American Veteran 04

Tech. Sgt. Philip W. "Phil" Sulko, USAF, Ret.

November 10, 1944 ~ December 19, 2021 (age 77)

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Tech. Sgt. Philip Warren Sulko, USAF, Ret. passed away peacefully at home at the age of 77 on December 19, 2021 in the company of his family and under the care of Hope Hospice. 

Funeral services for Philip Warren Sulko will be held on Wednesday, December 22 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Stetsonville.  Visitation will be from 9:00am until the funeral Mass at 11:00am with Father Michael Hayden officiating.  Burial with military honors provided by the U.S. Air Force and the Medford Area Military Honors Team will follow at Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery.  Pallbearers will be Phil’s nephews.

He was born in Chicago to Rudolph O. Sulko and Veronica A (Adams) Sulko November 10, 1944.  In 1945 the family moved to rural Ogema to a house which Rudy and his brother built for Phil’s grandmother.   Phil attended Sunnyside Grade School, a one-room school thru 7th grade, and 8th grade at Ogema Grade School, and was a 1962 graduate of Prentice High School.  One of the highlights of high school was a class trip to New York City and Washington DC. 

Phil had a great love for airplanes and flying.  After high school he attended Blackhawk Tech in Janesville for airframe and powerplant courses.  In 1963, he joined the Air Force.  After schooling in Texas, he was assigned to Cannon Air Force Base, NM as a helicopter flight mechanic/engineer.  From 1965-1966 he spent 13 months in sunny SE Asia at Udorn and Nakon Phanom, Thailand, from which they flew rescue and recovery missions over Thailand, Laos and North & South Vietnam.  He was then at Duluth Air Force Base until discharge 1967.

Following his service, Phil moved to the Medford area.  He met his future wife Karen at Tombstone Tap, with one special date being watching in the back room of Tombstone Tap the famous Ice Bowl when the Packers beat the Cowboys.  On September 7, 1968 Phil married Karen Schneider at Holy Rosary Church in Medford.  They moved to West Allis, but after 9 months of “city living” they moved back to Medford.

The call of airplanes brought Phil back into the Air Force in 1971, moving to Utah and rescue helicopters at Hill AF Base.  In April 1972, Phil was assigned to Hahn AF Base, Germany for 4 years, where Phil & Karen lived in the little town of Sohren.  Their daughter Carrie Ann was born there in June 1972.  They traveled to 13 countries, including Finland to meet family.  Phil & Karen learned to play golf on Hitler’s cow pasture in Berchtesgaden, Germany.  They moved to Clovis, NM for a year, and then Edwards AFB, CA, living in Lancaster.  His helicopter detachment supported testing of the original Space Shuttle program.  In 1981 Phil was assigned to Kirtland AFB, NM where he flew and taught helicopter flight engineer classes for five years, and where he got into hot air ballooning.  In 1984 Phil bought his first balloon, The Fat Chance, which he and Carrie Ann flew almost every weekend on Albuquerque’s West Mesa, and each year at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, as well as being an officer of the local balloon club.  In 1986 Phil was assigned to Indian Springs, NV where he finished his final year in the Air Force near the famous Area 51.

In 1987, Phil returned to Medford, where Karen & Carrie Ann had moved the previous year and built their home.

Phil worked at the elementary school and then at Taylor County Airport as assistant manager and later as manager.  After moving back to Wisconsin, Phil continued to fly each year at Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, in addition to flying around Medford and at many Wisconsin balloon rallies. 

After retirement, Phil & Karen enjoyed traveling, including Alaskan cruises and two fishing trips to Ketchikan, three weeks in Europe, as well as a Baltic Sea cruise including St Petersburg, Russia.  He also loved NASCAR and enjoyed many trips to Talladega and one to Charlotte, and was a Packers season ticket holder at Lambeau Field.

Survivors include Phil’s wife of 53 years, Karen, daughter Carrie Ann Freas (Matthew Carter) of Texas, granddaughter Britni (Jacob) Hainzlsperger of Medford and grandson Tyler Freas of MN, sister Diane (Martin) Heier of Medford, brother Duane Sulko of Florida, and sisters-in-law Barbara (Jerry) Schreiner and Jean (Ben) Egle of Medford, plus many nieces and nephews and other family, and many, many friends.

Phil was preceded in death by his parents Rudy & Vera Sulko, and parents-in-law Roland & Amelia Schneider.

Donations may be given to the family for future designation.

Hemer-Pickerign Funeral & Cremation Services of Medford and Rib Lake is serving the family. Online condolences can be left at


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December 22, 2021

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
322 W E County Rd A
Stetsonville, WI 54480

Funeral Mass
December 22, 2021

11:00 AM
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
322 W E County Rd A
Stetsonville, WI 54480

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