Herbert Natzke

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Natzke, Herbert W.


Herbert W. Natzke, a retired banker who lived on his farm in Belen, New Mexico, passed away peacefully on Saturday, July 8, 2017, surrounded by his immediate family.

Mr. Natzke was born March 21, 1924 in Pine River, Wisconsin. He studied to become a Lutheran minister at a seminary in Milwaukee but when World War II began he volunteered for the Air Force. He became a combat navigator and flew 19 missions over Germany and Austria. His plane was shot down near the Auschwitz death camp December 17, 1944 and he was a prisoner of war until liberation in May 1945. Upon return to the U.S. he flew for another year in Asia until discharged in February 1947. He left active duty as a First Lieutenant earning 10 decorations and battle stars. He continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1972.

Mr. Natzke then enrolled in the University of Wisconsin, studying history and political science. He earned his BA in 1950 and his MA in 1951. He graduated as the top-ranking student in his class and was awarded membership in the Phi Beta Kappa scholastic fraternity.

In June 1951, he was recruited into the Central Intelligence Agency where he worked in the Clandestine Operations Directorate under legendary figures like Allen Dulles and Richard Helms. He spent 14 years in Germany, recruiting agents and running them into Eastern Europe. From 1963-1966, he served in Munich, working with General Gehlen, the founder and chief of the German Intelligence Service. From 1966 to 1969, he was chief of the CIA's Base in West Berlin, one of the top operational jobs in the Agency.

In 1969, Mr. Natzke volunteered for service in Vietnam, although his son had been killed there only 18 months earlier. As Chief of the Saigon area, he was responsible for counterintelligence operations in Saigon. Over the next two years, using sophisticated techniques learned in Germany, he penetrated and arrested several high level North Vietnamese spy rings operating in Saigon and simultaneously rooted out and destroyed the Viet Cong terrorist networks which had carried out the TET Offensive in Saigon a year earlier. He received a high level decoration from then-President Nguyen Van Thieu for these accomplishments.

Upon his return to the U.S., Mr. Natzke served as Chief of Operations for the CIA's Latin American Division for three years and was Chief of Vietnam Operations during the collapse of Vietnam in 1975. Under President Gerald Ford, he served on the Presidential Committee to resettle Vietnamese refugees in the United States. In 1976, he was assigned to Manila, Philippines, where he served as Chief of Station until January 1980 when he retired.

Mr. Natzke then was offered a senior position with a Filipino-Chinese owned banking and trading conglomerate based in Manila. He worked for this company the next 16 years. When the company opened a bank in San Francisco, he moved to San Francisco to supervise the operation. He played a key role in organizing Oceanic Bank and overseeing the construction of its headquarters building in the financial district of San Francisco. He served as Vice Chairman of the bank until his final retirement in June 1996.

Mr. Natzke was first married to Helen Joyce Loud who died of cancer in 1971. From this marriage he had five children: Nicholas Lee Natzke, who was killed while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam, Kay Louise Galeotti of Maryland, Connie Asero of North Carolina, Christopher Karl Natzke of Georgia, and Karen Hagerman of Maryland. His second marriage to Rosella Aragon of Belen, New Mexico, produced two daughters, Aleksandra Natzke McCadden and Tatiana Natzke. Rosella lives on the family farm in Belen and the two daughters reside in California and Nevada. He has seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

The Natzke family wishes to thank the VA Home-Based Primary Care Team, Heritage Hospice and caregivers Maria Good and Teresa Towle for their kindness and loving care. Funeral services will be held Saturday, July 22, 2017 at the Cathedral Church of St. John, 318 Silver SW, Albuquerque. Visitation is at 9:00 am and the funeral service is at 10:00 am. Donations in his memory may be made to St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 400 Huning Ranch West Loop, Los Lunas, NM 87031. His ashes will be interred at Culpeper National Cemetery, Virginia.

Please sign Mr. Natzke's online tribute at


Romero Funeral Home

609 N. Main St. Belen, NM.

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Romero Funeral Home
609 N Main St
Belen, NM 87002
(505) 864-8501
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Published in Albuquerque Journal on July 19, 2017
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