Dethlefsen, Merlyn, Col Deceased
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1051F-Pilot
Last AFSC Group
Aircrew
Last Unit
1975-1977, 96th Bombardment Wing, Heavy
Service Years
1953 - 1977
Colonel

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Iowa
Iowa
Year of Birth
1934
 
Contact Info
Home Town
Greenville
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Dec 14, 1987
 
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Not Specified
   
Other Comments:

Congressional Medal of Honor

Rank and organization:
Major (then Capt.), U.S. Air Force.

Place and date: In the air over North Vietnam, 10 March 1967.

Entered service at: Royal, Iowa. Born: 29 June 1934, Greenville, Iowa.

Citation to Accompany the Award of the Congressional Medal of Honor:
 
Maj. Dethlefsen was 1 of a flight of F-105 aircraft engaged in a fire suppression mission designed to destroy a key antiaircraft defensive complex containing surface-to-air missiles (SAM), an exceptionally heavy concentration of antiaircraft artillery, and other automatic weapons. The defensive network was situated to dominate the approach and provide protection to an important North Vietnam industrial center that was scheduled to be attacked by fighter bombers immediately after the strike by Maj. Dethlefsen's flight. In the initial attack on the defensive complex the lead aircraft was crippled, and Maj. Dethlefsen's aircraft was extensively damaged by the intense enemy fire. Realizing that the success of the impending fighter bomber attack on the center now depended on his ability to effectively suppress the defensive fire, Maj. Dethlefsen ignored the enemy's overwhelming firepower and the damage to his aircraft and pressed his attack. Despite a continuing hail of antiaircraft fire, deadly surface-to-air missiles, and counterattacks by MIG interceptors, Maj. Dethlefsen flew repeated close range strikes to silence the enemy defensive positions with bombs and cannon fire. His action in rendering ineffective the defensive SAM and antiaircraft artillery sites enabled the ensuing fighter bombers to strike successfully the important industrial target without loss or damage to their aircraft, thereby appreciably reducing the enemy's ability to provide essential war material. Maj. Dethlefsen's consummate skill and selfless dedication to this significant mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.


Biography: (from http://www.iowahistory.org/museum/exhibits/medal-of-honor/ )

Merlyn Dethlefsen was born on a farm in Greenville, Iowa, June 29, 1934. His father, Williard, was a farmer. His mother, Norma, was a schoolteacher. When Merlyn was a child, the family moved to a farm near Royal, Iowa. He graduated with honors from Royal High School in 1951, at age 16. Dethlefsen attended Iowa State University for two years before enlisting in the Air Force. Dethlefsen enlisted in the Air Force as an airman in 1953. He earned his navigator’s wings and commission through the aviation cadet program in 1955. He attended the United States Air War College and taught at the U.S. Army War College. Once back from Vietnam, he was stationed for a time at the Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma. He retired from the Air Force in 1977 as the director of operations, 96 Bombardment Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, SAC, in Abilene, Texas.
In 1965, he earned his college degree from University of Nebraska, Omaha, with a major in business. He earned a Master’s degree in psychology in 1972, from Troy State University.

   
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Aviator (Command)



 
 Unit Assignments
9th Tactical Fighter Squadron560th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Chargin' Cheetahs333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron3575th Pilot Training Squadron
3576th Student SquadronAir War CollegeFormal Schools9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
96th Bombardment Wing, Heavy
  1961-1965, 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron
  1965-1966, 560th Tactical Fighter Squadron - Chargin' Cheetahs
  1966-1967, 333rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
  1967-1971, 3575th Pilot Training Squadron
  1967-1971, 3576th Student Squadron
  1971-1972, Air War College
  1972-1974, Army War College
  1974-1975, 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
  1975-1977, 96th Bombardment Wing, Heavy
 Colleges Attended 
Iowa State UniversityUniversity of Nebraska, OmahaAir War College
  1951-1953, Iowa State University
  1963-1965, University of Nebraska, Omaha
  1971-1972, Air War College
 Recruit Training - Trainee/Instructor
  1954, Aviation Cadet Training (Ellington AFB), 3608/Echo
 My Aircraft/Missiles
C-124 Globemaster II  F-100 Super Sabre  F-105 Thunderchief (Thud)  
  1957-1959, C-124 Globemaster II
  1961-1966, F-100 Super Sabre
  1966-1967, F-105 Thunderchief (Thud)
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