Friends ’til the End

Growing up in Tracy, Melvin Hubbard and David Abernethy were thick as thieves. They formed a bond at a young age, both fought in World War II and both returned to Tracy to build a life after their service. A little more than three months ago, the Tracy Area Headlight Herald published their obituaries, as they left this world just two days apart.

By Per Peterson

David Abernethy
Melvin Hubbard

Hub and Aber. What a pair.

They went to high school together in Tracy and shared a rich love of music. They got their first jobs at the J.C. Penney store while in school. After graduation, they entered the service as members of the U.S. Army. They returned to Tracy, married two local women, raised their families and retired.

Best friends forever.

About three months ago, the obituaries of Dave Abernethy and Melvin Hubbard appeared side-by-side in the Tracy Area Headlight Herald. Two men who couldn’t have been closer growing up died two days apart from each other, the last surviving men of Tracy High School’s Class of 1942 — Hubbard on Jan. 29, 2021, Abernethy on Jan. 31, 2021. As it turns out, only individual duties during World War II could separate the two.

Hub and Aber are not only war heroes, they’re two iconic figures in Tracy’s history.

“Although both men were inducted into the Army and were stationed in Europe, their paths never crossed,” noted Abernethy’s daughter, Nancy Hippe. “Dave entered the service in January of 1943 and was assigned to an infantry division (86th Division and the A Battery of the 331st Field Artillery Regiment), while Melvin was inducted in May of 1943 and was assigned to Special Services.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.