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Larry Ulm

Larry Ulm

  • Service Branch: United States Army
  • Service Dates: 1969–1973
  • Stationed: Vietnam, Fort Meade
  • Rank: Chief Warrant Officer

Larry had attended Emory Riddle University in Daytona, Florida, in the 60’s. He became a licensed commercial pilot and earned a degree in Aeronautical Science.
Volunteering for the Army, he was accepted for fixed-wing aircraft training knowing he would be sent to Vietnam. He went to Fort Polk in Louisiana for basic training. This was followed by flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and multi-engine school at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He was also sent to Fort Devens in Massachusetts for advanced warfare electronics training. In the Fall of 1969, at the end of his training, Larry was commissioned a Warrant Officer and received orders to report to Vietnam. “As we were waiting to leave for Vietnam, we got word that a classmate had been killed in combat in Vietnam,” Larry said.
Larry felt that Vietnam was the hottest and most humid place he’d ever been. Arriving at his quarters there was a man outside with a rifle shooting rats. “Our quarters were similar to Quonset huts,” said Larry. “Marines had lived there before us and the place was trashed by the time we got there. Our supply officer was a green beret. If he couldn’t find the things we needed, he’d steal them from other outfits.” Larry explained that their quarters were fired upon at least once each month. “When this happened, it was unnerving.
I was scared to death the whole time I was in Vietnam. I remembered what an old senior sergeant had told me years ago and it comforted me through Vietnam and stays with me even today, He said, ‘If you believe you’re going to die, you’re going to die, but if you believe you’re going to live, you’re going to live.’
There was very little to do during leisure time, there was a lot of drinking. “A good drink cost 35 cents at the Officers Club,” Larry said. “A lot of the troops had trouble with alcohol, there was nothing else to do.”
Larry flew RU8D twin-engine planes. Three men made up the crew. Two men flew the plane while the third man operated electronic equipment. The crew flew reconnaissance missions and reported the location of the enemy. “We could pinpoint the enemy’s position within 10 feet. Troops, or bombers, would follow up based on our findings,” Larry explained. “One night we were flying in the company of another plane. We were within five miles of each other. Suddenly, the other plane disappeared. Five guys were on board. The plane was never found.”

During the year Larry served in Vietnam, he flew 800 hours of direct combat missions. He was awarded 16 air medals, including the Bronze Star and the Vietnam Cross for gallantry with palm, and others. At the end of his time there, he was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer. “I flew home on a commercial airliner and had on my uniform,” Larry said. “As I was leaving the airplane a man spit on me and referred to me as a baby killer. If you met another man who had served in Vietnam, you didn’t talk about it. You merely said, ‘Welcome home, brother.’ Larry considers himself extremely fortunate to have survived. “Twenty percent of our flight school class was killed,” he said. “That includes two that committed suicide.” Back in the U.S. aJl:er his year-long tour in Vietnam, Larry was assigned to a VIP detachment at Fort Meade. He flew two and three-star Generals and their staff all over the U.S. “One of the 2-star Generals took a liking to me, and arranged for me to be lodged in the general officer’s suite when he flew with me.” Larry was offered a chance to attend flight school for Chinook helicopters. “I went home and told my wife,” Larry said. “After a brief discussion, I decided to leave the Army when my time was up.”
Larry was honorably discharged from theArmy in February 1973. He moved to Seattle and helped build a family sailboat dealership. Eventually, the dealership purchased a marina and became one of the largest sailboat dealers in the U.S.
After sixteen years in marina and sailboat sales, the business was sold. Larry returned to flying full-time. He flew for United Express for the next sixteen years until his retirement.
He and Beth moved to Londonderry in 2021.

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