College, New Concord, Ohio, and entered flight training in the Naval Aviation Cadet Program in June of 1941. He was commissioned an Ensign and received his Naval Aviator's Wings in early 1942.
Assigned to Fighter Squadron Nine on board USS Ranger (CV-4), he assisted in supporting landings in North Africa in November, 1942, flying the Grumman F4F "Wildcat." Equipped with the F6F "Hellcat," his squadron moved aboard the newly commissioned USS Essex (CV-9) in early 1943 and went to the Pacific for offensive campaigns at Marcus, Wake, Rabaul, Tarawa, the Marshalls, Truk, Guam, and the Marianas.
In March of 1944, he served in Fighter Squadron 47 and then in Fighter Squadron 87 in USS Randolph (CV-15) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Forced down in Kagoshima Bay in Southern Kyushu, Japan, in 1945, he was rescued from deep in enemy territory by LT H.C. Watson of New York City, a seaplane pilot.
After WW II, CAPT Hershey was Officer-in-Charge of a Ground Controlled Approach Unit and made a South Polar trip with Admiral Byrd. He attended General Line School at Monterey, California in 1948-49 and was subsequently assigned as Executive Officer of fighter Squadron 61, which was equipped with Grumman "Panthers," during a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea on Board USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42). He served as Administration Officer at the Naval Air Station, Norfolk, and later was assigned as Assistant Operations Officer on USS Valley Forge (CV-45).
In 1955, he had command of Fighter Squadron 81 flying Grumman "Cougars" from USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVA-42) and USS Lake Champlain (CVA-39) in the Mediterranean. After Newport Naval War College in1957, he was assigned as Commander, Carrier Air Group Eight, on board USS Forrestal (CVA-59).
In 1960, he went to the Staff of Commander, Fleet Air Mediterranean in Naples, Italy, and after two years there he served on the Staff of the Chief of Naval Operations in Washington.
He served as Commanding Officer of USS Salisbury Sound (AV-13) from 10 March, 1964, to 25 February, 1965.
Among the decorations held by CAPT Hershey are two Distinguished Flying Crosses for combat in action in the Pacific.
CAPT Hershey was married to the former Elizabeth Walker of Columbus, Ohio. They have three daughters, Susan, Elizabeth, and Jane.