House Engrossed


Larry "Lucky" Chesley; death resolution





State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Fifty-fifth Legislature

First Regular Session











on the death of the honorable larry "lucky" chesley.





Lieutenant Colonel Larry "Lucky" Chesley passed away peacefully on May 2, 2021 at the age of eighty-two after a courageous fight with pancreatic cancer.

Born on September 27, 1938, Lucky grew up in Burley, Idaho and graduated from Burley High School in 1956. Called to service, he enlisted in the United States Air Force on June 19, 1956, where he was trained as a teletype and crypto operator. He served in Japan and West Germany before receiving an honorable discharge on June 14, 1960.  Lucky remained in reserve status while completing college at Weber State College in Ogden, Utah, where he completed a four-year course of study in fewer than three years, graduating with honors with a bachelor's degree in history and political science.

Lucky entered Air Force officer training school in November 1963.  He completed undergraduate pilot training, graduating as a distinguished military graduate and as the outstanding pilot of his class, and was awarded his pilot wings in 1965.  He then completed F-4 Phantom II combat crew training and began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia with the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Ubon AB, Thailand in December 1965.

On April 16, 1966, Lucky's aircraft was shot down on his seventy-sixth mission over North Vietnam.  He broke three vertebrae while ejecting and was soon taken as a prisoner of war.  Nicknamed "Lucky" during his seven years as a prisoner in Hanoi, he said his faith, family, country and fellow prisoners sustained him.  He was released during Operation Homecoming in 1973, weighing only 100 pounds.  Lucky received dozens of military awards and decorations, including two Silver Stars for Gallantry, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star for Valor, two Purple Hearts, five Air Medals, two Outstanding Unit Awards and two Air Force Commendation Medals.  His first Silver Star citation reads, in part, "[his] courageous act, attempted in the face of devastating fire at minimum altitude and great personal risk, epitomized the finest qualities of a true combat pilot. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Lieutenant Chesley has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."

After his hospitalization, Lucky moved to Arizona to serve as an instructor pilot at Williams Air Force Base.  He received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to Arizona State University where he earned a master's degree in business administration.  He also authored a book, "Seven Years in Hanoi," which was published in 1973, and completed a tour as an instructor at ASU's Air Force ROTC program.  Additionally, he completed Air Command and Staff College in June 1977 and Air War College in June 1978.  His final military assignment was as the liaison to the Arizona Wing of Civil Air Patrol.  He retired from the Air Force on January 1, 1982, but taught for several colleges and universities after retirement.

Further called to service, Lucky ran for public office several times, serving as an Arizona state senator from 1993 to 1997.  He went on to serve as a research analyst for the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2003 and later as the legislative liaison for the Arizona State Treasurer.  Known for his vibrant sense of humor and admirable trustworthiness, Lucky gained the well-deserved reputation as someone who understood the issues that concerned Arizona's citizens and worked tirelessly to overcome them.

Despite the demands of his public service, Lucky gave selflessly of his time, energy and abilities to various charitable endeavors, including serving as a Boy Scout leader and volunteer in the prison ministry.  He and his wife also faithfully served four missions for their church in their retirement.  Lucky distinguished himself as a reliable, competent and diligent individual, and he was admired by all who knew and worked with him.

Lucky is preceded in death by Annette and Martin Chesley.  A loving, encouraging and dedicated husband and father, he is survived by his wife of forty years, Judith, his children, Debbie, Don, Kevin, Philip, Clark, Nancy, Susie, Nikki and Travis, his twenty-nine grandchildren and his fourteen great-grandchildren.


Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona:

That the Members of the House of Representatives express their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the Honorable Lieutenant Colonel Larry "Lucky" Chesley.