St. Paul Dredge Masters of the U.S. Dredge Thompson and U.S. Dredge Goetz

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Allen W. Fiedler
Third Master of the U.S. Dredge Thompson
1956-1968
Capt. Allen W. Fiedler (1908-1987) was a member of the first crew on the U.S. Dredge Thompson. He began his 42-year career with the Corps of Engineers in 1924, hauling willow and rocks for wing dam construction. In 1926, he became a towboat deckhand on the Corps’ steamboat the U.S. General Allen. In 1933, he was promoted to pilot. In 1937, he piloted the U.S. Dredge Thompson, after the christening at the Dravo Corporation shipyard in Pennsylvania, to Fountain City, Wisconsin. He received numerous awards for this outstanding performance and was cited in 1940 by the Chief of Engineers for his role in the rescue of people during the Armistice Day Storm. In 1949, he was cited by the district commander for his outstanding effort on the Snowbound Disaster Force. He was known as Capt. Allie to his friends and subordinates and was inducted into the District’s Hall of Fame in 1972. On Aug. 30, 1991, a 46-foot, 35-ton tender vessel named the U.S. Fiedler was christened in Fountain City in his honor by friends and family who broke water balloons on her hull. Life on the river ran in the Fiedler family. Fiedler’s father, Louis B. Fiedler worked for the district as a carpenter, foreman and superintendent at the district’s Fountain City Service Base for 39 years. His son, Gerald, also worked on the Thompson.

Allen W. Fiedler

Arley “Butch” C. Martin, III
Eighth and Last Master of the U.S. Dredge
Thompson from 2001-2005 and First Master of the U.S. Dredge Goetz from
2005-2009
Capt. Arley “Butch” C. Martin, III (1948-2011) started working for St. Paul District as a deckhand aboard the U.S. Dredge Thompson in 1986 and worked his way up through the ranks to become its master in 2001 and then master of the U.S. Dredge Goetz in 2005 until his retirement in 2009. Martin credited his selection to his predecessor, David Peck, who he said was a great mentor and friend. The challenge during his tenure included transitioning the crew from the Thompson to the Goetz, which he called a new era of dredging. Martin told Crosscurrents in 2002, “You learn to live with the sounds and vibrations of the dredge. I can sleep a lot better when dredging than when we're still. … I love my job; I wouldn't trade places with anyone."

Brian Krause
Third Master of the U.S. Dredge Goetz
2015-Present
Capt. Brian Krause (1977-- ) started working for the St. Paul District in 1993 as a temporary laborer at Lock and Dam 5 during high school summer break during the great flood of 1993 and again in 1994. He graduated high school in 1995 and was hired with the district’s rivers and harbors section, now called maintenance and repair, in 1996. Krause transferred to the Dredge Thompson in 1997 as a deckhand and worked his way up to engineering equipment operator and then master tender operator. In 2005, he helped with the transition to the new Dredge Goetz and the rest of the new dredging fleet. He later became 2nd Mate and then Captain in 2015. Krause got to be part of the U.S. Dredge Goetz, U.S. General Warren and U.S. Quarters Boat Taggatz christenings. He said that he was lucky enough to work on the Dredge Thompson and personally know the last five Captains and worked for/with the last three Captains. Krause said that he retained an unimaginable amount of dredging/life information from all of them along with the other crew members.

Clarence “Slim” Fleukiger
Fourth Master of the U.S. Dredge Thompson
1968-1977
Capt. Clarence August “Slim” Fluekiger (1918-1990) of Alma, Wisconsin, started as a deckhand on the U.S. Dredge Thompson in 1945. He worked his way up to serve as master of the Thompson from 1968-1977. He served during a period when the Corps transitioned to dredging operations tailored to enhancing the environment on the river. On Aug. 30, 1991, a 46-foot, 35-ton tender vessel named the U.S. Fluekiger was christened in his honor at the Fountain City Service Base in Fountain City, Wisconsin, by friends and family who broke water balloons on her hull. Life on the river ran in the Fluekiger family. Captain Fluekiger’s brother Walter “Buck” Fluekiger was a Maintenance and Repair foreman at Fountain City. A third brother, Harry Fluekiger, was an Equipment and Repairman at Lock and Dam No. 4. The captain’s great-nephew, Terrance Fluekiger, started with the Corps in the 1990s as a summer-hire while in college and worked his way up to Head Lock and Dam Operator at Lower St. Anthony Falls. Terrance’s twin brother, Christopher, worked at Lock and Dam No. 5 as a summer-hire. Terrance’s nephew, Jordon Fluekiger, works on the Dredge Goetz three-vessel fleet.

