More than 68 years after leaving Texas A&M to be immediately inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces, three members of the Class of 1944 are all active in the Abilene A&M Club.
Pictured in the photo (from left) are Ed Melson '44, William G. “Dub” Pritchett '44 and Harry Swofford '44.
The three men were reared during the hard times of the Great Depression and, though their finances were very limited, each had a strong determination to get a degree from A&M.
Melson was from Mount Vernon in Northeast Texas and was in Battery C Field Artillery at A&M. He worked three part-time jobs at 30 cents per hour in order to pay bills and stay in school. One of his jobs was waiting tables in Sbisa. He received a B.S. degree
in agricultural education in 1946 after returning from the war.
Ed was inducted into the Army in 1943 with the entire Class of ’44 and served with the 11th Armored Division in the European Theater as a second lieutenant. After graduation, Ed worked for 23 years in marketing with Humble Oil Co. (Exxon), after which he was
the owner of Ed Melson Volkswagen Dealership in Abilene.
Ed’s brother, his son, and seven grandchildren are all Aggies.
Swofford was from Rankin in West Texas and was in A Cavalry at A&M and also a member of Sbisa Volunteers and Saddle & Sirloin. In addition to waiting tables in Sbisa, he also worked other jobs in order to stay in school. He earned a B.S. degree in agriculture.
He served in Co. A, 9th Tank Battalion, 20th Armored Division in the European Theater in WWII. In civilian life, he worked for major corporations, marketing agricultural chemicals and fertilizers.
He is a past president of the Abilene A&M Club and is proud that a son, daughter, granddaughter, and a cousin are Aggies.
Pritchett was from Stamford, Texas, and was in L Company Infantry at A&M. Like Melson and Swofford, he had to work as much as possible in order to stay in school. His primary jobs were waiting tables in Sbisa and later Duncan, and janitoring. He received his
B.S. degree in agricultural education.
Dub was inducted into the Army with the Class of ’44 in 1943. After graduating from O.C.S. as a second lieutenant, he was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Rainbow Division as commander of an anti-tank platoon and served in the European Theater. After the Germans
surrendered, he served in the Army of Occupation in Austria for an additional year and was discharged as a captain in June 1946.
He taught agriculture for only one year, moved to Abilene in 1949, and went into business as a wholesale distributor for Phillips Petroleum Co. He later opened Aamco Transmission Center as co-owner and manager, which position he held until retirement.
Dub is proud to have served as president of the Abilene A&M Club and to have a son, four grandsons, and a granddaughter who are all graduates of A&M.