David Hrdlicka was born on December 30, 1931, in Stewartville, Minnesota. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on February 10, 1951, and after completing basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, aerial gunnery training at Lowry AFB, Colorado, and B-29 Superfortress Combat Crew Training at Randolph AFB, Texas, he served as a B-29 and B-36 Peacemaker gunner with the 24th Bomb Squadron of the 6th Bomb Wing at Walker AFB, New Mexico, from March 1952 to August 1954. Sgt Hrdlicka then served as a B-36 gunner with the 40th Bomb Squadron of the 6th Bomb Group at Walker from August 1954 until he received an honorable discharge on February 9, 1955. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Air Force on July 14, 1955, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Laughlin AFB, Texas, on October 30, 1956. After completing F-84 Thunderstreak Combat Crew Training and gunnery training, Lt Hrdlicka served as an F-100 Super Sabre pilot with the 1st Fighter Day Squadron at George AFB, California, from June 1957 to March 1958, and then with the 34th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George from March 1958 to March 1959. His next assignment was as an F-100 pilot with the 308th Tactical Fighter Squadron at George AFB from March 1959 to September 1960, followed by service as an F-101 Voodoo pilot with the 91st Tactical Fighter Squadron at RAF Bentwaters, England, from September 1960 to January 1962. Capt Hrdlicka served as Flying Training Officer for the 81st Support Group at RAF Bentwaters from January 1962 to October 1963, and then as an F-100 and F-105 Thunderchief pilot with the 563rd Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 23rd Tactical Fighter Wing at McConnell AFB, Kansas, from October 1963 until he was forced to eject over Laos while deployed to Southeast Asia on May 18, 1965. Capt Hrdlicka was captured and believed to be held in Laos for several years, but when he was not released at the end of the war, his official status was changed to Died While Captured on November 21, 1977, having been promoted through the ranks to Colonel during the time he was missing.
His Air Medal Citation reads:
Captain David L. Hrdlicka distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as an F-105 Pilot in Southeast Asia on 18 May 1965. On that date, Captain Hrdlicka's aircraft was struck by ground fire during a bomb run. Through his courage, ability and devotion to duty, Captain Hrdlicka was able to successfully deliver his ordnance on the target before abandoning his aircraft. The professional skill and airmanship displayed by Captain Hrdlicka reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.