CAP sub chaser Vern Kramer passes away

World War II Civil Air Patrol sub chaser and South Dakota aviation legend Luverne “Vern” Kraemer passed away June 20, in Rapid City, S.D. at the age of 95. Kraemer is the last known CAP sub chaser in South Dakota.

Vern with his beloved Cub

Trained as a blacksmith by his father as a young man in Nemo in the Black Hills of South Dakota, it was aviation that was Kraemer’s lifelong passion.

While working at as a mechanic on B-29s in Wichita, Kans., the CAP asked Kraemer to be a sub chaser. Flying out of Patrol Base #1 in Atlantic City, N.J., Kraemer was a pilot, observer, and mechanic. He searched for German U-Boats stalking East Coast shipping.

“Vern served his country unselfishly to help protect the oil tankers that were so often being torpedoed by German subs,” said Col. John Seten, the S.D. Wing’s commander. “Vern and the other sub chasers displayed true heroic spirit during a time when the country needed them the most. It is unimaginable what Vern and the other pilots must have went through while performing the sub chasing missions.”

This painting by artist Leon Basler illustrates the rich history of Vern Kraemer’s life.

Records, although possibly incomplete, indicate that there were three individuals from South Dakota who were involved with the coastal patrol. They were Kraemer, Vernon Jeffries and Earl Wilkinson.

Following the end of sub chaser missions, Kraemer continued to fly CAP liaison missions and pulled targets for aerial gunnery training.

As exciting as Kraemer’s sub chasing career with the CAP was, he would go on to become a South Dakota aviation pioneer and legend. He once stowed aboard an airliner headed to Alaska. He built the first homebuilt airplane in South Dakota, which is now on display in the Rapid City Regional Airport Terminal. He was an early member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, with the member number 72. He is an inductee to the South Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame and the recipient of numerous state, national, and international awards as an aviator and aircraft mechanic.

His wife Norma Kraemer of Nemo, S.D., his daughter, Linda Collings of Burnsville, Minn., and three grandchildren survive him.

The South Dakota Wing of the CAP has approximately 300 cadet and adult members with squadrons in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, Pierre, Brookings, Custer, and Spearfish. In 2011, the wing flew numerous photo reconnaissance missions for the state of South Dakota and FEMA during flooding across South Dakota and received the national commander’s commendation for its efforts.






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  1. Randy Sohn says

    Was sorry to read here of his passing. I’d learned to fly from Eldon Sorenson at Worthington, Minnesota and Eldon told me of those many people that he knew of.  Walt Ball was partner of his in business.  Clyde Ice was another one, had met Clyde once on his 100th birthday out in Reno when his son, Cecil, introduced us.  Also remember my first cross country to a hard surfaced runway and controlled airport, Sioux Falls, SD in an Aeronca Champ and meeting Joe Foss (whose hangar had just burned down).  One of my good friends here, Sam Dupris, is also in the SD Aviation Hall of Fame.

    Best, Randy Sohn

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