Atlanta native Chloe Melas is helping with WWII awareness efforts

World War II might seem like an unusual area of interest for an entertainment correspondent for a big three TV network. But Chloe Melas’ ties to this moment in history are deep — long predating her decision to republish “Luck of the Draw: My Story of the Air War in Europe,” the acclaimed memoir of her grandfather, Frank Murphy.

“My journey with World War II began in my 20s,” Melas told the AJC. “I had been involved with these World War II communities for a decade at the point when I decided to finally publish grandpa’s book.”

Melas, an Atlanta native, will bring that involvement to metro Atlanta on May 18 as she discusses with the Atlanta WWII History Roundtable the book and the amplification it’s received through the recently released AppleTV+ series “Masters of the Air,” which includes Murphy’s narrative.

WWII veteran and “Luck of the Draw: My Story of the Air War in Europe” author Frank Murphy with granddaughter Chloe Melas.

Credit: Contributed by Chloe Melas

icon to expand image

Credit: Contributed by Chloe Melas

A Hollywood story

Murphy was a member of the Eighth Air Force’s 100th Bomb Group, nicknamed The Bloody Hundredth for its massive fatality rate. “Luck of the Draw,” originally published in 2001 and rereleased in 2021 with an added foreword by Melas and her mother, Elizabeth Murphy, portrays the perilous missions Frank Murphy ran over occupied Europe. He survived a German POW camp after his B-17 bomber was shot down, and he later returned home to Atlanta to establish a life and a family.

Melas said she knew early on that her grandfather’s story had “all the bells and whistles” of a Hollywood narrative. “Masters of the Air,” in the vein of “Band of Brothers,” and “The Pacific,” follows the story of the 100th Bomb Group. Stephen Spielberg and Tom Hanks are among the producers of this latest series, released earlier this year.

Actor Tom Hanks, one of the producers of AppleTV+'s "Masters of the Air," and Chloe Melas.

Credit: Contributed by Chloe Melas

icon to expand image

Credit: Contributed by Chloe Melas

Melas said the series lives up to her perceptions of her grandfather’s experience. She’s spoken about it with Hanks.

“My eyes just welled up with tears, and I just thanked him for everything that he and his entire team and Steven Spielberg and all the writers and the producers and everybody that put this project together (did),” she said. “I’ll never know what it was like to actually serve in World War II. But we’ve gotten pretty damn close to it with ‘Masters of the Air.’”

Preserving narratives

Melas’ devotion to her grandfather, who passed away in 2007, has propelled her to call attention to his story and those of other WWII veterans. Frank Murphy was a Roundtable member, and she remembers attending veterans events with him. She’s followed in his footsteps by serving on the board of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, and she’s also on the board of the 100th Bomb Group Foundation.

“This was all just done because I loved my grandfather so much, and he was such a great person,” Melas said. “I am more than happy to go above and beyond shouting, not just his bravery and patriotism for our country, but also all his hard work on the book.”

Although Melas has been vocal at times on air about Murphy’s story, her day job, where she discusses and interviews the most high-profile celebrities for NBC, pretty clearly differs from her efforts involving veterans. Her activism, though, is drawing attention to an increasingly challenging issue: preserving wartime narratives.

It’s involvement like Melas’, said Jeff Johnson, current Roundtable president, that will carry public awareness forward. What was once a veteran’s organization has pivoted toward preservation as the number of veterans from that era has dwindled.

“For historical preservation organizations like The Atlanta World War II History Roundtable, we’ve got to open up that scope,” Johnson said. “It can’t be a veteran’s group. It’s got to be a history group, and it’s got to be innovative. Otherwise, groups like mine are going to fade away along with the World War II veterans.”

Johnson has led the Roundtable toward more of a global perspective that takes into account viewpoints from outside the U.S. This shift, with its “compelling” and “interesting” approaches, he said, helps with expanding awareness.

Frank Murphy during his time serving in the 100th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force.

Credit: Contributed by Chloe Melas

icon to expand image

Credit: Contributed by Chloe Melas

The end zone

Meanwhile, Melas continues to turn the public eye toward history in her own way. Her work on certain projects and issues, she said, is sometimes unexpected — even to her — but she’s gotten used to seeing things through in notable ways. “Luck of the Draw” became a New York Times bestseller after its rerelease.

“I never knew that I was going to take the football all the way down to the end zone, but that’s sort of how I am,” she said.” If you throw it to me and I catch it, I’m going to go with it.”

Projects like “Masters of the Air,” she pointed out, can contribute to the awareness she’s worked on.

“Not only is it so well executed and visually stunning, it’s also going to be around forever in the age of streaming, right? My kids, their kids (will watch),” she said. “And it’s going to continue to age really well.”

Meet Chloe

What: Panel discussion on “Luck of the Draw: My Story of the Air War in Europe” with Chloe Melas, Elizabeth Murphy, and National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force Executive Committee member John O’Neill

When: Atlanta WWII History Roundtable May meeting; Saturday, May 18; 10 a.m.-1 p.m.

Where: Dunwoody United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 1548 Mount Vernon Rd., Dunwoody.

Deadline: RSVP required no later than Tuesday, May 14 with Bill LeCount at 404-886-7383. More info at

Admission (cash or check): $23 for roundtable members, $28 for nonmembers, free for WWII veterans