John Francis Klescz
1926 ~ 2020
Captain John Klescz, age 93, died on March 01,2020. John was born December 1, 1926 in St. Wendel, MN to August and Mary Klescz. He proudly served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
John was hired by NWA as a mechanic on June 14, 1943. However, his NWA employment was soon interrupted by military service which lasted until late 1946. In early 1947, John returned to Minnesota and resumed his career with NWA Maintenance. He flourished in the maintenance career track and arose to become a master mechanic, crew chief and flight engineer. In 1964 John was given an opportunity to receive pilot training and upgrade to copilot. He chose the training and that was the beginning of his second career track as a pilot, culminating in mandatory pilot retirement as a captain on November 30, 1986.
After retirement John joined RNPA and also discovered his talents and passion for creating beautiful wood carvings. Fishing was also a joy (when he was lucky). John volunteered at the organization ‘Bridging’ for many years where they welcomed his incredible handyman talents and skills. He enjoyed watching the birds, deer and other wildlife from his kitchen table and enjoyed visits from friends and family, sharing stories. John was preceded in death by his wife, Delphine, son Rob and sisters Ester, Mary, and Alma. He is survived by his daughter, Sheri, son-in-law Al, beloved granddaughter Shelby, sisters Delores and Martha, and many nieces and nephews.
(- Klescz family & Bill Day)
J. Dale Nadon
1936 ~ 2020
Captain Dale Nadon, age 83, died April 19, 2020 in Sarasota, Florida after struggling with dementia.
Born in the small prairie city of Portage LaPrarie, Manitoba, Canada, Dale was the third of four siblings. Dale’s father was a painter who, in classic innovative Canadian prairie style, prevailed upon the city to flood his backyard in the winter to form an ice rink and then installed lighting for night skating. Dale honed his hockey skills right at home on that hockey rink.
In 1955 Dale joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadets and spent more than a year at RCAF Station Moose Jaw training in the Harvard (T-6) and CT-133 (T-33). After earning his wings and commission as a Flying Officer, Dale was assigned to the CF-100 Operational Training Unit (OUT) at Cold Lake, Alberta. At the time there were five CF-100 fighter squadrons across Canada. The CF-100 was similar to the USAF F-89 in that both were intended to engage enemy bomber formations, however in contrast the CF-100 engaged the enemy with a 90-degree attack, or a Lead Collision Course (LCC), rather than a head on attacks. After learning their techniques at OTU, Dale was assigned to RCAF 440 Squadron at Bagotville, Quebec. In May 1957, the 440 Squadron was transferred to Zweibrucken Air Base in West Germany to fulfill a NATO mission. The aircraft were flown Trans-Atlantic to Zweibrucken AB with fueling stops in Goose Bay and Keflavik, Iceland. Dale served with 440 Squadron at Zweibrucken AB until early 1960. The remainder of his active duty time was served in Canada.
Read more: Dale Nadon
Larry A. Potton
1940 ~ 2020
Captain Larry Alan Potton, age 79, of River Falls, Wisconsin died at his home surrounded by his family on Sunday, January 12, 2020, after stoically battling cancer. Larry was born in Clinton, Wisconsin on July 6, 1940, the third child of Howard and Martha (Roberts) Potton. Larry spent his youth in Avalon, Wisconsin hunting and fishing with his father and two brothers, Bill and Dale, and tormenting his little sister, Ruth Ann.
Larry Potton graduated from Clinton High School, class of 1958, and from the University of Wisconsin – Platteville in 1962. He earned his Wings in 1964, proudly serving for five years as a Naval Aviator with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 2 (HC-2), also known as the “Fleet Angels”. He and Linda Millman, of Platteville, Wisconsin, eloped and were married at Lakehurst Naval Air Station on June 12, 1964.
Read more: Larry A. Potton
Stuart G. Smith
1942 ~ 2020
Captain Stuart ‘Stu’ Smith, age 78, ‘Flew West’ on April 14, 2020 at their seasonal residence near Honolulu, Hawaii. His wife Kitty, a retired NWA/Delta pilot was at his side.
Stu was born in San Francisco on Jan 6, 1942 and adopted by Charles Gordon and Eunice Rowen Smith. Charles and Eunice were older parents who had tried for twenty years to have a child of their own. Stu became their only child
He grew up in the San Francisco Bay area where his father worked in real estate. His love of flying started at an early age. Like a lot of future airline pilots Stu had friends who were also learning to fly and some even owned airplanes. He never passed up a chance to go flying. When he discovered his parents were considering enrolling him in a Jesuit school, Stu lied about his age and enlisted in the Marine Corps. When Stu was a nineteen-year-old Marine his father died, since Stu was the only son, the USMC issued him a hardship discharge to return home and care for his mother.
Read more: Capt. Stu Smith
Henry ‘Terry’ Bunker
1938 ~ 2020
Captain Terry Bunker, age 81, passed away peacefully on January 22, 2020 after a brief illness, his wife Terri was by his side. At the time of his death Terry and his wife resided in Apple Valley, MN.
Born on July 03, 1938, the third child of Thomas and Mary Jane Bunker. Terry grew up in Cincinnati, OH where his father worked as a stockbroker. Many accredit Terry’s strong personality to the tutelage of his older brother Richard. In their pre-teen and early teen years the two brothers would spend most free days at the local movie theater. At the suggestion of his older brother, the two packed their pockets with snakes. Entering the theater, they climbed to the balcony where they released the snakes. Mischief with a capital M.
After high school Terry attended Xavier University until he acquired the academic credits required to test for the USAF Aviation Cadet Pilot Training. Terry prevailed and was admitted to the challenging Aviation Cadet Pilot Training course. After graduation from pilot training he was assigned to Vance AFB, OK as an ATC instructor pilot. Terry’s primary duty at Vance AFB was as an academic instructor, but he also often flew as an IP in the T-38. A number of future NWA pilots, like Skip Foster, would receive their early training from Terry. After his tenure as an instructor Terry was given an assignment to Air Defense Command (ADC) to fly the F-101 interceptor.
Read more: Henry T. Bunker