Thursday, January 1, 2015
MELVIN D. WESTBROOK
SEP. 2, 1922-DEC. 22, 2014
Melvin "Mel" Westbrook, of Turlock, was born into a farming family in Genoa, NE. He died at age 92 on Dec. 22.
Mel moved to Turlock in 1940 where he worked as a carpenter for H. A. Hubbard. During WWII he joined the US Army Air Corps, and as a B-24 pilot he flew 35 missions over Europe "on the books" and two OSS missions "off the books."
He was proud of his country and of his crew, only one (Richard Chapdelaine) of whom now survives him. Richard was a Tail Gunner who Mel considered to be the brother he never had. Mel loved to tell war stories and his family heard them almost daily. One of his favorite expressions was, "I got a million of 'em!"
Mel was an excellent carpenter, and after working all day he spent evenings and weekends building the house he and his wife, Barbara, shared together for over 50 years. Other hidden talents included his penchant for growing the best Stockton red onions, snowmobiling, playing guitar, a huge love of the outdoors, hunting (he was an excellent marksman) and fishing, and dancing.
Mel also loved his friends and community, where he involved himself in activities all over town. He was an active member of the Turlock Kiwanis Club, VFW and American Legion. He assisted in delivering pumpkins to local elementary schools, ushered at the fair, made enchiladas with the Soroptomist Club, and worked with the Arrowhead Club.
He had a smile and handshake for everyone, and as a member of the "greatest generation" he will be missed.
Mel is survived by his wife, Betty Westbrook, son Chris (Sheila) Westbrook, daughter Anne (Jim) Walls, step-children Byron, Joyce, Mark, and Joyce Anderson, Kari Doo, and one grandchild. His first wife, Barbara Westbrook, and son Kevin Westbrook, preceded him in death.
A visitation will be held at Turlock Funeral Home on Fri., Jan. 2, from 3 to 7 p.m., with funeral services to be conducted at the same location on Sat., Jan. 3, at 1 p.m. Private interment will take place at Turlock Memorial Park.
Dad flew as Navigator for Pilot Westbrook during their final months in the European Theater. This timeframe included the O.S.S. Missions into Neutral Sweden. Lt. Westbrook also piloted their final flight from England to the United States in late May of 1945.
Westbrook with his Bomber Crew:
"Civilian" Westbrook (2nd. from Right) in Sweden in early 1945 during layover on an O.S.S. clandestine supply mission.
Dad commented favorably to Mel's piloting skills during one especially harrowing night flight into Stockholm Sweden. While being "tracked" by a German radar equipped night fighter, Mel took the unarmed bomber down to wave top level over the North Sea to avoid the deadly advisery.
During another of these night missions the weather was terrible, with unbelievable cross winds. As Dad gave Mel navigation corrections, Mel could hardly believe the huge course changes Dad (Navigator) was dictating to him. Always the "Crews Pilot", Mel trusted Dads' Navigation skills and he followed the given course corrections getting them safely to their Swedish Airstrip.
Complete trust of your crew mates was an essential of survival.
Time marches on, the WW2 Veterans List quickly grows smaller.