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Fallen Trooper Frederick C Kielhorn

elmer ray pyle

Frederick C Kielhorn
1925 – 1961

Oregon State Trooper Frederick, "Fred", C. Kielhorn, age 36, was part of a group of police officers who had gone to Lompoc, California on Friday, September 8, 1961 to pick up a prisoner who had been extradited to Oregon to face burglary charges. They were on the return flight on the afternoon of Saturday September 9th. Yamhill County Sheriff Wallace Mekkers, State Police PFC. David J. Tindall, Jr. of McMinnville and trooper Kielhorn were in a light plane with the prisoner, Wayne Moon, and were nearing the McMinnville airport when the plane ran out of fuel. Witnesses heard the plane engine sputtering and saw it losing altitude just before the crash. A local farmer saw the plane, with the motor dead, crash into a tall fir tree and then fall into a ravine. Sheriff Mekkers, who was piloting the plane, suffered two broken legs and broken ribs. Trooper Tindall was thrown from the plane and knocked unconscious. The prisoner, Moon, suffered cuts but was the least severely injured and attended to Trooper Tindall until medical aid arrived. Trooper Kielhorn, who was sitting in the front seat next to Sheriff Mekkers, was killed on impact. None of the police officers were in uniform and it took some time before the injured were identified and Moon determined to be a prisoner. He was taken into custody and later when he was brought before a Judge in McMinnville all charges were dropped, probably related to his conduct at the time of the accident. Trooper Tindall and Sheriff Mekkers were both experienced pilots. Sheriff Mekkers said later that just before the plane ran out of fuel the gauge had read about ¼ of a tank. Trooper Kielhorn joined the Oregon State Police in 1951 and had been assigned to the Baker office prior to moving to McMinnville in 1953. He was born in Englewood, Colorado on August 27, 1925 to Christian and Ida Menneke Kielhorn. His father died when Fred was about 10 years old. The family eventually moved to Ontario, Oregon and later to Portland where he graduated from high school. He was a naval veteran of World War II. He enlisted in August 1943 and served on a destroyer until he was discharged in 1946. He married Evelyn Stajger in 1951 and had two children. He was a member of the Elks Lodge and was a Mason. He was buried at Evergreen Memorial Park in McMinnville.

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