TSgt. Mello had served in the Air Force since 1945. During the Cold War, he was an Airborne Maintenance Technician serving with the 6911th Radio Group Mobile at Rhein-Main Airbase, Germany. He was a crewman aboard a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft from the 7406th Support Squadron, a C-130, tail number 60528. His aircraft was shot down by Soviet MiG-17s over Soviet Armenia on 2 September 1958. He and 16 other men were killed in the subsequent crash.