Clifford "Cliff" Stanley Mehelich

2021-06-27T16:10:57-05:00
Navy Badge
  • Name: Clifford "Cliff" Stanley Mehelich
  • Location of Birth: Grand Rapids, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: January 29, 1923
  • Date of Death: November 2, 1999
  • Parents: Clifford Mehelich & Margaret (Smith) Mehelich
  • High School and Class: 1941 Greenway High School, Coleraine, Minnesota
  • College: 1947 Itasca Junior College, Coleraine, Minnesota
    1949 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota - Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering
  • Highest Rank: LT (Lieutenant)
  • Branch: Navy
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: February 3, 1943
  • Place Sworn In:
  • Date of Discharge:
  • Place of Discharge:
  • Military Awards:

  • Military Highlights:
    WW II Draft Registration Cards – 10/16/1940 – 03/31/1947
    State: Minnesota
    Name: Clifford Stanley Mehelich
    Race: White
    Age: 19
    Birth Date: January 29, 1923
    Birth Place: Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA
    Residence Place: Balsam Township, Itasca, Minnesota, USA
    Registration Date: June 30, 1942
    Employer: Oliver Iron Mining Co., Coleraine, Minnesota
    Weight: 165
    Height: 5-10
    Complexion: Ruddy
    Eye Color: Blue
    Hair Color: Brown
    Other characteristic: Scar - right hand - index finger
    Next of Kin: C. V. Smith, Route 2, Bovey, Minnesota

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – March 10, 1944 – “NAVAL AVIATION CADET – Clifford S. Mehelich, 21, brother of Miss Eunice E. Mehelich of Bovey, was recently appointed a Naval Aviation Cadet and was transferred to the Naval Training Center, Pensacola, Fla., for intermediate flight training. Upon completion of the intensive course at the “Annapolis of the Air”, Cadet Mehelich will receive his Navy “Wings of Gold” with the designation of Naval Aviator, and will be commissioned an Ensign in the Naval Reserve or a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve.”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – June 9, 1944 – “Pensacola, Florida. May 25, 1944. Dear Friends: Heeding the warning in this week’s Bovey Press, I hasten to submit my paragraph. At this time I would like to compliment all you people connected with the various clubs and aids to service men. You are doing wonderful work, and I will vouch that it is highly appreciated. In other words: Thanks for your welcome letters and the Bovey Press. It’s really swell. As probably few of you know, I am still a lowly cadet in Naval Aviation. I am in my last phase now and if all goes well, shall be commissioned soon. Many of you would be surprised to see the great resemblance Pensacola has to some Minnesota towns. When I was on my way down here, I expected to see palm trees and plantations. Well, they are both here, but in addition I find numerous pine trees and numerous mills. Golly, what a shock they were to my picture of Florida. This spring proved to be wet, but now the sun has got the range and we are really in for some direct hits of hot weather. Contrary to Bovey and its surroundings, I will agree that as a whole Pensacola is all right. (As a hole!). My hat is off to all of you at home. You really must be pulling your weight now with the mines open. Golly, what a change war can bring! Just think, women in the washing plant. Gosh! A man won’t have much to do when he comes home. Just a little house work, maybe the washing, and then the rest of the day off to spend with the boys – fishing and gabbing about Mr. Blank’s new hat. Hey, don’t get me wrong, but I just couldn’t resist the temptation. Seriously, I do believe that I’d trade all these southern belles for just a glimpse of a northern lady. Yes, sir! If anyone says southern belle to you, just tell them that they may be belles, but they are all wrung out. But now I’m getting homesick. So before I break down in tears; Good luck and wishes to you all. With a community like you behind fellows like me, who says we won’t put those other guys where they belong? Sincerely, Cliff Mehelich.”

    Newspaper article: 1944 – “Clifford Mehelich, who is a graduate of Greenway high school in Coleraine, graduated July 15 from the Naval Aviation School at Pensacola, Florida as an ensign and has been transferred to Miami, Florida for operational training. He is a grandson of Mr. and Mrs. C. V. Smith of Balsam township and of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Mehelich.”

    Newspaper article: 1944 – “U.S. Naval Air Training Center, Pensacola, Fla. – Clifford S. Mehelich, 21, brother of Miss Eunice E. Mehelich of Bovey, won his Navy “Wings of Gold” and was commissioned an Ensign in the Naval Reserve this week following completion of the prescribed flight training course at the Naval Air Training Center, Pensacola, Florida, the “Annapolis of the Air.” Having been designated a Naval Aviator, Ensign Mehelich will go on active duty at one of the Navy’s air operational training centers before being assigned to a combat zone.”

