Merlyn Hans Dethlefsen
Major, United States Air Force
at Greenville, Iowa, on June 29, 1934, he earned the
during the Vietnam War, while serving as Captain, United States Air Force
over North Vietnam.
On March 10, 1967 he was one of a flight of F-105 aircraft engaged in a fire suppression mission designed to destroy a key anti-aircraft complex containing surface-to-air missiles (SAM), an exceptionally heavy concentration of anti-aircraft artillery and other automatic weapons. The defensive network was situated so as to protect important North Vietnam industrial centers that were scheduled to be attacked by fighter-bombers immediately after the attack by his flight.
In the initial attack, the lead aircraft was crippled and his plane extensively damaged by intense enemy fire. Realizing that the success of the impending attack now depended on his ability to effectively suppress the defensive fire, he ignored the enemy's overwhelming firepower, and the damage to his aircraft, and pressed the attack.
Despite a continued hail of enemy fire, and counterattacks by enemy MIG interceptors, he flew repeated close-range strikes to silence the enemy defensive positions with bombs and cannon fire. His action in rendering ineffective the defensive SAM units enabled the ensuing fighter-bombers to strike successfully the important industrial targets, thereby appreciably reducing the enemy's ability to provide essential war materials. His consummate skill and selfless dedication to his significant mission were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of the United States of America.
Major Dethlefsen died of natural causes on
December 14, 1987 and was subsequently buried in Section 65 of Arlington
DETHLEFSEN, MERLYN HANS
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: Maj. Dethlefsen was one of a flight of F-105
Photo courtesy of Raymond L. Collins
Updated: 25 September 2000 Page Updated: 3 May 2001 Updated: 15 March 2003 Updated: 1 March 2006 Updated: 26 March 2006