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West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Arthur Nello McMellon

"I came here to help these people. . ."

Sgt. Arthur N. McMellon

Arthur McMellon, called "Nello," was born November 14, 1932, at Griffithsville, West Virginia, one of five sons born to Frank and Garnett Lovejoy McMellon.

Nello attended Guyan Valley High School for three years before entering the Army in 1951. He saw action in Korea and was missing for 18 days but returned unscathed. Nello did not plan to make the Army a career, but, according to his mother, he re-entered the military because he was unable to find a job at home.

He began a tour of duty in Vietnam on September 16, 1965, and served as a mess sergeant with the U.S. 1st Infantry Division. While on duty at Ben Cat, South Vietnam, he became a favorite with the children of the area who would follow after him and climb on his jeep competing for the opportunity to wash it. They wrote a letter thanking the Americans for driving the Viet Cong out of Ben Cat. Sgt. Nello McMellon invited them to Thanksgiving Dinner. He had acquired enough turkeys for the men of the unit and the children, and he delighted the hungry youngsters with turkey drumsticks. Nello's Thanksgiving meal made the news.
Arthur Nello  McMellon
Sgt. McMellon with Nguyen Kim Loan during the Thanksgiving dinner at Ben Cat, November 1965.

A week later, on December 1, 1965, Sgt. Arthur N. McMellon was riding in a convoy of jeeps when he was killed by the blast of a road mine. The jeep he was riding in was one of many and it was suspected by intelligence officers that he was singled out to be killed.

The body of Sgt. McMellon was returned to the United States later that December and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, with the arrangements made by Representative Ken Hechler.


West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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