Sun Prairie Marine Corps veteran Roger Fetterly was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot honor by the Federal Aviation Administration last month for 50 years of safe flying and dedication to aviation. It’s the most prestigious award given by the FAA to pilots.
Fetterly, a current Town of Sun Prairie resident, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1954 and began primary flight training in 1957 in a T-34 Beechcraft. In 1958, Fetterly began flying helicopters. He eventually qualified in six fixed-wing types and six helicopter types in his military career. That career culminated in almost 5,500 hours of flight time, including 733 combat hours in the Vietnam War (Feb. 1965-Oct. 1965 and Aug. 1968-Sept. 1969), 500 strikes/flight missions and 25 Air Medal awards. The former USMC Major retired from active duty in July 1977.
Fetterly, age 83, continues to fly today as part of the University of Wisconsin Flying Club, and recently received his civilian instructor rating. He has flown over 250 Young Eagles and continues to share his joy for aviation with others.
First inspiration: “I was given a wooden toy airplane a B-17 Flying Fortress. As a kid growing up in the 1940s during World War II, I dreamed of flying that plane someday.”
Greatest aviation achievement: “The thing that I am most proud of in my combat flying in Vietnam is that no one got hurt on my watch. If you flew with me, I got you where you were supposed to go, and I got you back. That was my biggest achievement.”
On his aviation career: “It was a wonderful adventure. I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.”