Melden B. Suggett, Jr.
1933 ~ 2023
Captain Melden ‘Mel’ Suggett, Jr., age 89, died February 12, 2023, after a long struggle with dementia. ‘Mel’ was born and raised in a rural setting near Woodland, California. His father, Mel Sr., was a rice grower working fields that would today be visible from the airport traffic area at Sacramento Airport.
Mel was a good student and an excellent athlete. His athletic skills at Woodland High School won Mel accolades at All State high school competitions and a scholarship to Olympic College in Bremerton, WA where he studied Forestry. Like many other future aviators, upon acquiring two years of college credits Mel applied for USAF Aviation Cadet pilot training. After preflight at Lackland AFB, TX Mel did well in Primary and Basic Flight Training. Completing the Aviation Cadet flight training, Mel was commissioned and rated as a USAF pilot. From Texas he traveled north to Tinker AFB, OK for C-124 Globemaster transition training. With transition behind him, Mel reported for operational assignment to the 62nd Troop Carrier Wing at McChord AFB. This began a long-time association with aviation centered in the Seattle/Tacoma area.
David A. Nelson
1933 ~ 2023
Captain David Nelson, age 89, died January 14, 2023 in Burien, Washington. Dave was born in Glendale, California on August 16, 1933, to Horace Andrew and Ilene Weller Nelson. He was the oldest of three siblings. Dave’s father was a distributor for Hodaka Motorcycle Co., the manufacture of the famed Indian Motorcycle.
David grew up and attended high school in Glendale, CA. As a student he was described as ‘active,’ participating in high school football and the Golden Gloves boxing program. After high school he completed two years at Glendale Community College, while continuing to actively pursue football and boxing.
Peter W. Crane
1936 ~ 2023
Captain Peter Warner Crane, age 86, died March 28, 2023. Pete passed away in his sleep after congestive heart failure attributed to Atrial fibrillation (A-fib).
Pete was born in New Jersey on July 14, 1936, to Wilbur and Margaret (Van Nest) Crane. He was the oldest of three sons, Peter, Jay and Richard Crane. His father, Wilbur Crane, also served in the US Navy, died suddenly of a heart attack at the family dining table. Pete at fourteen years old assumed a leadership role in the family.
All three of the Crane brothers attended high school at Shadyside Academy in Pittsburgh, PA. It can be safely assumed that Pete and his brothers were good students. Throughout his life Pete was physically solid and known as a gifted athlete; early on at Shadyside he was captain of the football team, a member of the baseball team, and active with the wrestling team.
After high school graduation Pete packed up and moved northeast to New Hampshire for four years of study at Dartmouth College. He opted to enroll in USN ROTC. Incidentally, all three Crane sons attended Dartmouth followed by duty with the Navy.
Pete served nine years of active duty with the USN; his tenure began with flight training at NAS Pensacola. After primary Pete was sent to NAS Chase Field, Beeville, TX for advanced jet training. Now wearing USN gold pilot wings, Pete reported to VF-24 at NAS Miramar, CA. In 1960 VF-24 was flying the F-8E & F-8J Crusader. In time Pete would serve two Western Pacific deployments, one aboard the USS Midway with VF-24 and with VFP-63 in 1963 aboard the USS Coral Sea flying the (Photo Recon) RF-8A. The photo below was taken when the photo detachment received honors for performance.
Robert Irvin Bromschwig
1924 ~ 2023
Captain Robert I. (Bob) Bromschwig, age 98, of Eden Prairie, MN passed away March 06, 2023 at NC Little Hospice House in Edina, Minnesota.
Born on May 24, 1924, in St. Louis, Missouri, Bob grew up in Springfield, IL. As a teenager Bob was always interested in aircraft, he enjoyed building gas engine powered model airplanes. Bob graduated from Springfield High School and thereafter attended junior college for a year before enlisting in the US Army Air Corps in 1942 as an Aviation Cadet.
In 1944, after earning his Air Corps wings, Bob was trained as a fighter pilot and deployed to Wattisham, England and assigned to the 434th Fighter Squadron, under the 479th Fighter Group of the Eighth Army Air Force. This Air Group flew both the P-38 and P-51 fighters, Bob was qualified in both. The day before and on D-Day, the 479th flew escort and fighter sweeps of the Normandy landing areas.
Bob had the unique experience of shooting down a German ME-262 jet fighter using a propellor powered P-51. WWII ended and Bob was eventually mustered out of the Army in 1946. In civilian life during the years 1946 to 1949, Bob attended college which teaching flying at the Springfield (IL) Municipal Airport (now gone).
At Springfield Bob courted his wife to be Margaret Copp on the ground and in the air, sometimes traveling by small airplane for dates. Bob and Margaret were married in 1949. The year 1949 was a big one for Bob; he married Marge and also went to work for Northwest Airlines (date of hire July 5, 1949).
Roger A. Bruggemeyer
1930 ~ 2022
Captain Roger Allen Bruggemeyer, of Grand Rapids, Minnesota flew west on November 14, 2022 of complications from COPD. Roger was born to Albert and Josephine Bruggemeyer in Oak Park, Illinois on May 27th, 1930 he was 92 years young.
His father owned a supply company located at 4 North State Street in Chicago where Roger worked as a delivery truck driver during his high school and early college years.
Roger attended and graduated from Proviso High School in 1948, and then went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Superior, in Superior Wisconsin, graduating in 1952 with a degree in History. After graduation, Roger joined the Naval Aviation Cadet program at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
Upon graduation of the Aviation Cadet Program, Roger was awarded his wings of gold and transferred to the United States Marine Corps where upon he was assigned to VMFA-312, the Checkerboards, flying the F4U Corsair in Miami, Florida. A particular training sortie stood out from the others.
Flying as dash 2 in the section, he observed a surfacing submarine. After confirming no US submarines were in the area, he deduced it to be of Soviet origin and so informed his section leader. The two descended at tactical speed and flew close-aboard the Soviet submarine’s conning tower to show the submarine they were discovered. The submarine promptly dove to avoid any further contact, and undoubtedly filed a report on the extremely rapid defensive response of the US!
David W. James
1942 ~ 2022
Captain David James, age 80, died on December 16, 2022. He was predeceased by his wife Catherine Ann (Cathy) on September 30, 2022, and previously a son, Kevin James. David and Cathy are survived by Greg James, Lori Menalis, Josh James, Elizabeth Studenski and four grandchildren. An excellent family obituary can be found at this website: https://robersonfh.com/obituary/david-william-james/
An aviator’s obituary
David James received flight lessons at Southport Airport in Apple Valley, MN.
David James student pilot
If you tried to land at Southport Airport today, you would end up in a Target shopping cart. Little did David know that in a few short years many of his copilots and Second Officers would be living in homes just south of the airport where he learned to fly. Veterans could buy new homes there and qualify for a loan, nothing down and a gross paycheck of $550 @ month in a new community.