Conrad John Luecke – Major, United States Air Force

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Conrad John Luecke, Major U.S. Air Force, retired, passed away at home on Friday, October 6, 2006, after a three-month battle with cancer. He fought the good fight.

Conrad was born December 30, 1932, in Escanaba, Michigan, to Rose and John Luecke, former U.S. Congressman from Michigan.

He graduated from Albion College in 1964 with a BA in chemistry and received a commission in the U.S. Force through the Air Cadet Program.

He received his pilot wings at Reese AFB, Texas, in 1955 and accumulated over 10,000 hours in 20 different aircraft types during his 23-year career. Conrad served two tours in Vietnam flying the C-130B, where he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action during one of the most hazardous missions ever undertaken in Southeast Asia, resulting in the saving of a besieged Special Forces camp at Thein Nhon. He was also decorated with five Air Medals and the Vietnam Service Medal with five Bronze Battle Stars.

He also flew the EC-135 ARIA aircraft in support of the Apollo Program, most noticeably transporting the Apollo 14 “Moon Rocks” from the South Pacific to Houston after splashdown. After retiring from active duty in 1976, he was employed by Lockhead as a Space Shuttle mechanical systems instructor and provided emergency egress and slide wire training for the flight crews of over 40 shuttle missions.

An accomplished sailor, he was active in the Banana River Power Squadron and earned a Merchant Maine Officers’ license. He was a member of the Order of Daedalians, the American Legion, the Military Officers’ Association and the First Baptist Church of Merritt Island, where he was active and taught Sunday School for many years and was a member of the Teller Team.

He is survived by his wife, Freida Luecke; son and daughter-in-law, Mike and Peggy Bristow; grandsons, J.J. and Casey Bristow; nephew, John LaPorte; nieces, Mary LaPorte and Nancy Conklin; and several great-nieces and nephews.

A memorial service was held at 2 p.m., Thursday, October 12, 2006, at the First Baptist Church of Merritt Island, 140 Magnolia Ave.

Internment will be at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the House of Hope c/o First Baptist Church of Merritt Island.

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