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Otto Henry "Dutch" Brueggeman

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Otto Henry "Dutch" Brueggeman Obituary
Otto Henry Brueggeman Jr. passed away quietly in his sleep May 13, 2009, in Alamogordo. He was born on Dec. 1, 1918, in Lexington, Mo. His father first worked as a carpenter and then ran a gas station, garage and sales and repair shop for Buicks and Oaklands (later Pontiacs). Dutch picked up and delivered cars to their owners each day while still a child. Dutch's mother, Elsie Caroline Fahrmeier, ran the household and volunteered in the community. When the Depression came and the auto shop failed, Otto Sr. went to work on odd jobs and as a repairman. Elsie sold magazine subscriptions door to door, traveling between towns by train, and later learned Swedish massage. Dutch attended high school in Lexington, and was graduated at 15. He enrolled in Wentworth Military Academy in 1936. An avid drummer, he once played in two bands in the same parade, running from the front of the parade to the back and changing uniforms in order to do so. He was a memorable drum major at Wentworth.
Eternally slim, Dutch had to drink a lot of water in order to reach the minimum weight requirement for enlistment in the United States Marine Corps in November 1940. He trained to be a pilot, first in biplanes. He entered active duty in March 1941. He first served as a shuttle pilot, flying sometimes defective planes from Florida to San Diego. He worked for a period of time as a code breaker in San Diego, and recalled telegrams having to do with the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Dutch went on his first tour of duty in the South Pacific between September 1942 and October 1943. Dutch piloted the Chance Vought F4U-ID Corsair, a marriage of one of the most powerful engines in the world with one of the biggest propellers. He flew escorts for destroyers and dive-bombers and provided air support for troops on the islands. On one mission he discovered where Major Joe Foss, flying ace, had bailed out, and led to his rescue. Dutch downed one Zero off of Guadalcanal and once crashed one of his own planes in a ditch. From December 1943 to January 1944 he returned to the mainland to shuttle planes again, this time between New York and Florida. He returned to the South Pacific from January to November 1945, ending on Okinawa. He clipped a chimney with his plane on one flight back form Japan and reported to his fellows that he did not expect to make it back. Over the course of his duty he served at Pensacola, Quantico, San Diego, American Samoa, New Caledonia, Guadalcanal, New Hebrides, American Samoa, Fiji, Funafuiti, Miramar and Pearl Harbor.
On Aug. 29, 1947, Dutch married Alice Geraldine (Jerry) Dierking Felker, and formed a family with her daughter, Mary Margaret. The three moved to Denver, where Dutch went to work for the Buick Motor Division of GM as their first technical training instructor in a seven-state area. Two more children, William Otto and Elsa Beth, were born. The family moved to Aurora, Colo., where Dutch and Jerry were founding members of Burns Memorial Methodist Church, profiled in the June 21, 1954, issue of Life magazine. Dutch continued in the military reserves, leaving the USMC in 1961 as a lieutenant colonel.
Dutch retired from General Motors in 1976 and moved with Jerry to Rockport, Texas. A few hurricane seasons later, in 1981, they moved to Alamogordo where Mary Margaret lived. Dutch and Jerry were active and served in numerous positions for Grace United Methodist Church. Dutch had an active tennis schedule, playing until he was 85. He volunteered at the at the New Mexico School for Visually Handicapped, Habitat for Humanity, the public parks, the Space Hall of Fame and at the Alamogordo Public Library. He endowed a book scholarship honoring Jerry to accompany the P.E.O. tuition scholarship for students of NMSUA and in Carson City, Nev. He was a member of the Sacramento Masonic Lodge and the Daedalians. Dutch was a regular blood donor, giving nearly 120 units.
His wife, Jerry, preceded Dutch in death in 1988, as did his son, Bill, in 2007. His companion, Lita Vizcarra, passed away only one month earlier than he did. His daughter Elsa, her husband, Russell Steele, and their daughter Anna survive him. His daughter Mary, her husband, Gary Lungstrum, her sons Tim and Ned Stresen-Reuter, and Tim's wife Sabrina and their children Tyler and Allicyn also survive.
Special thanks go to biplane pilots John and Mike for helping the family and friends to enjoy a celebration of Dutch's life. The staff, especially the ladies, at First National Bank went beyond the call of duty to serve his needs and brighten his days.
Memorials may be directed to the following agencies: The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and the COPE.
Please visit the American Armed Forces Museum when it opens and view the objects donated by the family that will be displayed in honor of his military service. Desert Sun Motors is graciously arranging a display focusing on his career with General Motors. When you visit there please buy a Buick.
Published in Alamogordo Daily News from July 24 to Aug. 10, 2009
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