Larry Chesley was born in 1938 in Burley, Idaho. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on June 19, 1956, and was trained as a teletype and crypto operator. Chesley served two years at Shiro AFB, Japan, with the 6901st Security Wing, and almost two years with the 6900th Security Wing at Frankfurt, West Germany, before receiving an honorable discharge on June 14, 1960. He remained in Reserve status while he completed college and he entered Air Force Officer Training School in November 1963. After receiving his commission, on February 4, 1964, Lt Chesley entered Undergraduate Pilot Training, and was awarded his pilot wings at Webb AFB, Texas, in March 1965. He next completed F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training, and began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon AB, Thailand, in December 1965. On April 16, 1966, Chesley was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,495 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. After hospitalization, Col Chesley received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to Arizona State University and earned an MBA, followed by a tour as an instructor at the University's Air Force ROTC program. Chesley returned to flying status in 1977 and became a flight instructor at Williams AFB, Arizona. During this time, he completed Air Command and Staff College in June 1977 and Air War College in June 1978. His final assignment was as Liaison to the Arizona Wing of Civil Air Patrol. Col Chesley retired from the Air Force on January 1, 1982. He authored a book, "Seven Years in Hanoi", which was published in 1973, and taught for several colleges and universities after he retired from the Air Force. Larry served as a State Senator in Arizona from 1993 to 1997. He and his wife Judy have raised nine children and they have 29 grandchildren.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Larry J. Chesley distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 16 April 1966. On that date, Lieutenant Chesley led a flight of two F-4C Fighter-Bombers on a twilight armed recce mission against a heavily defended target deep within hostile territory. Locating the target despite restricted visibility due to haze and terrain, Lieutenant Chesley encountered a curtain of flak as he rolled in for his first strike. Immediately altering his attack, although at a dangerously low altitude, he turned into the very teeth of fire from the menacing guns and continued to press the attack until his aircraft sustained mortal damage, forcing him to eject. This courageous act, attempted in the face of devastating fire at minimum altitude and great personal risk, epitomized the finest qualities of a true combat pilot. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Chesley has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.