As part of initiatives to increase public recognition of those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, Northwestern State University recognized the service of L.J. Melder of Natchitoches during Saturday’s basketball game for his service to the U.S. and the community.
Having served in the Pacific in 1945 to 1947 aboard Destroyer Escort USS Major, Melder is a World War II Navy Veteran. Though his rank was Storekeeper Disbursing Third Class he did not disburse supplies but handled payroll. He recalled going ashore at his home base in San Diego and “walking around loaded down with weapons and a sack full of money.” However, most of his time was spent onboard the Major shooting floating mines and waiting for his time to come home.
While most who use initials instead of their full names actually have full names, L. J., stands for L. J. He chuckled at the fact that the Navy could not register initials only. His records showed his name as L (only) J (only). So, he called himself Lonly Jonly throughout the war.
Melder’s favorite recollections of the Great War are actually those that led up to the war. He recalled the Louisiana Maneuvers and the miles of Jeeps and tanks that rolled through Natchitoches Parish and cavalry horses by the thousands; the Battle of Bermuda Bridge when the local Prud’homme boys, Alphonse, Kenneth, and Mayo, held up Major General George S. Patton, Jr.’s convoy with a small carbide cannon; and, how the general store constantly ran out of candy and soda because soldiers camped nearby enjoyed the treats.
Melder also acknowledged that of the 16 million men and women who served in World War II, 492 die per day. There are only 620,000 living and he appreciates NSU’s efforts to recognize their service.
To nominate a Veteran for recognition at an upcoming NSU event, please contact Sid Hall, NSU’s Military Affairs Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 357-6951.