Karl Dittmer was born on January 1, 1923, in El Reno, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on April 6, 1942, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt and awarded his pilot wings on April 22, 1943. After completing B-17 Flying Fortress training, he served as a B-17 aircraft commander with the 549th Bomb Squadron of the 385th Bomb Group in England from January to November 1944, followed by service as a P-51 Mustang pilot with the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group from September 1944 to February 1945. During his time with the 352nd Fighter Group, he was credited with the destruction of 1 enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Capt Dittmer left active duty and joined the Air Force Reserve on October 9, 1945 and was recalled to active duty with the Air Force on March 10, 1951. His next assignment was as a B-29 Superfortress pilot with the 24th Bomb Squadron of the 6th Bomb Wing at Walker AFB, New Mexico, from March to December 1951, followed by service as an F-51 Mustang pilot with the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 18th Fighter Bomber Group in Korea from December 1951 to May 1952. Capt Dittmer transferred to the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group in May 1952, where he flew F-86 Sabre fighters until returning to the U.S. in December 1952. During this time he was credited with the destruction of 3 MIG-15 fighters in aerial combat, plus 5 more damaged, for a total of 4 destroyed and 5 damaged in two wars. His next assignment was as an F-86 pilot with the 417th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Clovis AFB, New Mexico, from December 1952 to May 1953, and then on the staff of the 37th Fighter Bomber Group at Clovis from May to August 1953. Maj Dittmer served as an F-86 pilot with the 389th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Alexandria AFB, Louisiana, from August 1953 to January 1954, and then on the staff of the 366th Fighter Bomber Wing at Alexandria from February 1954 to March 1955. His next assignment was on the staff of Headquarters 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from March 1955 to March 1957, followed by service on the staff of Headquarters Pacific Air Forces at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from March 1957 to January 1960. Maj Dittmer served on the staff of Headquarters Continental Air Command at Mitchel AFB, New York, from January to August 1960, and then served on the staff of Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from August 1960 to December 1965, where he founded Tactical Air Command's flying safety magazine Tac Attack. Col Dittmer deployed to Southeast Asia in February 1966 where he served as an O-1 Bird Dog pilot and Tactical Air Liaison Officer with the 505th Tactical Control Group at Tan Son Nhut AB, South Vietnam, from February to April 1966, and then with the 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron at Can Tho AB, South Vietnam, from April 1966 to February 1967. His final assignment was as editor of the Aerospace Safety Magazine and Driver magazine put out by the 1002nd Inspector General Group at Norton AFB, California, from February 1967 until his retirement from the Air Force on October 1, 1969. Karl Dittmer died on November 20, 2003.
His 3rd Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
On 9 October 1952, Captain Karl K. Dittmer distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement and heroism in aerial combat as pilot of an F-86 aircraft, 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing, 5th Air Force, against enemies of the United Nations in Korea. While flying in an element of four F-86s, two MIGs were sighted below Captain Dittmer's element. He initiated an immediate attack on one MIG with a series of firing passes that started the enemy aircraft smoking profusely and caused the pilot to eject. He then swung over to the other MIG and as he was closing he was attacked by another flight of MIGs. With complete disregard for his own personal safety he continued to press his attack firing several short bursts into the MIG. As the target started to burn Captain Dittmer released one long burst that caused the pilot to lose control and the aircraft crashed to the ground. By his high devotion to duty Captain Dittmer destroyed two enemy MIGs reflecting the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.