Lt. Col. Ret. Roger “Joe” MerteLt. Col. Ret. Roger “Joe” Mertes 63, of Detroit Lakes, Minn. passed away at his lake home on Lake Melissa January 28, 2013. Roger was born August 20, 1949, the son of Theodore and Esther (Puetz) Mertes in Fargo, North Dakota. Roger graduated in 1967 from West Anchorage High School in Alaska and enrolled at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU he participated in the ROTC program and was a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity. Roger was commissioned a second lieutenant in the USAF upon graduation from NDSU and went on to earn his Master's degree at UND.
Following his father's footsteps, Roger aspired to become a pilot. He traveled to Big Spring, TX to attend pilot training. Not long into his military career, Roger, now known as "Rosebud”, got behind the controls of a B-52 Bomber. The B-52 was the last plane he flew and the plane that started his legacy. By the end of the career, his office space increased as he moved from the cockpit of a plane to an office with a desk. Roger spent his last years in the USAF as a squadron commander in Minot, ND leading 500 men and women through the Gulf War.