Joe B. Merello
U. S. Army
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 05/22/1944 - 6/5/1946
Radio Operator, 3rd Tank Bn, 3rd Army

Joe was born at Saint Luke's Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri, a fraternal twin to his brother, George. They lived on one acre beside the Mississippi River. His parents were Irene Reece Merello and Joseph Merello, an Italian immigrant and a dining car steward. Inspired by a bugler in grade school, Joe asked for and received a trumpet as a Christmas gift. He became bugler for his school, his first stop along a musical career. He soon won a national trumpet competition. Joe graduated from high school in 1942 and worked for two years on a small farm his father had purchased near St. Clair, Missouri. He and George were drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. George, found to be asthmatic, was released from service. Joe was sent to radio school where he learned Morse code. As he sailed to Europe on the Queen Mary, he formed a band and played during the voyage. Jo went ashore on the continent at LeHavre as part of Headquarters Company of Third Battalion (he doesn't recall the regiment or division). As part of a three-man team, he manned a radio, mounted in a half-track. He was usually stationed, he says, about halfway between headquarters and the front lines. Joe picked up his trumpet again soon after the war when he assembled a band, numbering around twenty, to play at noon chow. General George S. Patton, Jr. put the group on band duty only. The group was stationed at Berchtesgaden (Hitler's old mountain retreat) and played around Europe. On Patton's request, Joe also helped form a drum and bugle corps for "some kind of celebration." The band played for about six months. Joe sailed home and was discharged at Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. Using the GI Bill, he entered St. Louis Institute of Music in Clayton, Missouri. There he met Agnes Salandra, and married her in 1947. They would have two children, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. Joe was also playing with the St. Louis Symphony while in college, and continued after graduation. He also taught music lessons, founding a music school in Overland, Missouri. He grew ill from some service-related nerve damage and spent a year in the hospital. Joe eventually closed his school and joined Aeolian Piano Company in St. Louis where he learned also to repair and refurbish pianos.