    Newspaper article: Bovey Press, Bovey, Minnesota – January 26, 1945 – “January 18th. Dear Ann: Just a note of thanks and admiration to you. Your Christmas card came right along on schedule. Received it the 24th. Nice timing. But guess you have a lot of experience in that sort of thing. I, too, regret not seeing you in October when I was home on leave. Guess at the time you had hurried off to the cities. The Press arrives every week. Sure does keep the home front close and up-to-date. I thank you for it, knowing you shall relay any thoughts to the correct parties responsible for it. I am with Air Group One, in Torpedo Squadron One. We are ready to stand the test. A fine group of fellows – but bad medicine for the Japs. Hello to everyone! Cliff Mehelich.”


  • Wars Involved:
    World War II
    Korean War

  • MIA / POW:
    Newspaper article: August 1945 – “Mr. and Mrs. Fred Smith had a call from Mrs. Clifford Mehelich on Tuesday evening informing them her husband, Ensign Clifford Mehelich, has been reported missing in action in the Pacific. Ensign Mehelich is a nephew of the Smiths.”

    Newspaper article: September 1945 – “Mrs. Clifford Mehelich of Sioux City, Iowa, who has been visiting at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Smith during the past several weeks, recently received a letter from Ensign Mehelich’s squadron commander, who saw Mehelich’s plane, a torpedo bomber, go down over enemy territory. The commander said that when he last saw Ensign Mehelich, he was alive and on a raft in Japanese waters. Mrs. Mehelich left on Friday to return to her home at Sioux City. Her husband, Clifford Mehelich, is a nephew of Mr. Smiths.”

    Newspaper article: September 1945 – “Several months ago this paper printed the news that Ensign Clifford Mehelich, a nephew of Fred Smith, was reported missing in action in waters near Japan. Now we are glad to report that Ensign Mehelich was recently released from a Japanese prison camp and has arrived in the States. His wife, who makes her home at Sioux City, Iowa, recently visited in Coleraine at the Smith home.”

    Lieutenant Mehelich served in the Naval Air Force as a TBM Avenger pilot, serving on the USS Bennington. He was a POW during WW II at Hakodate POW Extension Camp #1 (formerly Kamiso Hokkaido Island) and was released by September 27, 1945.

    Story from Fold3 genealogy website: “Stories about C. Mehelich – Shot down…taken prisoner – 15 July 1945 – Near Rumoi Japan – ‘In adverse weather, 15 TBM’s took off, on this occasion to fly across Hokkaido to its western coast to bomb industrial installations in Rumoi.’ (Official Navy History of VT-1, pg 7). Ens Mehelich’s plane was shot down (or possibly damaged by their own bombs) during this attack on Rumoi Japan. A low overcast of 900-1000’ necessitated they drop their four 500-pound bombs at dangerously low altitudes. They ditched 15-20 miles off shore and all three successfully got in to their life raft. They were later captured by the Japanese military and on July 20th radioman ARM3c Joseph Dortsch ‘was beaten to death by a group of Japanese fishermen upon being landed from a boat by the Japanese military’. Ens Mehelich and gunner AOM3c Ernest Davis would survive and they spent the remainder of the war in a Japanese POW camp. The airplane they flew that day was a model TBM-3E with side #108 (bureau #86132).”

  • Civilian Life:
    Cliff Mehelich married Dorothy Huntley in Iowa in 1945 and they later divorced. He married Viola Matteson Smith in 1976 in Michigan. He worked as a sales engineer for Minnesota Mining Co. for 10 years; was vice-president of sales for Metal Improvement Co. for 23 years; was a member Grand Rapids VFW Post No. 1720, the American Association of Retired Persons, the Cohasset 50 Plus Club, the Bass Lake Association and the Hibbing, Minnesota P.O.W. Club.

    Cliff died in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Coleraine, Minnesota (Block 59). He is survived by his wife, Viola; his former wife, Dorothy Mehelich; one daughter, Kim Oja; one son, Michael Mehelich; four stepsons, Charles, Edward, Glenn, and Gene Smith; two sisters, Eunice Huffer and Nellie Gathje; two brothers, Paul and David Plude; fifteen grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his parents, Clifford & Margaret Mehelich; a daughter, Nancy Martell; and a son, Frank Mehelich.

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):