LCDR Merrill Herman "Mel" Hofer USNR (Ret.
LCDR Merrill "Mel" Herman Hofer, USNR (Ret.) of Peoria, AZ, unexpectedly left for Heaven on May 19, 2016. Merrill was born during a blizzard on March 21, 1923 on a farm in Camanche, Clinton Co., IA to Rachel Marine (Johnston) and Earl Baker Hofer. His grandparents were Katherine Marie (Baker) & Herman August Hofer and Margaret Taylor (McAfee) & Thomas Samuel Johnston. Following high school graduation in 1941, he enlisted in the Navy. He served aboard the carrier USS Enterprise during the Battle of Midway, Battle of Santa Cruz, and several other Pacific engagements during World War II. He married his sweetheart Mildred "Millie" Elizabeth Johnson on June 22, 1943 in Low Moor, Clinton Co., IA. Earning his wings as a Naval Aviator fulfilled a childhood dream. After several duty stations, moves with his family, and squadron assignments (which included participation in numerous atomic bomb tests in the South Pacific, and serving as part of the North American Defense Command out of Argentia, Newfoundland), Merrill retired from the Navy in 1964. United Airlines hired him as a Flight Operations Instructor for pilot training in Denver, CO in 1965. Many students and trips around the world later, he retired again in 1985. Almost ten more years of Colorado's cold and snow prompted Mel and Millie to move to the "Valley of the Sun" in 1995. They have never regretted that decision. Merrill is survived by his wife, Mildred of Peoria, AZ; daughter, Sherrill Kerbaugh (John) of Aurora, CO; son, Jeff Hofer (Debbie) of Lutz, FL; granddaughter, Jennifer Dierker (Paul Edmondson) of Castle Rock, CO; grandson, Scott Kerbaugh (Sharon) of Scottsdale, AZ; grandson, Jon Kerbaugh (Laura) of Woodbridge, VA; great-grandchildren, Erica & Sarah Kerbaugh of AZ, Brendan & Megan Dierker of CO, and Jonathan & Joseph Kerbaugh of VA; sister, Maureen Kelleher of GA; brother, Loren Hofer (Lorraine) of FL; many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Merrill was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Margaret Holmes; brother, Otis Hofer; brothers-in-law, Danny Kelleher & Jimmy Holmes; sister-in law, Alice Mae Hofer; nephew-in-law, Paul Stevens; and great-niece, Kelly Stevens. Our Mel was one of a kind and has left our hearts and minds full of love, wonderful memories, and a lifetime of stories. He will be missed by many people. What a ride, Mel … what a ride! Merrill's ashes will be interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix at a later date. Memorial gifts in the name of Merrill H. Hofer may be contributed to either of the following: The Plaza Del Rio Foundation Scholarship Fund, 13373 N. Plaza Del Rio Blvd., Peoria, AZ 85381 or National Naval Aviation Museum, 1750 Radford Blvd., NAS Pensacola, FL 32508 Visit this person's Guest Book at www.yourwestvalley.com
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