Melvin was born 31-OCT 1918.  His father was Julius Markus Sucharipa (1890-1965) and his mother was Julia Sucharipa (1890-1966).  Both of Melvin’s parents were born in Austria.  Julius and Julia arrived in New York in 1906.  

Melvin enlisted 25-AUG 1938 in the National Guard Co A 102nd Engineers. In 1940 his occupation was listed as a Shipping Clerk.  Melvin registered for the draft 27-AUG 1941.  He later enlisted and was placed in the Army Air Corps. Melvin married Helen Rossman on 29-MAR 1942.  Melvin served in the ARMY AIR Corps, 15th Air Force, 449th Bomb Group (Heavy),  717th Bomber Squadron as an airplane armorer-gunner on a B-24 Liberator as a waist gunner from 1943-1945.  Melvin had the distinction of being shot down during a bombing mission over the Polesti oil fields.  He parachuted to safety and with the help of Chetniks loyal to the U.S. made it safey back to his squadron.  Their story is chronicled in the book, “The Forgotten 500:  The Untold Story of the Men Who Risked All for the Greatest Rescue Mission of World War II” – by Gregory A. Freeman.  

This story contains mission and after action reports. Much of the reports are in their words.  For the rest of Mel’s story, click on the pdfs below.

Please contact the St. Charles County Veterans Museum Oral History project at or call 636-294-2657 for more information and lets’ talk. We want to hear from you because we know…Every Veteran has a story.