The casket containing the remains of Capt. Richard D. Chorlins killed in Vietnam War being laid to rest at the Academy Cemetery 45 years after his death on April 14, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Liz Copan)
By World News Report Bureau
Here is the most outstanding story of a Vietnam War hero – who continued to create strange records even 45 years after his death. Officially promoted a day after his death, he was for all practical purposes ‘missing in action’. Even though his remains remained identified for full one decade, his name was put up on various war memorials.
Capt. Richard D. Chorlins
Chorlins’ name appears on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. (Panel 14W, line 25). And on the US Air Force Academy’s War Memorial on the Terrazzo.
Each year, an Outstanding Cadet in Behavioral Sciences and Leadership Award is presented in memory of Captain Chorlins at the US Air Force Academy.
Capt. Richard D. Chorlins participated in the Vietnam War in the 70s. Then a 1st Lt. he was assigned to the 602nd Special Operations Squadron at Nakhon Phanom, Thailand. On Jan. 11, his A-1H Skyraider a night mission over the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos was hit by ground fire and crashed into a mountain.
Chorlins was officially declared dead on Jan. 13 but still promoted posthumously to Capt on Jan. 14. His remains remained untraced and could only reach the U.S. in 2003. These remained unidentified until 2013.
Finally 45 years after he gave his life serving his country he was laid to rest at the Cadet Chapel.
Chorlins, a resident of University City, Missouri, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s degree in economics.
“Rick was intelligent, he didn’t have to study as hard… He studied for about an hour or so of studying each night while the rest of us burned the midnight oil,” said Col. Alex Archibald (Retd) one of Chorlins’ classmates.
Chorlins roommate, Col. Dick Tebay (Retd) recalls how he and Chorlins kept a hamster in their room against regulations and called him Reep because of the noise he made. According to him, Chorlins had a sharp sense of humor.
“During one of our Saturday morning inspections, we were standing at attention, Reep got out of the laundry bin and proudly announced his presence to our air officer commanding.”
“Rick and I marched a few hours with rifles on the Terrazzo. Every time Rick and I passed each other, rodent communication occurred”, Tebay said
Chorlins was present in Tebay’s wedding.
“He was a groomsman at my wedding in Sioux City in 1967,” Tebay said.
“As I was getting into my dress uniform just before the wedding, I noticed he had written something in black magic marker on the soles of my shoes. ‘Help’ was there for all to see when Jeannie and I would be kneeling at the altar.”
After graduation from the Academy, Chorlins earned a master’s degree in economics at Georgetown University, Washington D.C. He was one of the five cadets in a cooperative program between the Academy and Georgetown. Chorlins met his wife Nancy while attending Georgetown.
From Georgetown, Chorlins reported to Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, for undergraduate pilot training. His next training stop was Hurlburt Field, Florida, for follow-on training in the A-1 and then Southeast Asia.
Chorlins was interested in returning to the Academy as a faculty instructor after the Vietnam War, but this is one wish of this that remained unfulfilled.
He was accounted for Jan. 17, 2015 and buried with full military honors