JOPLIN, Mo. —
Retired U.S. Navy CTSC John E. Melhorn was born in Herrin, Ill., Aug. 12, 1920, to Benjamin and Lucy (Justice) Melhorn. He graduated from Herrin High School in 1938, after which he enlisted in the Navy.
He served in the Pacific Theater of War during World War II aboard the USS Dunlap in charge of the radio gang. His ship, the USS Dunlap, was on its way to Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and just missed the attack. The Dunlap entered the devastated Pearl Harbor, fueled up and got out of the harbor. His ship escorted the Doolittle Raiders for the raid on Japan. His ship was involved in the battles of Midway, Guatacanal and Iwo Jima, as well as many others. He was honorably discharged in October 1945, and returned to Herrin.
He wanted to get his father out of the coal mines so he took his savings from being at sea for six and a half years and opened a concrete block plant with his father. His younger brother later joined them and when it became apparent that the plant couldn't support three families, John re-enlisted in the Navy in 1950. He was an instructor at the Navy base in Imperial Beach, Calif., and Key West, Fla. In 1953, he transferred to the Naval Security Group and was stationed in Hawaii, the island of Cyrus and Scotland.
He retired and moved to San Diego in 1962, where he worked for the County of San Diego until 1973. He worked for Craw Kan Telephone Co. in Girard, Kan., from 1973 to 1975. In 1975, he opened his own business, J&A Communications in Girard. He moved to Joplin in 1995, and operated J&A Communications there until his retirement in 2008.
He married Lillie Jones in Herrin, in 1947. She preceded him in death in 1971.
In July 1973, he married Anita Graham Smith in Girard. She survives him.
He was baptized in the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii. His most recent church membership was with the Forest Park Baptist Church where he served as an Adult Sunday School teacher and deacon.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by a stepson, Roy (Beth) Smith, of Joplin; three sons, Daniel (Marilyn) Melhorn, Battleground, Wash., David (Claire) Melhorn, Bend, Ore., and Don (Denise) Melhorn, Elizabethtown, Ky.; and two daughters, Tammy (Rajab) Echessa, Springfield, Mo., and Ilene Townsend, Girard. Additional survivors include his granddaughters, Jeannine Birdsell (Jared), Ashley Melhorn, Amber Carson; and grandsons, James and John Kichler, Eric and Austin Melhorn, Ian and Kevin Melhorn as well as four great-grandchildren; and a brother, Ray (Jean) Melhorn, of Herrin. In addition to his first wife, he was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Bess Arrington.
Funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, March 2, at Forest Park Baptist Church, Joplin. Family will receive friends on Saturday at the church from 10 a.m. until service time. Burial will be in Fort Scott National Cemetery with full Military Honors on Monday, March 4.
Online condolence may be expressed at www.derfeltfuneralhomes.com
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