Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
David Alan Mertens, SMSgt., USAF (Retired)December 05, 1957 – March 12, 2019
David Alan Mertens, age 61, died unexpectedly from heart failure at his lake home outside of Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. He was born on Dec. 5, 1957, in West Bend, Wis., to Russell and Jean (Lemke) Mertens.
Dave was the youngest of four children. He was a 1976 graduate from West Bend East High School. Dave married Linda Cannavo on June 14, 1983, and together they raised two children, Adam and Nicky.
Dave joined the United States Air Force in January 1983. After graduating from Pararescue training in 1984, he was stationed at Osan Air Force Base, Korea, for one year. The family moved to Alaska in July 1985, where he served in the 71st Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron until 1990, when he transferred to the Alaska Air National Guard, 210th Rescue Squadron. Dave continued to be a Pararescueman until 2000, when he retrained into the Command and Control career field and was assigned to the 176th Wing Command Post. In 2010, Dave was then assigned to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center until his retirement in 2012. Awards and decorations included the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal and Air Force Good Conduct medal.
Dave was a private person, but he loved occasions to visit and share stories with friends and coworkers. He had a special knack for striking up conversations with neighbors and people he met in the restaurant or at the hardware store. It might not be an exaggeration to say that Dave loved his “critters” even more than most people. Dave’s lifelong passion was for birds of all types. He raised ducks growing up in Wisconsin, and in Anchorage as an adult expanded his flock to include cockatiels, parrots, chickens and doves. To accommodate his flock, he built an elaborate sun-room and aviary onto his house. One year, Dave even served as a surrogate parent for baby Canada geese, hand-feeding and teaching them to fly so they could join the migration south that winter.
David is survived by his companion of 15 years, Barbara Donatelli; son, Adam Gebhard; daughter, Nicole “Nicky” Stark (John); Linda Mertens; his three siblings, Mary Bigler Little of New Glarus, Wis., Steve (Bernice) Mertens of Coloma, Wis., and Patrick (Connie) Mertens of Kiel, Wis.; and his nieces and a nephew. David was preceded in death by his parents.
A military service will be held on Thursday, April 18, 2019, at Fort Richardson National Cemetery. Attendees are asked to assemble at the Security Hut at the Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson main gate – Arctic Valley exit off the Glenn Highway – at 2 p.m. where they will be escorted to the cemetery. A reception will follow at the 212th Rescue Squadron – Pararescue Section.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Alaska Bird Club, P.O. Box 101825, Anchorage, AK 99510
~ GUEST BOOK ~
April 15, 2019En Romanos 6:23 Porque el salario que el pecado paga es muerte, pero el don que Dios da es vida eterna por Cristo Jesús nuestro Señor. Todos nosotros hemos heredado el pecado mediante nuestros primeros padres , Adan y Eva. Por eso es que existe el pecado y la muerte . Pero Jehová Dios nos da una esperanza y es vida eterna , ya que él dio a su hijo unigénito por todos nosotros , para poder ser liberados del pecado y la muerte. Qué gran esperanza nos da Jehová , vamos a vivir para siempre , muy pronto.
April 14, 2019Dave, I will never forget first meeting you when you responded to my ‘for save’ ad back in 1997 when I was a college student, and coming across you through the years during my various years working at different places. You will be missed.~Joe Leong, anchorage, Alaska
April 14, 2019Soldier On my friend Thank you for your service and sacrifice.~Frederic Ready, Anchorage, Alaska
April 14, 2019Just needing you to know Uncle Dave that I could not have been prouder to be your niece… The adventures you took me on when you came to visit will forever be in my mind and in my heart it was fun only you and I had and you could not have been prouder to have me next to you as your lil side kick no matter where you went or what you were doing… When I came with grandma and grandpa up to anchorage you made sure to not have me miss anything and experience ALL that I possibly could and the fact that I got to do all that with you makes me know now just how much you loved me … I always thought you were a superhero when I was younger and growing up that never changed I am so proud of to be your niece please watch over my babies.. Give grandma and grandpa kisses from me… I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK … XOXO Rest in paradise Uncle Dave…~Shana Hernandez, Almond, Wisconsin
April 14, 2019Dave, you were one of the nicest people I ever met. I will always remember you feeding those featherless baby birds in the Command Post. You were a credit to your family, your State, and the United States Military. You will be missed. Our condolences to your family and friends.Catherine and Timothy O’Brien~Catherine O’Brien, Vancouver, Washington
April 14, 2019Floral Arrangement courtesy of~Frederic Ready Soldier Salute Standing Spray
April 14, 2019My condolences to the family and friends of a man I’ve known for many years. Dave was a unique individual that continued to surprise me during our time together in Alaska. He was also the first man I ever saw who packed a suitcase and television during one of our Denali training exercises. Dave will certainly be missed by all. Carl Brooks~Carl Brooks, COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado
April 14, 2019A great American. Rest in Peace Chief Dave.~Mike Bridges, Anchorage, Alaska
April 13, 2019Please accept my heartfelt sympathy; I am sorry for your loss. May the God who “binds up the brokenhearted” and “comforts all who mourn” sustain your family during this difficult time. Isaiah 61:1,2
April 13, 2019Please accept my sincere condolences. You are not alone during this time of sorrow and pain. May God give you and your family strength and comfort to help you endure this loss. As you remember your beloved one, the God of peace will give you comfort and peace in every way. May you find Strength from the love and care that surrounds you and your family and the comfort in the memories that you shared. 2 Thessalonians 2 15,16 .~M C
April 12, 2019After talking with him at Kulis one night hell I thought he was older than me. Dave was a down to earth person, very good person.~Vern Cordell