Francis M. (Brink) Brinkmeyer

1919 - 2022


Their Story

Francis Marion “Brink” Brinkmeyer was born on the family homestead in the Hubbard/Radcliff, IA, area on August 14, 1919, to Emil and Ida (Lehmeier) Brinkmeyer.[1] He was the third of five boys growing up on the farm with no running water or electricity. Riding to school on a pony each day, he attended a one-room schoolhouse and often recounted the great education and fun he had at school and on the farm. He was a 1937 graduate of Hubbard High School where he served as class president. Shortly after graduating from Iowa State College with a BS in Agricultural Engineering in 1942, he enlisted in the US Navy to serve his country in World War II. He married Margaret (Kurtz) Brinkmeyer on August 22, 1953, and they were married nearly 69 years. They had five children, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Francis M. (Brink) Brinkmeyer in his younger years

He worked as a product design engineer at Deere & Company for 36 years, retiring in 1982. Collaborating with others, Brink is credited with four patents during his time at Deere[2] and was most proud of the work related to the JD570 Motor Grader.[3] He and his wife Peg also owned and operated the Kwik-Kleen Laundromat in Rock Island for over 23 years. He was a 76-year member of First Congregational Church, Moline, where he taught Sunday school for many years. He and Peg loved hosting July 4th barbecues each year that culminated with his own fireworks display.

Known by the nickname Brink, he had a lifelong passion for aviation that began at age 7, when Charles Lindbergh made the first nonstop transatlantic flight in 1927. Learning to fly through the Civilian Pilot Training Program, he first soloed in June of 1942. This training gave him a start when he trained as a US Navy pilot in Corpus Christi NAS in the fall of 1942. He received his Navy wings in August 1943. He was assigned to the Navy’s Special Task Air Group, testing the first combat drones using radio control and TV monitors.

Francis M. (Brink) Brinkmeyer lived to 102 years of age

In November, 1944, he joined JM-13, a Navy utility squadron as a Patrol Plane Commander. Flying out of airfields in Guadalcanal and later Samar, he ferried personnel, towed targets, and patrolled throughout the South Pacific. On January 29, 1945, VJ-13 sailed on the USS Burleigh for Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.[4] On Valentine’s Day 1945, the squadron and its equipment were put ashore by landing craft on Guadalcanal. While at Guadalcanal the squadron provided the following services: AA towing and tracking (for ship and shore), night tracking and RCM practices, radar calibration, aerial mapping duties, photographing landing operations, mail runs, night flare rehearsals, transportation and ferrying duties, fighter directive practice, radar countermeasures exercises (both day and night), air sea rescue, anti-submarine patrols, administration flights, and rehearsals for air support strikes by landing forces.

On June 1st, VJ-13 prepared to move to Guiuan Field, Eastern Samar, Philippine Islands. Utility operations had already begun on June 15, providing AA towing services for the Pacific fleet stationed in Leyte Gulf, San Pedro Bay, and the vicinity.

He was honorably discharged from active-duty February 16, 1946.[5] He continued to serve in the Navy Reserve and was a lieutenant junior grade in August of 1947 when he and other members of the Navy Air Reserve in Moline, had proposed a Quad-City Naval Reserve Air Wing there.[6] They took steps to be activated by the Navy Department. The Navy Department approved the activation; in May 1948, the air wing was activated at a ceremony at the Quad City Airport. Activation meant members would receive four days active duty pay per month for meetings and members would have access to planes for flight training.  Brink was promoted to LCDR in 1955 and retired as a Lieutenant Commander from the USNR in 1965.[7]


[1] Francis Brinkmeyer Obituary (2022) – Moline, IL – Quad-City Times (

[2] US3143814A – Scrapers – Google Patents

[3] US3327413A – Material grading implement – Google Patents

[4] The B-26 Marauder in US Navy & Marine Corps Service

[5] Iowa, U.S., World War II Bonus Case Files, 1947-1954

[6] The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) · 15 May 1948, Sat · Page 3 – Air Wing to be Activated

[7] U.S., Navy and Marine Corps Registries, 1814-1992 for Francis Marion Brinkmeyer Navy Register: Retired Officers of the U.S. Navy 1966 (v.1)