Dean Pogreba was born on March 16, 1922, in Three Forks, Montana. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve on October 28, 1942, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on February 4, 1943. He was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on April 15, 1944, and then completed C-47 Skytrain transition training before serving as a C-47 and C-46 Commando pilot with the 4th Combat Cargo Group in India and Burma from November 1944 to October 1945. Capt Pogreba left active duty and entered the Air Force Reserve on June 15, 1946, and was reactivated in the U.S. Air Force on April 1, 1951. After completing jet fighter training, he served as an F-86 Sabre pilot with the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea during the last 6 months of the war in 1953, where he was credited with the destruction of 1 MiG-15 in aerial combat. He next completed instructor pilot training before serving as a flight instructor with the 3553rd Flying Training Squadron at Moody AFB, Georgia, from April to June 1954, and then as Assistant Chief of Operations with Headquarters Crew Training Air Force at Randolph AFB, Texas, from June 1954 to November 1955. Capt Pogreba served with the 3598th Combat Crew Training Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada, from November 1955 to June 1958, and then with the 4520th Combat Crew Training Group at Nellis from July 1958 to July 1959. His next assignment was as an exchange officer with the Royal Air Force in England from August 1959 to July 1961, followed by F-105 Thunderchief Combat Crew Training from July to November 1961. Maj Pogreba served as an F-105 pilot with the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, West Germany, from November 1961 to July 1963, and then with the 388th and 23rd Tactical Fighter Wings at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from July 1963 to May 1965. Maj Pogreba next served as Commander of the 562nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at McConnell AFB from May to July 1965, followed by service as Operations Officer for the 36th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Yokota AB, Japan, from July 1965 until he was listed as Missing in Action while serving on a temporary duty assignment to Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, on October 5, 1965. Dean Pogreba was promoted through the ranks to Colonel before being declared killed in action on November 22, 1977. His remains have never been recovered.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
Major Dean A. Pogreba distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force on 5 October 1965. On that date, Major Pogreba participated as a pilot and mission coordinator for a strike against a highly significant military target. Despite the extreme difficulty of overcast cloud layers, haze, and rain showers, Major Pogreba flew at low level through mountain passes to the target area while encountering devastating automatic weapons and antiaircraft artillery fire. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Major Pogreba climbed to 9,000 feet into overhanging clouds, which made him highly vulnerable to the hostile ground fire, and delivered his ordnance directly on the target. Major Pogreba then emerged from the clouds and though still subjected to intensive ground fire, assisted the other members of his flight in their weapons delivery, assuring complete destruction of this vital target. His courageous actions and determination are in keeping with the highest traditions of the American fighting man under attack by an opposing armed force. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness, Major Pogreba reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.