Maj. Larry J. Hanley was born Feb. 13, 1943, in Spokane and raised in Walla Walla.
A graduate of Walla Walla High School, he was a member of the school’s Army Junior ROTC program. He went on to attend the University of Washington and Central Washington State College, where he became a member of the Air Force ROTC. He graduated in 1966 and was subsequently commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.
After graduation from flight school, Hanley received his wings on Oct. 17, 1967, at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas. He trained in the F-4 Phantom at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., and in 1968, promoted to captain, he was assigned to the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing’s 435 Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon Air Base in Thailand.
Hanley flew 119 combat missions over Vietnam before returning to the United States. He was then assigned to train in the F-105D Thunderchief at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kan. In August 1969 he volunteered to return to combat in Vietnam and was assigned to the 355th TFW/357th TFS at Takhli Air Base in Thailand. When asked by his family why he was volunteering to return to the war zone, his reply was he was going back so some married man would not have to go.
While on a mission to North Vietnam on Nov. 4, 1969, Hanley’s jet was shot down over Laos. He was listed as missing in action until Feb. 6, 1979, at which time the Air Force changed his status to presumed killed in action. In June 1978 he was posthumously promoted to the rank of major.
Hanley’s remains were positively identified in March 2013 by investigators with the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office. He will be buried with full military honors this summer in Walla Walla.
(Sources: I.P. “Sarge” Memorial VFW Post 3377, Manchaca, Texas, and Department of Defense, Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.)