Melvin Pollack

Veteran Tributes - Honoring Those Who Served


Rank, Service:
Lieutenant Colonel O-5,  U.S. Air Force

Veteran of:
U.S. Air Force 1964-1984
Cold War 1964-1984
Vietnam War 1967-1973 (POW)


Mel Pollack was born in 1942 in New York City. He graduated from New York University with a Bachelors Degree in Economics in June 1964, and then entered Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, on November 12, 1964. Pollack was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force on February 10, 1965, and then completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas, in March 1966. He then completed F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training before being assigned to the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Da Nang AB in the Republic of Vietnam in January 1967. Lt Pollack was forced to eject over North Vietnam while flying his 78th combat mission on July 6, 1967, and was captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,068 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, and then went back on flying status with the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing (the Wing's Motto was Return With Honor) at Homestead AFB, Florida, where he served from February 1974 to January 1978 as an instructor pilot flying the F-4. Col Pollack then served as an O-2 Milirole instructor pilot with the 549th Tactical Air Support Training Group at Patrick AFB, Florida, from July 1978 to December 1980, followed by service with the Directorate of Contracting and Support for the Eastern Space and Missile Center, also at Patrick, from January 1981 until his retirement from the Air Force on December 1, 1984. Mel is also a certified aircraft investigator and investigated six Class A fighter accidents prior to his retirement. After his retirement from the Air Force he started a very successful twenty-two year international civilian career in aviation, airports, aerospace and the space program, including many Department of Defense contracts dealing with space launch, tracking orbital debris, destroying chemical and biological weapons, maintaining classified aircraft, Army missile programs, and various other activities. He was also involved with airport and aerospace programs in China, Nepal, Mongolia, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, and India. Mel has two daughters, Tracey and Jodie.

His Silver Star Citation reads:

First Lieutenant Melvin Pollack distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as an F4C Pilot over North Vietnam on 6 July 1967. On that date, Lieutenant Pollack led his flight deep into hostile territory. Despite extremely heavy antiaircraft artillery fire, and with complete disregard for his personal safety, Lieutenant Pollack led his flight in a precision attack on the target. Through his skill and courage, all of the flight's ordnance was delivered on target. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Pollack has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.