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1941 Darrell Rae Grosland 2022

Darrell Rae Grosland

August 2, 1941 — November 7, 2022

Rancho Mirage, CA formerly of Mason City


Darrell Rae Grosland Lt. Col. of Rancho Mirage, formerly of Mason City, was called home to be with his Lord and Savior on November 7, 2022. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 am, preceded by a visitation on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 213 N Pennsylvania Ave, with Pastor Dan Dahl officiating. Please join us in a celebration of Darrell’s life. Services will be livestreamed on the Major Erickson Funeral Home Facebook page also. Inurnment will be held in Elmwood-St. Joseph Cemetery.

Darrell was born on August 2, 1941, in Mason City to parents Verna (Nehls) and Selmer Grosland. After graduating high school in 1959, Darrell was awarded an athletic scholarship for his exceptional performance as a wrestler and enrolled at Minnesota State University- Mankato where he received his bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Management. He had aspirations of becoming a pilot, so he enlisted in the Air Force in December of 1963 and began what would become a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Military.

Darrell’s first assignment upon entering the service was as an officer trainee at Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas. Once he graduated from officer training school in 1964, he was awarded the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and was transferred to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, where he was assigned to the 516th Tactical Airlift Win and his duties included instructing and examiner duties for flight operations. During his assignment Darrell attended Air Command and Staff College in Alabama, which was necessary for advancing his Air Force career. Not feeling this was challenging enough, he decided to attend graduate-school at Auburn University concurrent with his officer studies where he received his MBA.

Upon returning to Texas, Darrell’s job as a navigator on C-130 “Hercules” aircraft, which can haul cargo and troops, took him to Asia, Europe, Alaska, and Greenland. His service in Asia during this period included more than 350 combat missions during the Vietnam Conflict. While on missions to Alaska, Darrell was taken with the beauty and vastness of the state, where he would invest in an acreage and townhouse in Anchorage.

After the end of the Vietnam War, Darrell was assigned to Hill AFB Air Logistics Center in Ogden, Utah, where he performed the duties of an audit manager. Darrell’s knowledge of business principles, accounting and other skills made him essential in sorting out the many logistical challenges facing a busy distribution hub for the Air Force. His superiors recognized Darrell’s abilities, and in 1978, they assigned him to the 332nd Airlift Division at Ramstein AB in Germany. There he would have the position of Senior Controller and was in charge of over 100 aircraft operating in the European Theater. His responsibilities included decision making and actions involving diplomatic clearances, maintenance, and coordination with lower-level control centers. Coaching wrestling teams and mentoring young men aspiring to improve themselves was also a favorite pastime for Darrell during his tenure in the Air Force.

In the early 1980’s Darrell was able to return to his beloved Alaska, where he was assigned to the 616th Military Airlift Group located at Elmendorf AFB. There, he was the Chief of Operational Planning, which included coordinating activities between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Air Force Joint-Task Force Alaska Command. In 1983, he was assigned to Norton AFB in Southern California. His position was Chief of Staff for the audit agency within the Air Force where he practiced his accounting, auditing and business skills to discover and eliminate financial inconsistencies. Communications and intelligence oversight was among his overall duties that was carried out by 75 subordinates that Darrell supervised.

Darrell’s responsibilities as an auditor required him to attend many high-level functions concerning fraud and discrepancies occurring within the Air Force. Regular trips to The Pentagon were not unusual during his time as an auditor. In 1986, Darrell would receive his final posting at Nellis AFB in Nevada. There he was the Director of Inspection and Evaluation for the USAF Tactical Fighter Weapons Center. He was responsible for supervising investigations, inquiries and inspections that emanated from the highest levels of government, including congress. After 24 years of service to his country, Darrell retired at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in February of 1988. His long and distinguished service included the following Honors and Commendations: Meritorious Service Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with Five Oak Leaf Clusters, Distinguished Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, National Defense Service Ribbon, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, Air Force Overseas Long Tour Ribbon with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Training Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Oak Leaf Cluster.

Upon retiring from the Air Force, Darrell was presented an opportunity to become a Manager at McDonnell Douglas Aircraft. He worked in the manufacturing facility in Long Beach, California where the C-17 military transport aircraft were made. Policy and procedure management for the C-17, MD-80 and MD-11 programs were his primary focus while at the company. He managed 6 group leaders and 44 analysts, their accomplishments would earn him and his team several accolades: including, Quality assurance Awards, Outstanding Manager, and Excellence in Manufacturing. Bowing would go on to acquire McDonnell Douglas and after the re-organization Darrell felt it was time to leave and begin a new chapter.

After 7 years in the aerospace business, he thought it would be a good time to start his own air charter business (Air Palm Springs) and he purchased a home in Sunrise Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. Darrell built his business over the next 20 years, he had several different aircraft which provided private transportation services to several local businesses, golfers, and on occasion he brokered and personally arranged flights for Gerald and Betty Ford, The Secret Service, and Senator Ted Stevens. He employed, managed, and mentored several pilots over the many years he operated the business, which required extensive hours and lots of administrative work, including working frequently with the FAA on compliance matters and operational inspections.

Darrell split his time between his homes in California and Alaska. The charter business was usually slow during the hot summer months in Palm Springs, so he retreated to Alaska where he kept a personal float airplane. This allowed him to land on and enjoy the many lakes and rivers located in and around the acreage he owned there. He would often fish with the many friends he had in Alaska. In the early 2010’s, Darrell suffered a stroke which limited his ability to travel. This combined with other health issue’s stemming from an exposure to “agent orange” while in Vietnam would end his Alaska trips, and eventually cause him to sell the business that he had run for 20 years.

Darrell spent his final years living in Rancho Mirage, CA where he often communicated with the many friends he had made in Alaska, Iowa and California. He was notorious for decorating his golf cart, garage and just about anything else he could in the Hawkeye’s gold and black signature colors! His love of his home team was immeasurable.  Darrell never missed a sporting event or opportunity to recruit new fans for his beloved Hawkeye’s.

Darrell’s legacy can be measured by the successes and numerous accomplishments he achieved over a long career. But his character is what will be most remembered by his family, friends, and the countless others whose lives he impacted. His ability to lead, inspire and encourage those who knew him was pervasive. He will be missed by so many that recognized his honor, leadership, intelligence, and unique mannerisms were forged from uncommon qualities. He was like no other, everyone he leaves behind is blessed with the memories and the realization of our great fortune to have known him.

Left to cherish his memory are his brother Ron (Ada) Grosland and twin sister Darlene Fountas; many nieces, nephews and dear friends. 

Darrell was preceded in death by his grandparents; parents; sister, Sandra Hennick; brothers-in-law, Nick Fountas and Ronald Hennick and 27 aunts and uncles.

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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