Mel Kusin is the embodiment of the greatest generation and former student from 1942-43 at The University of Texas, before joining the US Army and serving in WWII. Mel graduated high school in 1942 at age 16 with his eyes set on Austin and UT.
|Mel Kusin, WWII Vet, LHAB Alum|
He boarded a Greyhound bus to Austin, upon arrival asked for directions to the UT campus, walked in with a copy of his transcript and enrolled. Tuition was $35 per semester. He found a room at a nearby boarding house and walked over to the band hall to join the Longhorn Band as a baritone player.
But he was called to duty and his unit was assigned to General Patton’s Third Army and Mel arrived in Bastogne, Belgium just days after the Battle of the Bulge. It had been a turning point of the war, with both sides suffering heavy casualties but Germany left permanently weakened. His combat ended on V-E Day, May 8, 1945, WWII ended after Japan’s surrender.
The return of American soldiers was based on priority, married with children first, married without kids next, and so on. So he stayed a while. He was redeployed to Rheims, France as a musician to play big band music for soldiers. On the first anniversary of V-E day, his band led a giant celebratory parade down the Champs Elysees. Just behind him in jeeps waving to the crowd were General Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle.
After the war, Mel returned to the states going to college on the G.I. bill at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign earning a degree in marketing. After marrying and beginning a family, he moved back to Texas to help in the family furniture business in Texarkana for over 40 years.
|Mel Kusin, Dr Scott Hanna, LHB|
Never one to rest on his laurels, Mel helped create the Dallas World Affairs Council in 1998, bringing distinguished university professors to Dallas to address U.S. foreign policy issues during lunch and learn sessions. At 85 after serving as a judge at the World Chili Cook-off, Mel decided he could make better chili than the winners, so he started his own company selling his mix, The Devil’s Own Chili.
We’re proud to have Mel represent the Longhorn Alumni Band and he plans to attend the 75th D-Day Anniversary in Normandy France in June 2019 organized by Historic Programs.
Registration for this LHAB one-time event is still open.
Mel was interviewed by KDFW FOX 4 at his home in Dallas recently, along with Bill Phillips, Normandy steering committee chair and Dr Scott Hanna, Longhorn Band Director.
See this only on KDFW-FOX 4 by reporter Richard Ray.