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Colonel Manfred Rietsch’s lifetime has covered half the globe from Poland to a cattle ranch in Wheatland, Wyoming.Colonel Rietsch’s story is an amazing one. In 1945 his family boarded a cattle car in Poland headed to East Germany to escape persecution from the Soviet Communists. Two years later, the family decided it would flee to the west after the East German government started indoctrinating school children with communist propaganda. Rietsch was five years old when they walked across the border in northern Germany with a guide in the middle of the night.The family relocated to America in 1956. Colonel Rietsch earned a degree in Philosophy and Literature from the University of Minnesota but pursued a new path that would confront the Communists again. In March of 1966, he entered the military to start his legendary lifetime of service.
Colonel Rietsch started his military career when he joined the United States Marine Corps attending Officer Candidate School at Quantico, Virginia. He went to flight school and eventually was assigned to a fighter squadron of F-4 Phantom IIs and arrived at Chu Lai Airbase in Vietnam. The F-4’s main advantage was speed over its opponent capable of flying over Mach 2.Soon he began 12-hour workdays flying bombing missions in support of United States ground troops and other aircraft. Many of the missions were night missions, often flying once or twice a day. Colonel Rietsch was also the maintenance control officer which involved four hours after already flying missions six to eight hours. By the time he left Vietnam, he had flown 651 combat missions, earned 52 air medals and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.Upon returning to the United States, Colonel Rietsch attended Top Gun school in Miramar, California and later served as the first Marine Top Gun instructor but his combat flying was not over. He flew over 70 missions in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the 1990s and retired in 1992 to work in the private sector having a master’s degree in System Management.One of Colonel Rietsch’s childhood ambitions was to live in Laramie, Wyoming after reading a Wild West Magazine as a child in Germany. Rietsch and his wife moved to Laramie, Wyoming in 2013 eventually living near Wheatland on their cattle ranch raising Red Angus heifers.Colonel Rietsch still feels to this day that the United States is such a great country full of opportunities and urges young men and woman to explore those opportunities.