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Archive for Wednesday, March 20, 1991

PILOT READY TO BRING GULF TROOPS HOME

March 20, 1991

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Nelson Krueger says he doesn't get tired of telling people what it's like flying soldiers back and forth from the Middle East.

"I love to do it, because I love to see the patriotism," he said.

On Tuesday, Krueger gave his 20th talk on his work as a volunteer pilot during the Persian Gulf War. He is one of about 200 pilots who have been transporting soldiers to and from the Middle East as part of the Civilian Reserve Air Fleet.

The Civilian Reserve Air Fleet is a contingent of about 180 civilian aircraft working in conjunction with the Air Force's Military Airlift Command.

Krueger, a Lawrence resident and 20-year pilot for TWA Airlines, has made nine trips with the civilian fleet since January.

"It's the most exciting flying in the world, it'll set your hair on fire," he told about 50 members of the local Lions Club on Tuesday during a luncheon presentation in the Eldridge Hotel, 701 Mass.

Krueger, whose most recent trip was last week, says he'll be going back next week.

BUT THIS time, instead of taking soldiers to Saudi Arabia, he'll be bringing them home.

Krueger said the volunteer flying was his contribution to the Persian Gulf War effort.

"I wanted to do what I could," he said. "In a democracy, everyone has to do their part and I wanted to do mine."

Another pilot who served during the war also attended the luncheon.

Col. Charles M. "Mick" Baier Jr., commander of the 1701st Strategic Wing, a group of air tankers and bombers deployed during the war, said military and non-military American pilots performed well.

Baier, who also is commander of the 190th Air Refueling Group in the Kansas Air National Guard in Topeka, said there were a few close calls involving the aircraft in his group, but no losses.

"We had one aircraft that accidentally crashed into the side of the refueler . . . but that one made it back," he said. "We also had one plane that got caught in some turbulence and both of its engines on one side were torn off, but that one made it back too," he said.

KRUEGER PLAYED a video tape with television news clips of him and the Civil Reserve Air Fleet as part of Tuesday's presentation.

The video tape featured pictures that Krueger took when he landed at a Saudi air base.

Krueger also presented Baier with an American flag and congratulated him for a good job.

"I think the resurgence of respect for the flag was evident when we came home, and it's always nice to come home to that," Baier said.

Krueger also showed a shirt that he wore while flying to Saudi Arabia. The shirt is covered with the signatures of soldiers that Krueger met on the way to the Middle East.

After Tuesday's presentation, Krueger asked audience members to sign another shirt, which Krueger will wear on his next flight out of Saudi Arabia.

"This shirt will be a show of support from everybody back home for all the guys that I'll be bringing back," he said.

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