Glen Hesler

Friday, August 24, 2012

Glen Hesler was born to Walter and Fern Hesler in Hutchinson, Kan., on May 17, 1922.

He died Aug. 3, 2012.

Among his achievements as a youth, he claimed the Kansas High School Wrestling State Championship in 1940, representing the Hutchinson High School Salt Hawks.

Fresh out of high school, he began a career in construction and worked for Chalmers & Borden, building the giant grain elevators that dot the great plains of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

He was often the site superintendent, even though he was only 19 at the time.

On May 2, 1941, he married Edna Lucille Morris.

Less than a year later, the country was in the thick of WWII and he was training as an Army Air Corps fighter pilot. Assigned to the Pacific Theater, he became a member of the legendary "Flying Tigers," flying combat missions against Japanese forces in China. He was shot down on one such mission, but he evaded capture and certain execution by walking for 33 days with virtually no food to make his way a good 500 miles back to his unit with the help of Chinese partisans.

After the war, Glen returned to construction as a civilian but was registered with the reserves and was called back into service in 1952 to train pilots for the Korean conflict.

Next, he flew B-47s with the Strategic Air Command during the Cold War and finished his military career flying C-130s and then as a B-52 squadron commander in Vietnam.

After retirement, he built a very full second career as a flight instructor and examiner in southern California.

He "hung up his wings" in 2003 at age 81, after being in the air for 3 years (of flight time).

Glen's military decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart, the Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service, and nine others.

Glen was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Ernest, his loving wife, and one son, Gary.

He is survived by his son, Roger, from Mountain Home, his son-in-law and daughter, Butch and Nancy Ryder, two grandchildren, and three great-grandsons, plus many nieces and nephews and more wonderful friends than there are stars in the sky.

Col. Hesler will be buried at Arlington Cemetery in September.