The Meroneys – Father & Son

Colonol Virgil K. MeroneyVirgil Meroney was born on February 16, 1921, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He enlisted in the Arkansas National Guard on May 24, 1937, and was activated on December 23, 1940. Sgt Meroney entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on March 27, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Luke Field, Arizona, on October 30, 1942.

After completing fighter training, he was assigned to the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group at Westover Field, Massachusetts, in December 1942, and completed P-47 Thunderbolt training in January 1943. Lt Meroney deployed with the group to England in June 1943, and was credited with the destruction of 9 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 1 damaged, before being shot down by flak and taken as a Prisoner of War on April 8, 1944. Capt Meroney escaped from captivity on April 7, 1945, and made his way to American forces on April 19, 1945.

After returning to the U.S., he served as a flying instructor at Luke Field from August 1945 to January 1946, and then served as Assistant Base Operations Officer at Selfridge Field, Michigan, until September 1947. His next assignment was with the 27th Fighter Group at Kearney AFB, Nebraska, and then at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, from September 1947 to November 1950, followed by service as commander of the 561st Fighter Escort Squadron of the 12th Fighter Escort Group at Turner AFB, Georgia, and then at Bergstrom AFB, where he served from November 1950 to September 1954.

During this time, Col Meroney deployed to England from July to December 1951, to Kwajalein Island from September to November 1952, and to Japan from May to August 1953. While in Japan, he managed to fly several combat missions in Korea. He was commander of the 7th Fighter-Bomber Squadron of the 49th Fighter-Bomber Group in Japan from October 1954 to August 1956, and then commander of the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, at Itazuke AB, Japan, from August 1956 to August 1957.

Col Meroney’s next assignment was as Air Force Advisor to the Missouri Air National Guard at Lambert Field, Missouri, from September 1957 to August 1960, followed by service as commander of the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George AFB, California, from August 1960 to December 1961, deploying to Germany during the Berlin Crisis from March to July 1961. He was Director of Operations for the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing, also at George AFB, from December 1961 to June 1962, and then moved with the wing to Homestead AFB, Florida, where he served from June 1962 to July 1963.

His next assignment was as commander of the 77th Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Wethersfield, England, from July 1963 to September 1964, and then as Assistant Deputy Commander for Operations of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, also at RAF Wethersfield, until May 1965. Col Meroney served as Air Liaison Officer to Headquarters 7th Army in Stuttgart, West Germany, from May 1965 to August 1966, and then was Deputy Commander for Operations of the 479th Tactical Fighter Wing at George AFB from August 1966 to February 1968.

Colonol Virgil K. Meroney & Son, Captain Virgil K. MeroneyHe deployed to Southeast Asia in February 1968, where he served as Deputy Commander for Operations and then Vice Commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from February 1968 to February 1969. During this time, Col Meroney flew 141 combat missions in the F-4 Phantom II, and managed to fly at least two combat missions with his son, Lt Virgil K. Meroney, III, before his son was killed in action in March 1969. His final assignment was as Assistant Chief of Safety and then Chief of Safety with Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from February 1969 until his retirement from the Air Force on December 31, 1970. Virgil Meroney died on June 27, 1980.

Colonol Virgil K. Meroney & Son, Captain Virgil K. Meroney