James Behrens, age 69, of Finlayson, MN, died Friday, July 3, 2015.
Honorary bearers include the Marietta American Legion Post #156.
James Henry Behrens was born on April 27, 1946, in Madison, MN, to Dietrich Heinrich Albert Siegfried and Dora Hulda Emma (Schoenrock) Behrens. He was raised on the family farm near Marietta, MN and lived there until he graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1968. On June 18, 1968, Jim enlisted in the United States Air Force in Minneapolis, MN. After joining the Air Force, Jim was stationed at Lackland AFB Texas for Officer Training School, which he began in September and finished in December 1968. Jim then attended the Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course at Chanute AFB Illinois from January to August 1969. He spent a year at DaNang Air Base in the Republic of Vietnam as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer in the “Gunfighter” Wing. Jim was then reassigned to Mt. Home AFB Idaho from September 1970 until May 1973, when he attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Columbus AFB Mississippi, finishing in June 1974. Later that fall, Jim was assigned to Norton AFB California where he flew C-141 Starlifters in the 53rd Military Airlift Squadron until July 1979. He then left active duty but remained in the Air Force Reserves until May 1999, when he retired at Hill AFB Utah as a full Colonel after nearly 31 years in uniform.
In August 1979, Jim moved back to Marietta to continue farming the home farm. He farmed from August 1979, until the drought of 1988 when he retired from farming. Still, he continued to live on the Marietta farm while also flying for several different airlines. He was a pilot for Air Madison, Pan American World Airways out of JFK Airport, NY, Express One in Dallas, TX, Carnival Airlines out of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Sun Country in Minneapolis, MN. Due to 9/11, Sun Country went out of business but returned to flying shortly after. Jim was recalled to return to flying for Sun Country phase II. In 2006, at the age of 60, Jim retired from Sun Country. He was later hired by Champion Air out of Minneapolis, MN, flying as a Flight Engineer. After Champion Air went out of business, Jim began flying Fire Detection for DNR and for Eagle Air, Inc. out of Hinckley, MN until he was medically unqualified to fly as a commercial pilot. Jim also worked for the City of Marietta from September 1995 until October 1996 and proudly owned and operated Behrens Aviation from November 1994 until September 2009. There he did some commercial flying but also had the pleasure of sharing his talents through flight instruction. In the fall of 2009, Jim’s cancer returned and he was no longer allowed to fly.
On December 12, 1997, Jim was united in marriage with Susan Elaine (Emmons) Zajic at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Canby, MN.
Jim was a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in rural Sandstone, MN. He was also a lifetime member of the Marietta American Legion Post 156, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Air Force Association, Vietnam Veterans of America, Reserve Officer Association, Military Officer Association of America, Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Aircraft Owner’s and Pilot’s Association.
Left to cherish his memory is his wife, Susan Behrens; sons, Nicholas Behrens of Bloomington, MN and Kirwin Behrens of Lake Mary, FL; grandson, Odin Behrens; stepchildren: Troy (Lisa) Castillo of Helens, OR; Jeni Zajic of Windom, MN; Jacob (Merissa) Zajic and family of Friend, NE; and Justin (Kacie) Zajic and family of Mitchell, SD; sister, Geneva James of Papillion, NE; brother, Charles (Mary) Behrens of Mankato, MN; nieces and nephews: Scott (Andrea) James; Dawn (Phil) Kernen and family; and Matthew Behrens.
He was preceded in death by his parents.