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!
After a year in the Checkerboards, Roger returned to NAS Pensacola with his young wife Elizabeth Templeton (married July 2nd, 1953) to assume duty as an instructor pilot.
Following his stint as an IP, Roger was assigned to multiple USMC squadrons, both active duty and Reserve. He flew the following aircraft: F2H Banshee out of Oakland; F9F Panther and F9F Cougar out of Cherry Point; A-1 (AD) SPAD / Sky Raider and C-119 Flying Boxcar out of MSP International Airport. He separated from the USMCR in 1972.
While in the Marine Corps Reserves, Roger began his commercial aviation career. In 1958 he joined Trans World Airline as a 2nd officer. He moved on the Westerns Airlines in 1959 where he organized the Western Airlines 2nd Officers Association. At the time, only the captains and first officers were organized under ALPA.
His success at organizing the 2nd officers drew the attention and ire of Western management and the federal government. After completing one trip, Roger was confronted by federal agents demanding he sign a letter stating he colluded with Western management while undertaking the organization process. He politely told the agents stuff it, and suggested the next time there should be a subpoena presented at the same time. (His refusal began his affair with the internal Revenue Service for the next 17 years, as he was audited on a yearly basis! Those years culminated in a field audit, which he passed with flying colors.)
From Western Airlines, Roger moved onto Northwest Orient Airlines (NWA) in 1960. Shortly thereafter he was furloughed in 1961, so he found gainful employment with a little known outfit called Air America. Yes, that Air America! He was based out of Tainan, Airport Taiwan and flew to Manila, Bangkok, Saigon, Okinawa and points between. When asked by his children where he flew, the answer was always the destinations mentioned above and never elaborated upon. Never got much out of him about those operations!
Upon recall by NWA in 1961, Roger began his 29 year career flying every aircraft NWA flew. Always based out of Minneapolis / St Paul, Wold-Chamberlain International Airport he qualified as Captain after a short while. He eventually was the last captain qualified in 3 types at the same time, the B-727, DC-10 and B-747-200 (his favorite).
During his career with NWA, Roger was heavily invested in ALPA union duties, specializing in the Retirement and Insurance committee. Every 3 years negotiations dragged on and on, Roger being an integral part of the negotiating committee, and ultimately leading to a strike each time.
He retired from Northwest, first in 1985 and finally in 1990. Two dates? Yep. He retired early, but decided to return to flying before he turned 60. (He put that provision in the contract prior to 1985). The company acquiesced and later decided to buy him out at monthly guarantee and update his retirement to 1990!
Roger was an avid fisherman, hunter, and most of all, a golfer. You could find him on golf courses around the world, and on lakes in northern Minnesota, often with fellow Marines, all of the RAMS organization (Raggedy Assed Marines) of which Roger was a founding member. The RAMS consisted of Northwest and North Central Airlines pilots.
Roger is survived by his wife of 69 years Elizabeth Templeton Bruggemeyer of Wentworth, WI. He was the father of four:
Roger Bruggemeyer, Jr., who was an Air Traffic Controller and PATCO union chief at the Area 3 - Minneapolis ARTCC until relieved of duties by President Reagan (not his favorite). Changed career fields and retired from state of Minnesota government.
Mark Bruggemeyer, career USAF F-4 pilot, Continental (post-strike) and Southwest Airlines
Karen Bruggemeyer, Forensic Psychiatrist, predeceased him 2006
Kurt Bruggemeyer, Career Army Cobra and Blackhawk pilot.