Melvin Gardner was born on April 6, 1920, in Mesa, Arizona. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on October 5, 1939, and after completing Airplane Mechanic's School at Chanute Field, Illinois, he served as a B-18 Bolo, B-23 Dragon, and then B-25 Mitchell mechanic with the 34th Bomb Squadron of the 17th Bomb Group at March Field, California, at McChord Field, Washington, and then at Pendleton Army Airfield, Oregon, until he was selected for the Doolittle Mission in February 1942. Sgt Gardner served as the engineer-gunner on the 11th B-25 to take off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8) on April 18, 1942, and after bombing targets around Tokyo, Japan, the crew flew to China and bailed out when their aircraft ran out of fuel. He remained in the China-Burma-India Theater after the raid, and served as a B-25 engineer/gunner with the 11th Bomb Squadron of the 341st Bomb Group in India from May 1942 until he was killed in action on June 2, 1942. Melvin Gardner's remains have never been returned to the United States.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary achievement while participating in a highly destructive raid on the Japanese mainland on April 18, 1942. Sergeant Gardner volunteered for this mission knowing full well that the chances of survival were extremely remote, and executed his part in it with great skill and daring. This achievement reflects high credit on Sergeant Gardner and the military service.