Today is the birthday of Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson, the American aeronautical and systems engineer. He is recognized for his contributions to a series of important aircraft designs. Besides the first production aircraft to exceed Mach 3, he also produced the first fighter capable of Mach 2, the United States’ first operational jet fighter, as well as the first fighter to exceed 400
Richard K. Koehnke
Colonel Koehnke is a Command pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours. He flew 285 combat missions over Southeast Asia in F-105 and F-4 aircraft. His military decorations and awards include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters and Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
Colonel Richard K. Koehnke was born June 29, 1938, in Rushville, Nebraska. He graduated from Albuquerque High School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and June 1956 and from Auburn University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and History. He was commissioned in March 1961. Colonel Koehnke earned a Master of Arts degree from Auburn University in 1980. He graduated from Air Command and Staff College in 1971 and Air War College in 1980.
Colonel Koehnke’s flying career began in February 1962 as an F-100 pilot with the 523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Cannon AFB, New Mexico. In February 1968 he transferred to Bitburg Air Base, Germany, and was assigned to the 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron flying F-105s. From April 1967 to June 1967, Colonel Koehnke served as an F-4 Wing Weapons Officer at the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, serving as an F-105 Wing Weapons Officer.
Colonel Koehnke returned stateside in April 1968 and was assigned as an F-4 Fighter Weapons Instructor at Nellis AFB, Nevada. He left Nellis in June 1970 and attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. From July 1971 to July 1974, he served as Chief, Air-to-Air Branch at Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley, AFB, Virginia. He returned to Thailand in July 1974 to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Udorn Royal Thai Air Base as Chief, Standardization and Evaluation.
In September 1975, Colonel Koehnke returned to Nellis AFB as the Operations Officer, 414th Fighter Weapons Squadron. From December 1977 to July 1979, he commanded the F-15 equipped 9th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. Colonel Koehnke attended Air War College in July 1979 and was designated a Distinguished Graduate.
Upon graduation in June 1980, Colonel Koehnke was assigned Test Director for the Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) at Kirkland AFB, New Mexico. In April 1982, he became the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Warfare Center, Eglin AFB, Florida.
Colonel Koehnke then moved in August 1983 to become the Vice Commander, 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Virginia.
In August 1985, Colonel Koehnke was assigned as Chief Tactical Weapons Division Directorate of Operational Requirements Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development and Acquisition, Headquarters United States Air Force, the Pentagon. Responding to Congressional mandates for acquisition reform, his responsibilities changed twice. In March 1987, he became the Chief, Tactical Division Directorate of Advanced Programs. In January 1988, he became Chief of the Advanced Programs Division, Directorate of Tactical Programs, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. Colonel Koehnke assumed his last position before his retirement as Deputy Director, Tactical Programs on October 1988 and retired from the Air Force in this position on September 28, 1990.
Colonel Koehnke was promoted to Colonel with a date of rank of 1 August 1981.
Colonel Koehnke’s first wife, the former Joan Julian of Albuquerque, New Mexico died in 1992. They had two sons, Christopher and Stephen. Colonel Koehnke married for the second time in 1999 to Margaret Glenna Doyle of Springfield, Virginia. Colonel and Mrs. Koehnke have five children and thirteen grandchildren between them. They reside on their farm in Warrenton, Virginia.