Dean Fredericks - 2nd Lieutenant
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Air Medal with V (for valor) (Somalia)
We are grateful to Dean’s sister, Ruth Hannah, for beautifully handwriting Dean’s story so it could be shared.
Dean Edward Fredericks was born on October 24, 1926 to Edward and Ardis Fredericks on a farm southwest of Colter, Iowa.
Most farms during this period had no electrical power, indoor plumbing or central heating, so the family existed with lamps and lanterns, a water pump by the back door, a cook stove and pot bellied stove for heat, and of course, the typical outhouse.
A sister, Ruth Ann, joined the family in 1930 when Dean was four and throughout Ruth’s life time, Dean was a loving brother and very protective of her needs. Both children attended a one-room country school which meant a mile-and-a-half walk during good weather and a bob-sled ride when it snowed.
In 1937, when Dean was 11, the family moved to Chapin, Iowa to a farm that did have electricity but still no indoor plumbing or central heating. By this time, Dean was an active helper on the farm and had many chores to complete daily – chores that he did without complaining.
His life in the Chapin area included 4-H with a calf at the county fair each year, baseball and basketball in school and a very active church life in the Chapin United Methodist Church and youth group activities.
It became evident as Dean grew up that he was fascinated with anything that flew in the sky. His main hobby was small airplanes. He made many of them and hung them from his bedroom ceiling.
The year 1942 brought about an exciting move for the family. Ed and Ardis bought a farm north of Hansell, Iowa and they were delighted to find that this home had not only electricity but also central heating and indoor plumbing!
The move to Hansell Consolidated School proved an easy transition for Dean, then 16 years old. He made many friends quickly and became an excellent first baseman on the baseball team and guard on the basketball team. Hansell High School Band was another outlet for Dean’s talent. He played tenor saxophone along with his sister Ruth Ann on alto saxophone. They teased one another for any squeaky reeds during concerts.
The high school years for Dean proved very happy. He was a good student and excelled at math. He had wonderful friends and met his high school sweetheart, Marilee Uhlenhopp, who years later became his wife.
Dean graduated from Hansell High School with the Class of 1944. That fall, he enrolled at Iowa State College in Ames, attending from November 1944 to February 1945. He majored in Engineering.
During WW2, he enlisted in the Air Cadets and received training at Sheppard Field, Scott Field and the Las Vegas Air Force training station. The end of WW2 brought about Dean’s discharge from the Air Force and his return to farm life.
During this period, he joined a flying club formed by a group of young men in the Hampton, Iowa area. He received his certificate for solo flight from Kramer Airport on May 2, 1948.
Dean attended Iowa State Teachers’ College at Cedar Falls, Iowa for a short period of time before re-enlisting in the US Air Force in June 1950. He was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas with continued training at Craig Air Force Base in Alabama, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant on December 15, 1951.
LT Fredericks and his high school sweetheart, Marilee, were united in marriage at the base chapel at Craig Field on December 15 - the same day he was commissioned.
Dean was then stationed at Williams Field at Chandler, Arizona where he received his jet plane training. Later he was stationed at Las Vegas where he trained for fighter-gunner in the F86 Sabre jet.
An Air Force buddy, Jim Quinn, remembered Dean, “I met Dean Fredericks when we entered the Air Force pilot’s training program in November 1950. We had similar backgrounds. Dean was from a small town in Iowa and I was from a small town in Nebraska. We both had the girls of our dreams with photos to match.
We were in a pressure cooker. The training was intense and stressful. I had my problems and wound up walking – but Dean breezed through the program. He completed his 126 hours in the T-6 Texan and went on to advanced training in the P51 Mustang.
The class graduated in December 1951. Dean and his new bride, Marilee, came to Denver where I was stationed on their way to Nellis Air Force Base, NV for Deans’ transition to the F86 Sabre jet. Dean was assigned to Korea as a fighter pilot. Fighter pilots are special people. In the short time he was in Korea, he wrote about experiencing aerial combat.”
Dean was home on leave in April, 1952 leaving on April 24 for Camp Stoneman, California where he embarked for Korea.
Arriving in Korea on May 4, he was stationed at an Air Force base south of Seoul where he was a jet plane pilot with the 16th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, 51st Fighter Bomber Group.
On July 5th, 1952, Dean was ferrying a T33 Shooting Star on a training mission between Kangnung Airfield K12 and Pohang Airfield K-3 in South Korea when some kind of accident occurred. Buddy Jim Quinn said, “The 33 had characteristics that were not pilot friendly. I remember when we lost another classmate in a T33 accident at Williams AFB, AZ." There is some speculation that the plane may have been hit by lightning.
Dean died that day, July 5. He had been flying regularly and had completed around 25 missions at the time of the accident. He was 25 years old.
LT Dean Fredericks was laid to rest with full military honors on Sept. 26, 1952 in Hampton, Iowa.
Marilee, dean’s wife, received notification on Oct. 28, 1952, that Dean had been awarded the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross for meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight.
Jim Quinn said, “Dean was one of the good guys. He was a solid mid-American, patriotic Christian and a true friend. He loved his Marilee and his family. My wife and I were privileged to have met them all. The impact that he had on my life has been with me for the past 60 years.”