Lt. Col. Karl P. Kraemer, USAF retired, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 7. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Audrée.
Karl was born on Aug. 3, 1933, in Des Moines, Iowa, the only child of Karl F. and Thelma (Dawson) Kraemer. The family moved to Omaha, Neb., when Karl was 1 year old. Karl attended grade school in Omaha except for two years when the family was temporarily in Chicago due to his father’s work with Western Electric Co. during WWII.
After his freshman year at Tech High in Omaha, the family moved to Minneapolis, Minn., where Karl finished high school at Roosevelt High. He then attended the University of Minnesota, graduating in 1955 and receiving his commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
Karl entered the Air Force in January 1956, attended flight school at Malden AFB, Mo. and Vance AFB, Okla., receiving his wings as a pilot in June 1957. His first assignment was Dover AFB, Del., piloting C-124 Globemaster II transport planes.
He met Audrée, who was attending Georgetown University School of Nursing, on a blind date that summer.
Karl’s flying duties took him to Europe and throughout North America. After Audrée’s graduation in 1959, they were married on Oct. 31. In June 1961 Karl was transferred to Tachikawa Air Base, Japan, to fly HC-54 Rescuemasters with the Air Rescue Service. The couple’s first daughter, Patricia Ann, was born in Japan in September. After a three-year tour Karl was assigned to Robins AFB, Ga., again flying C-124 aircraft. The primary mission at Robins was transporting nuclear weapons and their components throughout the world. The squadron upgraded to the C-141 Starlifter, a jet aircraft, in 1966 with the added mission of airdropping troops and cargo as needed. Many flights were made to Vietnam. Two more daughters, Diane Marie and Kathleen Elizabeth, were added to the family in 1968. In 1970, Karl was scheduled to serve Vietnam as a forward air controller, but his assignment was changed to Thule Air Base, Greenland. The temperature on his arrival was 32 degrees below zero. Thule was an isolated tour without families, but fortunately he only had to serve 8 months of the scheduled 12. The next assignment was Norton AFB, Calif., back to C-141s. By this time Karl was a lieutenant colonel and became chief of combat tactics, in charge of the airdrop program at the wing headquarters. In January 1976, after 20 years and nearly 10,000 pilot flying hours, he retired.
Karl then attended Western State University of Law in Fullerton, Calif., graduating cum laude in 1979, passing the California bar exam on his first effort. He was in private practice mainly in family law until 1985, when he joined the law firm of Jacoby and Meyers, still mostly practicing family law from offices in Riverside and San Bernardino. He eventually became a partner, then retired from law in 1995.
The first 12 months after retirement were spent on the San Bernardino Grand Jury. Karl was an active member and officer of the local chapter Military Officers Association of America and the order of Daedalians, the national fraternity of military pilots. He was a regular lector at St. Adelaide Catholic Church, starting in 1976 and continuing for 40 years.
Karl and Audrée enjoyed retirement by doing quite a bit of traveling. This included trips to Boston and Washington, D.C., for Audreée’s home and college reunions. They attended reunions for Daedalians and Air Rescue Service at various U.S. cities. One favorite activity was cruising; they managed some 24 big ship cruises throughout Europe, Asia, Alaska and the Caribbean, and eight river cruises in Europe. They made numerous trips to Hawaii and went on four European land tours. The joint traveling came to an end with Audrée’s unfortunate passing in July 2015.
Memorial contributions may be made to Flight 30, Order of Daedalians Scholarship Fund, PO Box 6235, March ARB, CA, or Orange Empire Retired Officers Club Scholarship Fund, PO Box 543, Highland, Calif.
Lt. Col. Karl Kraemer will be laid to rest with full military honors on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 1 p.m. at Riverside National Cemetery, 22495 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside.