CHESLEY, LARRY JAMES Name: Larry James Chesley Rank/Branch: O2/United States Air Force Unit: 433rd TFS Date of Birth: 27 September 1938 Home City of Record: Burleu ID Date of Loss: 16 APRIL 1966 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 173500N 1061700E Status (in 1973): Returnee Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: F4C Missions: 76 Other Personnel in Incident: Samuel Johnson, returnee, pilot Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 06 September 1996 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. REMARKS: 021273 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors). UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO LARRY J. CHESLEY Captain- United States Air Force Shot Down: April 16, 1966 Released: February 12, 1973 Others in Incident: Samuel Johnson, Returnee I was born on September 27, 1938 to Verl R. Chesley and Susie Baugh Chesley. I was the first of three sons and was born and raised in Burley, Idaho. I graduated from Burley High School in May 1956. My early days (summers) were spent on a farm with my grandparents in Arco, Idaho where I rode race horses. I worked while I attended Junior high and high school. Upon graduating I joined the Air Force. I first went to Parks AFB California, F. E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, Scott Field, Illinois. Then in March 1957 I went to Shiroi AFB, Japan for two years. From Shiroi I went to Frankfort, Germany where I stayed until 1960. Though I was an enlisted man I saw most of Europe while I was stationed in Germany. In June 1960 I was discharged and enrolled at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah in September. October 1960 I married JoDene Neilson and we had a daughter Debbie, born August 1961. I finished college with a BS in History and Political Science in less than three years. I worked full time for Boling (Minute Man Missile) at Hill AFB in Ogden. I graduated from college with honors. After graduation I decided to go back into the Air Force so I went to OTS and graduated as a Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG). My son, Don, was born in December 1963 while I was at OTS. I went to Webb AFB, Texas for UPT and from there to Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona for combat crew training. I graduated as the outstanding pilot of our class. I met Jim Elliot there; he became my AC. We went to Eglin AFB, Florida for two months. Jim was drafted to go to Southeast Asia, so I volunteered to go also - with my wife's blessing. Jim and I went to Ubon, Thailand with a squadron from George AFB, California. We arrived 16 December 1966. Four months and 76 missions later on 16 April 1966 I was shot down. Major Sam Johnson and I were on a "milk run" mission about 30 miles north of the DMZ. This started my long stay in North Vietnam-almost seven years. I was sick much of the time during those seven years. My illness was caused by my bout with beri beri from December 1966 to April 1967 which left me in such a weakened condition that I caught everything that came along. I lost approximately 60 pounds, leaving me weighing only 100 pounds. While in prison, I received news that my wife had remarried. Because I had not been allowed to write for four years, neither my wife nor my family knew I was alive. I received my first letter four and a half years after my shoot down. Though I was tortured, beaten, and generally mistreated, I was not treated as harshly as some of the others. I am a Mormon and I believe deeply in my religion. It was one of the strengths I clung to during those dark days. I believe in a God who is like a Father, One who cares about His children. I had a patriarchal blessing when I was young (about 14) and it said that if I were ever called into war that no matter what would come or what would go, I would be returned to my loved ones. So I never doubted for a moment. I knew that I would come home someday. My homecoming was wonderful. My little city really treated me great. Though Burley has only a population of 8000, over 30,000 from throughout the valley came to say "Welcome home Captain Chesley." One newsman from Salt Lake City said on television that, in his eighteen years of news coverage, he had never seen such a moving expression of love as the love my city had shown to me. The General from Boise also said that in his 26 years of military service he had never seen such honor bestowed upon a service man. I am attending college at Arizona State University to get a master's degree in Business Administration. Then I will teach AFROTC there while I work for a law degree or Ph.D.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Captain Chesley has written a book which tells of his experiences in more detail. It is titled: SEVEN YEARS IN HANOI. ====================== Larry Chesley retired from the United States Air Force as a Lt. Colonel. He and his wife Judy reside in Arizona. ======================