1st Lieutenant Merle Pearson of Salinas CA. turned 100 today. Pearson was born in Nebraska and had a passion for airplanes. His passion took him to the military where he became a pilot. Not just any pilot, Pearson flew the well known Lockheed P-38 Lightning in World War 2.
Introduced in 1941, the P-38 is a piston-engined fighter aircraft that was developed for the US Army Air Corps. The aircraft is known for its unique twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. The P-38 has a top speed of 443 MPH and a range of 1305 miles.
This story is touching to us as we are right down the street from French Valley Airport (KF70), where we see P-38’s flying in from time to time. A very rare bird to say the least, and then we discover one of the WW2 heroes turned 100 today. Very cool!
Pearson credits his amazing 100 years to an enormous amount of love from his family. Pearson’s love affair with his wife Pauline was so passionate, he named his airplane after her and painted it on the aircraft. He is still surrounded by many family members today including his kids, grandson and many family members that still reside in the Salinas Valley.
Family members tell us his faith in humbleness is a testimony to his unfailing belief in God and Jesus Christ.
Happy Birthday Merle! We are honored to cover this story celebrating such a historic day. God Bless.