Retired Commander Karl “Bud” Kuehner died peacefully on Jan. 17, 2012 at the new Veteran’s Living Center American Lake in Tacoma, Wash., after a fifteen year battle with Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body dementia.
Bud was born June 27, 1929 in Chehalis, Wash. to then Chehalis Fire Chief, Ernie Kuehner, and his wife, Pauline Kuehner. He graduated from Chehalis High School in 1947. He received a business degree from the University of Washington and a Master’s of Science from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He entered into the Naval Aviation program in 1950, receiving the Navy Wings of Gold as an aircraft carrier pilot.
Bud flew the F9F Panther Jet in the Korean War. His support squadron, “The Black Angels” were responsible for many successful missions; one being the Hamhung Hiway Bridge. During this mission, each plane was equipped with two 1,000 pound bombs. Bud’s two bombs hit the deck of the bridge, squarely leaving a large span of the bridge collapsed. This caused the main supply route to be stifled and his mission significantly altered the outcome of the war. During the Korean and Vietnam war Bud flew 77 combat missions. Kuehner’s decorations include the Meritorious Air Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal and the Navy Unit Commendation. He also earned the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, the Korean Service medal with two Bronze Stars, China Service Medal, armed forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Stars, United Nations Service Medal and Korean Presidential Unit Citation Badge.
During the 1960’s Bud flew A3D reconnaissance mission over Vietnam in support of South Vietnamese and American advisors. Bud was the Commanding Officer of the Navy’s Personnel Research and Development Laboratory in San Diego, Calif., where he had thirty-five civilian PhD’s working in his laboratory.
During this tour he received Navy Meritorious Service Medal for building a dynamic research program aimed directly at the most severe personnel problems facing the Navy.
In 1956 he married JoAnn Welch from Chehalis. Bud and Jo had three children, Tracey (Cox), Terri (Herren) and Michael Kuehner. Together, Bud and Jo had an amazing marriage for fifty-five years and are an inspiration to their family and friends. During their married life together they lived in Kingsville, Texas, Monterey, Calif., San Diego, Calif., Oak Harbor, Wash., Yokohama, Japan, Alexandria, Va. and Washington, D.C.
In 1972 Bud retired from the Navy and moved his family to Chehalis where he could pursue the wonders of the Great Northwest; hunting, fishing and clam digging. Bud started his second career and served as the Lewis County Treasurer for four terms, 16 years. During his time as the county treasurer he was able to invest the county’s money at sometimes over 20% allowing the Lewis County Court House Annex to be built almost free. Bud was also a past president and member of the Chehalis Rotary Club, a Life Time member of the Elks Club. Bud served on the Airport Board, Centralia College Board, he was appointed by Washington Governor Dixy Lee Ray to the Economic Assistance Authority, he was on the board for Congressman Don Bonker’s Service Academy Selection and was a past president and member of the Washington State Treasurers’ Association.
Bud was preceded in death by his parents Ernie and Pauline Kuehner, and his beloved grandson, Brian Cox, in 2008. He is survived by his wife, Jo; children Tracey (Mike) Cox, Terri (Dee) Herren and Michael (Brenda) Kuehner; grandchildren, Kevin Cox, Danny Cox, KC (Breana) Herren, Kate Herren, Kristin Herren, Kingston Kuehner, Karson Kuehner, Kastle Kuehner, Kaspen Kuehner and their faithful dog, Muggie. Sisters, Louise Garbe, Seattle, Frances Cleland, Lacey, Adele (Bill) Carlson, Chehalis, Lynn (Ed) Rodriguez, Lacey and multiple nieces and nephews. Karl “Bud” Kuehner had many accomplishments in his life, his family will be his everlasting legacy.
Interment with military honors, was on Monday, Jan. 23rd 2012 at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Wash. In lieu of flowers, you may donate to the Brian Cox Memorial Scholarship Fund, W.F. West High School 342 S.W. 16th St. Chehalis, WA, 98532 or the Lewis County Veteran’s Museum 100 S.W. Veterans Way, Chehalis, WA, 98532.