John Meloney spied on the Vatican, British and Russians after WW II

John Meloney of Port Charlotte, Fla. pictured at an outing years after his World War II spying days were over. Photo provided

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second of two parts.

World War II was over, but not for Sgt. John Meloney. He was on his way from Oslo, Norway to London where he held a quick meeting with his O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services) handlers and off he flew to Salzburg, Austria.

“I found the O.S.S. office in a Catholic monastery in Salzburg. The Allies had already chopped Austria into four sections occupied by the American, English, Russian and French.

“Lots was going on over there. It was my job to spy on England, Russia and the Vatican,” the 88-year-old Meloney recalled.

“Primarily we were handling the refugee problem. There were a lot of Jewish refugees coming out of Russian-occupied Czechoslovakia and Poland,” he said. “We would send them down to Italy and they would go by boat to Palestine.

“We were also on the lookout for German rocket scientists. These were the people we sent to the United States because thy had all kinds of valuable intelligence about rocket building,” he said.

“We had a safe house in Salzburg where we hid rocket scientists. I remember one night we had a couple of scientists in the house who wandered outside and got taken to somebody and were captured by Russian spies who wanted to kidnap these people.

“Immediately word went out to our agents all over the city that the Russians had captured the scientists. Before the night was over we got them back. The two German rocket experts were delirious.

“We sent agents into the Vatican. The Vatican was a very powerful international political voice,” Meloney said. “We’d send a Catholic and Protestant spy to check out the Vatican. We would compare the reports of our two spies and write a consolidated report on what they learned.

“The Vatican was involved in all kinds of things. Some of the top Nazi prisoners escaped to South America after the war with the Vatican’s help,” he said.

“By the time I got back home in 1946 I didn’t know what country to be loyal to,” Meloney added. “I didn’t want to be loyal to any country. I just wanted world peace.”

He returned to Cornell that he dropped out of four years earlier, but found it over crowded with students and not to his liking. By this time Meloney had attended five universities, four in the Army: Oklahoma A & M, University of Minnesota, Dartmouth University and the University of Alaska, but had no degree to show for it.

He became a journalist and went to work for several small daily papers in New York State to begin with. Then he got a job as a reporter at the paper in Albany, N.Y. From there it was on to the Manchester Union Leader, the state paper in Manchester, N.H. After that he took a job at the Grand Rapids Eagle and finally Meloney became a reporter for the St. Petersburg Independent.

It was at this point he switched professions altogether and went to work as a securities salesman and sold stocks and bonds around the country for a number of years. That’s what got him to Florida and eventually retirement locally.

This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Florida on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011 and is republished with permission.

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  1. John & his first wife, VIRGINIA MALANEY, lived on a houseboat in Florida for a time and then came to live in NEW HAMPSHIRE where I met them both and we shared many common interests. They were an amazing couple. Virginia had served with THE WASPS during WWII by the way. Her story can b found on the internet with an adequate search.

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