Dick Mullen was born on February 12, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Navy on February 18, 1953, and was commissioned an Ensign and designated a Naval Aviator on September 7, 1954. His first assignment was as an F9F-2 Panther pilot with VF-123 at NAS Miramar, California, from September 1954 to November 1955, and then as an F7U-3M Cutlass pilot with VA-116 at NAS Miramar from November 1955 to April 1956. LtJg Mullen was briefly hospitalized after an aircraft accident where the nose gear on his F7U collapsed from April to September 1956, and then served as an F4D-1 Skyray pilot with VF-141 from September 1956 to December 1957. Lt Mullen's next assignment was as a Flight Commander with the Fleet Air Gunnery Unit at NAS El Centro, California, and then at MCAS Yuma, Arizona, from December 1957 to March 1960, followed by service as an F4D-1 pilot with VFAW-3 at NAS North Island, California, from March 1960 to March 1963. He served on the staff of the Commander in Chief of U.S. Pacific Command at Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii, from March 1963 to July 1965, and he then attended F-8 Crusader Replacement Air Group training with VF-124 at NAS Miramar from August 1965 to January 1966. LCDR Mullen's next assignment was as an F-8 pilot and Operations Officer with VF-191 at NAS Miramar and deployed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) from January 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on January 6, 1967. After spending 2,250 days in captivity, CDR Mullen was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized at the Naval Hospital in San Diego, California, and then received an assignment to the University of California at San Diego to complete his bachelor's degree from September 1973 to August 1975. Capt Mullen's final assignment was as Aviation Safety Officer with the Chief of Naval Air Training at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas, from September 1975 until his retirement from the Navy on November 1, 1978. Dick married Jean Riggins on September 15, 1956, and they remained together until her death on September 2, 1998. He married Peggy Welch on June 18, 2000. Dick Mullen died on September 18, 2015.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from January to February 1968. His captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.