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4 min. read

Dec 14, 2022

Blue KC

This Retired Airman is Still on the Go 

4 min. read

Dec 14, 2022 Blue KC

Mel Bowker has been all over the world. He’s traveled as far north as Churchill, Canada. And as far south as the South Pole. Mel’s been active, athletic, and on-the-ball his whole life. 

Ten days out of high school, Mel joined the Air Force. After 11 weeks of basic training in Texas, the Illinois native was assigned to the Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois to train to be an aircraft instrument mechanic. He was then signed permanent party at Donaldson Air Force Base in Greenville, South Carolina to the Blackjack Squadron. 

The first summer at Donaldson AFB, Mel joined the base’s baseball team. “We traveled all over the southeast playing other Air Force bases and Army bases.” But those weren’t the only miles Mel logged. 

Mel explains that his squadron was always going someplace temporarily, and he would eagerly volunteer to join. That meant frequent trips to northern Canada, parts of Germany, and hot days in Cyprus. 

“But my favorite place was New Zealand … I spent probably six months there,” Mel shares. While in New Zealand, Mel’s squadron delivered supplies to the South Pole. “I flew over the South Pole four or five times,” he says with pride. 

Mel’s high-flying adventure included four weeks at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica. The sound is the southernmost navigable body of water in the world – located just 180 miles from the South Pole. Mel shares, “They could actually land a plane there on an ice runway.” Today, McMurdo Sound is a resupply route for cargo ships and for airplanes that land on floating ice airstrips. 

Mel spent four years in the Air Force, serving until February He married in September of the same year, and in no time was back on the road – as a full-time truckdriver. He and his wife raised two girls in Illinois and ultimately Kansas City. The couple divorced later in life, and in 2001 Mel remarried. Sadly, his second wife passed away just seven years later. “I’ve been by myself ever since, living up here in Excelsior Springs, playing golf every day,” Mel says. 

Rolling into Retirement 

With his trucking days in the rearview mirror, Mel now has time for a sport he’s loved since his early twenties. “Golf keeps me alive, and I enjoy the people I play with,” Mel shares. Not even a knee and hip replacement can keep him away from the golf course. “I’m back out there trying to wear everything out again,” Mel chuckles. Not only does he have a great sense of humor, Mel has a mean short game. “I’m a good putter,” he adds. 

When he’s not golfing, Mel likes to read detective novels and spend quality time with his family. Luckily for Mel, his two daughters, five grandchildren, and three great grandchildren all live close by. 

Some Words of Wisdom

While Mel is 85, he doesn’t act it. And he doesn’t look it. So, what’s his secret? “You just have to keep active. Don’t sit in a chair and watch TV all day. You’ve got to keep going,” he emphasizes.


When asked if he would like to see more of the world, Mel is quick to answer. “I’ve traveled enough. But if I was to go somewhere it’d be New Zealand.” His face lights up at the prospect. 

“It was a great place,” Mel reflects. “When I was in the military, we didn’t get paid very much, and our dollar was worth a lot more there. So, we could have a lot more fun than we could here.” 

Thank you for your service to our country, Mel. And thanks for being a Blue Medicare Advantage member! 

Let’s Salute Our Veterans 

Every Veterans Day, we remember and honor the military veterans who have served and who are serving our country today. During this time of year, it is an opportunity for all of us to show our gratitude and support for veterans at home and abroad. 

A plan that honors veterans 365 days a year is our 2023 Blue KC Valor (PPO). This plan includes: 

  • $0 monthly premium 
  • $0 medical deductibles 
  • $0 primary care physician copay 
  • Low $4,000 annual out-of-pocket maximum in- and out-of-network 
  • Advanced Primary Care (Spira Care Centers) 
  • $500/year over-the-counter benefit 
  • $1,000/year flex benefit allowance for dental, hearing, eyewear and transportation combined 
  • 40 hours/year for Daily Activity Support 
  • Personal Emergency Response System  
  • Low $4,000 annual out-of-pocket maximum in- and out-of-network 
  • SilverSneakers® fitness membership 

To learn why Blue KC Valor is the plan of choice for so many vets, visit 

*Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s Blue Medicare Advantage includes both HMO and PPO plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in Blue Medicare Advantage depends on contract renewal.



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