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Tamara Mielke

In Memory of Lt Col Tami “Bulldog” Mielke, USAF

September 10, 1963 – June 24, 2014

114th Fighter Wing, SD Air National Guard

Commander 447th EFSS, Sather AB Iraq 

February – June 2010

Tami was the first born child of Gary and Karen Kratochvil. She was born 09/10/63. Family was everything to her and many traditions were carried into adulthood from her childhood and still remain today in her absence. She was very proud of her children, Austin and Ashley. 

Tami enlisted in the SD Air National Guard with her husband, Steve, in 1985. Dedicated to serving her country for 28 years, she reached the pinnacle of Colonel (sel). She served in Panama and Iraq. She was selected as the first female Group Commander of the Fighter Wing of the SD Air National Guard. There has not been another female placed in this capacity since Tami. In Iraq, she was given the nickname ” Bulldog” for her tenacity, focus, drive and “get it done” attitude. Her troops looked up to her for her guidance, leadership and empathy. While in Iraq, Tami was in charge of preparing 45 bodies of her fallen comrades for return to the United States. She also wrote 45 personnel letters to grieving families in the hopes of bringing some type of peace assuring them their fallen served with honor and would not be forgotten. What she experienced cannot be fully expressed in words. She loved God, serving her country and her family

Remembrances shared:

“I hope and pray that God comforts you during these difficult days ahead. Tami was a role model and inspiration to myself and so many others. She taught us to always give 110%, to speak w conviction, to put passion into our work and to never forget that every day is a job interview. My heart hurts and I will greatly miss my boss, my Commander, my role-model and especially my friend.”

“You were so beautiful in many different ways. I am glad I got to see you again especially years after Iraq. When I saw you last you asked me “What do we have to do to get your next stripe?” I told you, it’s all on me. I have to study more. You replied with “Well what are you waiting for??” I wanted to tell you I did it. I earned my next stripe. There are three things that I will remember when I think of you. Your gorgeous smile, your go get ’em attitude and pink combat boots. To the Mielke family: I am so glad I got to meet her and serve with her. She was an incredible person and unlike anyone I have ever met. I am so sorry for your loss as the person I knew was beyond words and touched my life.”

State she called home: South Dakota

Place of Rest: Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, Hartford, SD

Mielke Tamara USAF