Mele Vojvodich was born on March 28, 1929, in Stubenville, Ohio. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces on June 20, 1947, and was trained as a Radio Operator at Scott AFB, Illinois. Vojvodich enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program on July 11, 1949, and was commissioned as a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force and awarded his pilot wings on August 4, 1950. He served with the 309th Fighter Escort Squadron at Turner AFB, Georgia, from August 1950 to April 1952, and then went through RF-80 Shooting Star Combat Crew Training at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from April to June 1952. Capt Vojvodich flew 161 combat missions in Korea with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron from July 1952 to May 1953. After returning from Korea, he flew with the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Group at Shaw AFB, from July 1953 to November 1954, and then with the 722nd Fighter Bomber Squadron at Foster AFB, Texas, from November 1954 to February 1956. Vojvodich transferred to the 451st Fighter Day Squadron at Foster in February 1956, and was then transferred to the 35th Bomb Squadron at Itazuke AB, Japan, where he served from July 1956 to December 1957. He worked as a Staff Officer with Pacific Air Forces at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from December 1957 to July 1960, and then served as an Operations Officer with the 4520th Combat Crew Training Wing at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from July 1960 to June 1962. Maj Vojvodich served with the 45th Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill AFB, Florida, from June 1962 to February 1963, and then joined the CIA's OXCART Program, where he flew the top secret A-12 reconnaissance aircraft during its development and later on operational missions over North Vietnam and North Korea. During this time, he flew the first operational A-12 BLACK SHIELD mission over North Vietnam on May 31, 1967. Col Vojvodich also flew the last BLACK SHIELD mission over North Vietnam, on March 8, 1968. In all, he flew 5 of the 29 highly classified BLACK SHIELD missions in Southeast Asia between May 1967 and March 1968. His next assignment was as Chief of the Atmospheric Weapons Division at Headquarters Aerospace Defense Command at Ent AFB, Colorado, where he served from August 1968 to August 1970. Vojvodich then attended National War College from August 1970 to July 1971, and then served as director of operations for the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Bergstrom AFB, Texas, until March 1972. Gen Vojvodich was deputy commander for operations, Vice Commander, and then Commander of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from March 1972 to July 1973, where he flew 135 combat missions in F-4 Phantom II and A-7 Corsair II aircraft. He then served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Tactical Analysis with the Tactical Air Warfare Center at Eglin AFB, Florida, from August 1973 to August 1974. Gen Vojvodich served with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from August 1974 to August 1977, and then became Deputy Chief of Staff for Technical Training with Headquarters Air Training Command at Randolph AFB, Texas, where he served until August 1980. From August 1980 to March 1981, he served as Director of Manpower and Organization at the Pentagon, and then became Director of Personnel Programs in March 1981. His final assignment was as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower and Personnel at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, where he served from September 1982 until his retirement from the Air Force on March 1, 1983. Maj Gen Vojvodich was a Command Pilot and had accumulated over 6,000 flying hours during his Air Force Career. He died on November 3, 2003, and was buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Mele Vojvodich, Jr., Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as a Pilot with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, FIFTH Air Force, in action against enemy forces in the Republic of Korea on 3 January 1953. On that date Captain Vojvodich volunteered to fly an unarmed RF-86 type aircraft on an extremely hazardous mission of greatest importance to United Nations forces. Captain Vojvodich, exhibiting outstanding personal courage and skill, flew his unarmed aircraft deep into heavily defended enemy territory despite constant attacks from enemy aircraft. On his way to the target complex, he experienced a complete radio failure, and in addition, his drop tanks failed to jettison. Notwithstanding these obstacles, Captain Vojvodich, recognizing the vital importance of his assigned mission, elected to complete the photograph runs on his targets, exposing himself to firing passes from enemy aircraft. In order to insure complete coverage, Captain Vojvodich returned to re-photograph his first target, despite the presence of numerous enemy aircraft in the area. The intelligence data Captain Vojvodich obtained at great personal risk was of immeasurable value to subsequent United Nations operation in Korea.