Retired Air Force Col. Richard Ervin Schmelz, 62, a decorated combat veteran of two wars and retired district sales manager for the Sheraton Park Hotel here, died Sunday in a motel in Ithaca, N.Y., after a heart attack. He was visiting relatives in New York state.
Col. Schmelz was a command pilot and squadron leader of B-17 Flying Fortresses in Italy during World War II. He also flew the B-29 Superfortress against the Japanese in the Pacific near the end of the war.
He was a squadron commander with a fighter bomber wing in Korea during the conflict there. His decorations included the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and the Purple Heart.
He was chief of public information at Andrews Air Force Base when he retired in January 1963 after 25 years of active duty. He then joined the Sheraton Park Hotel, where he was district sales manager before retiring a second time about seven years ago.
Col. Schmelz was a native of Long Island, N.Y., and had made his home in Northern Virginia for the past 25 years. He was a resident of Falls Church at the time of his death.
His first wife, the former Frances Fagge, died in 1973. Survivors include his wife, Arinthia, of Falls Church; a son by his first marriage, Richard E. III, of Olympia, Wash., and his mother, T. Marie Schmelz of Rochester, N.Y.