Clarence I. “Tommy” Thompson
Second Master of the U.S. Dredge Thompson
1943-1956
Capt. Clarence I. Thompson (1894-1961), no relation to William Thompson for which the dredge was named, worked 38 years for the district. A native of La Crosse, Wisconsin, he was hired by the Corps of Engineers for dam building in 1915. The next year, he became a steersman aboard the U.S. Alert but took a two-year break in 1917-18 to join the Army during World War I. In 1920, he became a steersman aboard the U.S. Ellen and assisted in the building of wing dams. In 1927, he obtained his pilot’s license and became master of the U.S. General Allen. While on the Allen, he took then Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley and several high Corps of Engineers officials on a tour of the river from the Twin Cities to St. Louis, shortly before work on the locks and dams and 9-foot channel began. In 1941, he moved to the U.S. Dredge Thompson, where he served as pilot two years before becoming master.
Clarence I. "Tommy" Thompson

David R. Peck
Seventh Master of the U.S. Dredge Thompson
1991-2001
Capt. David R. Peck (c1953-2001) began working for the St. Paul District in 1970 as a deckhand on the U.S. Dredge Hauser and later transferred to the U.S. Dredge Thompson. Outside of the navigation season, he worked for the district’s maintenance and repair unit, performing lock rehabilitation and other preventative maintenance work. He advanced to the position of sandblasting and painting leader, performing this function for several winters at the Fountain City Service Base in Fountain City, Wisconsin. After years as a boat operator, Peck advanced to the position of leverman with responsibility for operation of the dredge. He became master in 1990 at the age of 38 until his untimely death in 2001. The entire crew of the Thompson served as pallbearers at his memorial service. The U.S Crewboat David R. Peck is named in his honor.

Harold H. Heule
Fifth Master of the U.S. Dredge William A. Thompson
1977-1980
Capt. Harold Heule (1919-1996) of Keokuk, Iowa, began working for the St. Paul District in 1967 as a pilot on the U.S. Dredge Thompson, serving as its master from 1968 to 1977. Prior, he piloted towboats on the Ohio, Mississippi, and other rivers for 27 years. Heule was known for being safety conscious and a history advocate. In 1961, while piloting on the Ohio River, he discovered the paddleboat George M. Verity at Huntington, West Virginia, was headed for the scrapyard. The Verity, originally christened the Samuel S. Thorpe, had been constructed in Dubuque, Iowa, for the Inland Waterways Corporation, an arm of the U.S. Government. Fiedler was involved in rescuing the steamboat, and the Verity is now a river museum in Keokuk.

Robert Gross
Second Master of the Dredge Goetz
2009-2015
Capt. Robert Gross (1949-- ) started working for the St. Paul District in 1985 as a deckhand and worked his way up to master of the U.S. Dredge Goetz in 2009, holding this position until his retirement in 2015. Prior to working for the district, he served in the Army and is a Vietnam War veteran. He said the most challenging part of his career was the piloting of the dredge around locks, railroads and other obstructions. The most memorable part of his career, he said, included the christening ceremonies of the Goetz in 2005 and the U.S. General Warren in 2009. Gross is a long-time resident of Alma, Wisconsin, having moved there when he was 3 years old. He was elected mayor of Alma in 2022.

Vernon G. Gunderson
Sixth Master of the U.S. Dredge Thompson
1980-1991
Capt. Vernon G. Gunderson (c1934-2012), a Fountain City, Wisconsin, native, began his career with the Corps as a deckhand on the U.S. Dredge Thompson in 1952 and worked his way up through the ranks. For 23 years of his 39-year career with the St. Paul District, he held the two highest positions on the Thompson, as master and chief engineer. In response to environmental concerns for dredged material placement, Gunderson directed major plant improvements and facilitated significant operational changes that both improved cost effectiveness and were more environmentally friendly. He was recognized nationally as the Corps leading expert on cutterhead dredging equipment and operations. He was a 1982 Civil Servant of the Year recipient and was inducted into the District’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

William Henning
First Master of the U.S. Dredge Thompson
1937-1943
Capt. William Henning (1874-1968), a Fountain City, Wisconsin, native, began his career at age 15 as a deckhand and fireman on the packet Robert Harris. He received his pilot’s license in 1895 and his master’s license in 1905. The Corps of Engineers hired him as a temporary employee in 1902 and then as a permanent employee in 1905. He ended up working for the district for 50 years, retiring in 1955. In his 38 years with the Corps, William was master and pilot of the following U.S. steamers and dredges: Ada, Ellen, Cool Blu, Minneapolis, Alert, Fury, Clyde, General Allen and William Thompson. He was recognized for his energetic work in improving and developing waterway transportation and was inducted into the District’s Hall of Fame in 1954. Upon his retirement, the La Crosse Tribune wrote, “He is known and admired up and down the river as much for the simplicity and integrity of his character as for his unfailing efficiency and conscientious attention to duty.”

William Henning