Larry Duthie KIA ’67
Larry Duthie is a long-time friend from college/fraternity days at Arizona State University in the early 60’s. I recently discovered him alive and well after spending the past 40 years believing him shot down and KIA. Fortunately, the KIA part was incorrect!
I found Chuck Walling on The Wall, but I couldn’t find my pal Larry Dutie. He was shot down and KIA in ’67 flying an A-4 Skyhawk off the carrier Oriskany. In fact, John McCain joined Larry’s sister squadron just a week after Larry was shot down. Then, as we know, McCain was shot down and ended up POW.
Duthie and I along with several other ATΩ brothers joined the Navy’s short- lived Naviator Program. Larry ended up in Attack Squadron 163 and we lost touch shortly before his deployment. Chuck Walling was an Air Force F-4 “Phantom” pilot. His remains were recently recovered.
Just a few years ago I received a interesting e-mail about a Major Glenn York who had flown some very heroic rescue missions in a CH-53 during our SE Asia War Games… York’s story was fascinating, but it was the photos at the bottom of the e-mail that were astounding! There was a couple of pictures of my buddy Larry Duthie sitting in York’s helicopter all smiles having been rescued.
HOLY SMOKE! Dooth wasn’t dead after all! I set to work tying to locate him. There was a Larry Duthie, publisher, in Walla Walla, WA. I called and asked to speak with him. He answered and I asked “are you the Larry Duthie who went to Arizona State University?” He admitted this and asked who I was. I said “Billy Walker and you’re dead!”
Ol’ Dooth tried to debate my accusation that he was dead. “…then get your sorry ass out here and prove to us otherwise!” He did. Dooth and his lovely wife Roz came out and you can imagine the party! It was a wonderful reunion. Later, Cheryl and I would travel to Walla Walla and do some more catching up which we did last summer.
All but a couple of us had thought Duth had been KIA for over 40 years! ATΩ Frank Conn knew. However, Frank had moved to Atlanta and was off our radar. Of course none of us had tried to contact Duthie and we didn’t know his family since he was from California and most of the other’s hailed from here in The Salt River Valley.
On that fateful day in 1967, Duthie had been trying to protect his flight lead who had been shot down. The same 37mm gun got Duthie as well. Warning lights and bells along with fire told ol’ Dooth he was in trouble.
Screaming thru the skies over North Vietnam Dooth ejected at over 500mph! This caused a big problem as A-4 doesn’t have leg restraints. One of Duthie’s legs was caught in the violent slip-stream and torn-up badly, but he made it down OK. Hunted by the enemy, he evaded for over 4 hours. Duthie was nearly rescued by a Navy SAR helicopter. Suddenly the helicopter was taking serious damage and door gunner was killed. So, the Navy SAR left the scene. Duthie was all alone. Shortly, he would be as dead as his flight leader (killed by angry enemy civilians) or would become a POW.
Fortunately for Duthie, USAF Maj. York was on channel and he succeeded where the Navy guys didn’t. Duthie was then air-lifted to hospital after hospital for a year or so. When he was finally rehab’d to flight status he then tried making contact with some of us. We were all young bachelors then and had blown to the four winds. Life went on and Duthie stayed dead in our minds until the serendipitous e-mail about his rescuer arrived.
Duthie looks pretty good for a guy “dead” for 40 years!
Above Dooth 2016 at the “Lady Jessie” dedication.
More on Lady Jessie to follow….
They had to carry Duthie and prop him up for the photo above… It doesn’t show, but the CH-53 “Jolly Green” helicopter was shot-up badly. Note how it is squatting on the nose gear…
Below – the reunion last year…
Dooth in ’67 goin’ to war flyin’ the ubiquitous Douglas A-4 “Skyhawk”
Below: Dooth’s grandmother. He came by his aviation urge honestly. The Ercoupe was her airplane.
Billy & Cheryl visiting Dooth and Roz at their farm and winery near Walla Walla, Washington.
Roz – Billy & Cheryl Billy & Dooth at his resurrection
Blue Skies & Tailwinds…