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Jon C. Merkel Collection

Identifier: CA005-95

Scope and Content

This collection contains forms, official documents, memoranda, correspondence, pictures, a marriage license, and other paperwork concerning Jon C. Merkel’s employment by Air Asia Company, Ltd. and then Air America, Inc. as a helicopter pilot, operations and death, movement of family and personal/household effects, and shipment of his body back to the United States. This collection was created and/or collected by his widow Kay Merkel Boruff through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The Jon C. Merkel Collection is housed in one manuscript box totaling 0.4 linear ft.

The collection arrived in good condition and was initially processed with only a container list as description. Due to a change of the content management system, further description proved to be necessary. During an assessment for an application for an NEH grant, the collection was identified for further processing and description.

The archivist identified two series, with the first series being the Kay Merkel Boruff Series. Materials included relate to Kay Merkel Boruff and Jon C. Merkel and consist of correspondence concerning the Freedom of Information Act request from which the bulk of this collection was gathered as well as correspondence with China Post One, photographs, official documents, marriage records, memorial service correspondence, news clippings, personal writings, reviews, and a datebook.

The FOIA Files Series contains a comprehensive collection of documents, in chronological order, related to Jon C. Merkel's employment with Air America, Inc., the circumstances of his death, and the repatriation of his body. It includes correspondence, application forms, personal records, travel documents, employment offers, medical records, financial records, personal/household effects shipping instructions, evaluations, clearance slips, correspondence regarding personal/household effects, payroll documents, medical certificates, requests for status changes, flight reports, correspondence regarding assumption of employment obligations, travel orders, death-related paperwork, post-mortem reports, obituaries, funeral arrangements, insurance correspondence, benefit claims, tax forms, retirement plan information, compensation schedules, and various memoranda addressing specific issues and inquiries.


  • 1968 - 1997
  • Majority of material found within 1968 - 1971


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Biographical Sketch

Jon C. Merkel was born on December 10, 1939, to Army Lt. Col. and Mrs. Arthur V. Merkel, in Huntington, West Virginia. He graduated from the University of Maryland in 1962. Merkel served in the Air Force from 1962 to 1967, after which he joined Air America, Inc. in 1968, working in Saigon until December 1969 when he was transferred to Udorn. He was killed by hostile ground fire near Tha Lin Noi, Laos on February 18, 1970.


Leeker, Joe. "1 Air America in Laos II – Military Aid" [Online] 2018-06-01.
"Jerry Fink Collection," Air America Roster, Folder 1, Box 32, History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.
"Jon C. Merkel Collection," Obituary, Folder 5, Box 1, Series II, History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.


0.4 Linear Feet ((One manuscript box).)


Kay Merkel Boruff, the widow of Jon C. Merkel, gathered these materials through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. This collection contains materials relating to Merkel's hiring by Air Asia Company, Ltd./Air America, Inc. as a helicopter pilot, the movement of his personal/household effects, his death and related activities, and the repatriation of his body.

Series Description

The Jon C. Merkel Collection is arranged in two series:

Series I. Kay Merkel Boruff 0.1 linear ft. (one folder), 1969-1997.

Arranged by topic.

Series II. FOIA Files 0.3 linear ft. (six folders), 1968-1971.

Arranged chronologically and by topic.

Provenance Statement

The Jon C. Merkel Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Kay Merkel Boruff in multiple accessions from 1995 to 1997.

Additional Sources

Additional information can be found in the History of Aviation Archives in the following collections:

Civil Air Transport/Air America Archives and the Kay Merkel Boruff Collection.

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

01 = CAT/Air American Archives

02 = Doolittle Archives

03 = Lighter than Air Archives

04 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

05 = History of Aviation Archives

06 = University Archives

07 = HAC Stacks

08 = Wineburgh Philatelic Research Library (WPRL)

09 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 01JCM-B01-F01-PC001

01 = CAT/Air America Archives

JCM = Jon C. Merkel Collection

B01 = Box Number

F01 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

001 = Image Number

Note to the Researcher

Materials were refoldered and reboxed. Staples were removed. Clippings and photographs were interleaved with acid free paper. Some materials in folders two through six have been redacted, originals are kept in secure holding area.

Materials Removed List

0.2 linear ft. (three folders) of duplicate documents from the FOIA request.

Guide to the Jon C. Merkel Collection, 1939-1970
Under Revision
Thomas Allen, PhD, CA.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Edition statement
First revision by Thomas Allen, PhD, CA. 2018-06-01. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2019-01-03. Third revision by Ryan Cannon, MLIS. 2023-06-22

Revision Statements

  • 2018-06-01: 1st revision was a migration to ArchivesSpace by Thomas Allen, PhD, CA.
  • 2019-02-03: 2nd revision was an update of biographical information by Patrizia Nava, CA.
  • 2023-06-22: 3rd revision was a reprocessing of the entire collection with new arrangement and description by Ryan Cannon, MLIS.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US