Marvin L.(Mel) Crocker
1924 - 1989

Born:    1924, Texas
Parents:    Hervey W. & Sarah Ellen Crocker
Died:    1989, California

Marvin L. Crocker was born while his parents were living and working in Texas, about midway through their decade-long westward trek across the country. His adolescent years were spent in Southern Oregon as the family struggled through the Great Depression.

Military Service:    Mel served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, as an Aviation Radioman in PBY's, the Navy's sea plane. He finished his training and was sent with PBY Patrol Squadron Twelve (VP12) to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. From Guadalcanal he flew in night bombing raids, open sea rescues, hauling of freight and long over-water patrols as the Allies worked their way up the Solomon Islands driving back the Japanese.

While in Guadalcanal he was infected with malaria. During his stay in the hospital his crew crashed into the side of a mountain during a storm. All aboard perished.

When he returned to the States in August 1944 he was assigned to Astoria, Oregon. There he met Doris who he would later marry. The War ended as he was completing further training near Memphis, making further overseas duty unnecessary. He was discharged in early 1946 and he and Doris began their family in Medford, Oregon. They would eventually have five children. Mel and Doris were divorced in the late 1960's and he married Rockina in the early 1970's.

Singer:    Mel and his brother Glenn were the core of a popular barber shop quartet in Southern Oregon known as the Novelaires. They moved to Southern California in the mid 1950's hoping to make it in the entertainment industry They were hired by Douglas Aircraft as entertainers, performing at lunch and for special events as the Douglas Novelaires Quartet. They won the weekly competition on the "Rocket to Stardom" TV show, which got them gigs, but never got them into the 'big time.' Several years later, with a new group, they recorded "Drums in My Heart" and "Bowie Knife" as the Crocker Boys. This was well received in Southern Oregon, but got little, if any air time in areas that could have made either side a hit. They later learned that the record label had been blacklisted.

Author:    Mel began to seriously pursue a lifelong interest in writing, taking courses through correspondence and the local community college. He wrote a novel (Roanne) that was never published. His brother encouraged him to write about the aircraft that he was always talking about -- the PBY. After many years of research, contacting all the living PBY pilots and crewmembers that he could locate, he assembled their stories into Black Cats and Dumbos: World War II's Fighting PBYs, which was originally published in1987 by TAB Aero Books. It went out of print in 1989 and was republished by Crocker Media Expressions, the multimedia business of his eldest son, Gary and his wife Lynda.

Mel died of complications after heart surgery in early 1989.

Read his Eulogy.
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