On Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, Lieutenant Colonel Marlo Mellum (USAF, Retired) passed away at the age of 69 in Duluth, Minn.
He was born on May 4, 1951, in Littlefork, Minn., to Donald and Viola (Hartje) Mellum. His youth was spent in International Falls, Minn., where he graduated from Indus High School. Because of Marlo’s athletic prowess as a hockey player, he was competitively selected to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1975. To date, he is still considered one of the all-time leading hockey scorers at the Academy. On Sept. 18, 1976, he married the love of his life, Kim Louise Baker, in Barrington, Ill.
Upon finishing his flight training in Phoenix, Ariz., he was selected to be a T-38 instructor pilot–only the top graduates are selected for such a dangerous and demanding duty. Once his instructor pilot tour was completed, he was chosen to be an F-111 fighter pilot at Mountain Home, ID. He went on to complete a tour at Upper Heyford, England, in the F-111. During this tour, he was picked to attend the Air Force’s prestigious Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. He then returned to his F-111 unit in England as the Weapons Officer and F-111 Instructor Pilot. Due to his highly successful flying tour in the F-111, he was selected for a very coveted tour as an international exchange pilot where he flew the British Panavia Tornado and the Hawker Hunter fighter with the Royal Air Force at Honington, England.
After his exchange tour, he was reassigned to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., to attend the Air Force Air Command and Staff College. His next assignment brought him to the Joint Electronic Warfare Center at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. During Operation Desert Storm, he was temporarily assigned to USCENTAF (Central Command Air Forces) in Saudi Arabia where he was instrumental in transferring sensitive communications technology to our Arab coalition warfighting forces which greatly enhanced communication and coordination during airstrikes on Iraq.
He was then reassigned for 15-months to 6 (ATAF) Allied Tactical Air Forces in Turkey. Due to his fighter weapons expertise, Lt Col Mellum was “hand-picked” to return to San Antonio to become the 19th Air Force Director of Operational Readiness. This position was critical in the seamless transition of operational combat training bases into Air Education and Training Command (AETC). After this three-year tour, he was chosen for the AETC Inspector General’s team where he flew the T-38 and conducted operational evaluations of flying units around the Command.
He retired his call signs of Pac-Man and Puck on Sept. 30, 2000, in San Antonio, Texas. Marlo’s contemporaries considered him to be the “Fighter Pilot’s Fighter Pilot” and he was truly the Air Force’s quintessential definition of a “Knight of the Air.”
Marlo’s life was centered around his faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He was an active member of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church in San Antonio, Texas, (Crown of Life Lutheran), and International Falls, (St. Paul Lutheran). He devoted his time serving at both churches. He took pride in sharing his faith with his daughters and others. In his spare time, Marlo enjoyed being outdoors, gardening, woodworking, and hunting. He also loved watching John Wayne and western movies.
Marlo will be lovingly remembered by his wife, Kim, of 44 years, and his children, Briana Smith (Jay), Brittany Mellum Schoen (Brian), Bethany Mellum, and Brackin Miggins (Brook). He will also be remembered by his three grandchildren, Hunter, Kempton, and Kannon, by his sisters Heidi Swenson and Nancy Christenson, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Marlo was preceded in death by his father, Donald, and his mother, Viola.
A private funeral service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in International Falls, at St. Paul Lutheran Church with Reverend Jacob Quast presiding. A celebration of Marlo’s life will be held on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020, in San Antonio, at Crown of Life Lutheran Church.
Memorials may be sent to the University of Minnesota Foundation for Center for Lung Science and Health (CLSH) research. Gifts may be made on-line at www.giving.umn.edu/giveto/clsh or checks mailed to U of M Foundation, PO Box 860266, Minneapolis, MN, 55486-0266 in memory of Marlo D. Mellum.