Larry S. Tyler
U. S. Army
Dates of Service: 12/27/1965 - 09/02/1969
Avionics repairman, Company A, Fifth Trans Bn, 101st Airborne Div
Audio Samples

A resident of Longview, Texas, Tyler was born in Logansport, Louisiana to Ernest Howard and Johnnie Maude Tyler as the fourth of six children. His parents came from large families, too. "He was one of eight. My mother was one of twelve. So I had plenty of aunts and uncles," he remarks. None, he knew, had military service, including his father who was exempted because of his work as a farmer. The family lived so far out in the country, that Larry's round-trip bus ride between hooe and school was an hour each way. In high school he lettered in all sports. He worked at Avergette's Auto, then Ben's Radio and TV and Sharp's Radio and TV Service. Nicknamed "Einstein" and "Brain", Larry graduated from Logansport High School in 1962 as valedictorian and entered Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, Texas, where his mother taught as an English professor. "So we all kind of moved as a family from Logansport to Nacogdoches," he says. Larry worked in the school cafeteria, delivered pizza, and in summers sold Bibles "door-to-door". Floundering in college, he accepted an invitation from his oldest brother to live with him in California where he was attending the University of California, Berkeley. There Larry was working at a Rexall drugstore near campus, where he watched the growth of the radical movement, in which his brother took an active role. "While I was finding myself in faith, he became enamored of radical leftist ideas," he says. In November 1965 he received his draft notice. "As I look back on it, there was a part of me that said, `Hmmm, there's a war going on. It's an honorable war against the terrible opponents and I really should go'," he recalls. Other family members were against the Vietnam War; some of his brothers received conscientious objector status. One sister, however, a medical technologist, went in as a first lieutenant. Larry enlisted with a guarantee of a tour in Germany. He was engaged when he left for basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. After basic at Fort Gordon, Georgia, Larry entered a six-month avionics schools to learn to repair Army aircraft. He graduated first in his class. Meanwhile, he recalls he "hated (military life) with a deep and abiding passion." Sent to Germany and to Armstrong Kaserne, a post near Budingen, he was assigned to a position far from his MOS: stringing wire with a signal battalion. His financial records were misplaced, and for the first seven months he received no official pay. He was assigned to Delta Troup, 3rd Squadron, 12th Cavalry, 3rd Armored Division. Meanwhile, he took leave to the States to marry Donna Talley on February 9, 1967. (They would have two children, Brian and Joshua, and two grandchildren.) Donna completed her college degree, then joined Larry briefly in Germany. Soon, however, he received orders for Vietnam, where he arrived on 2 September 1968, his first wedding anniversary. From a replacement battalion, he received orders to the 101st Airborne Division and was sent to Phu Bai where he became a platoon sergeant of Alpha Company, 5th Transportation Battalion and stationed at Camp Eagle. He was soon promoted to staff sergeant. Meanwhile, he attended chapel regularly, occasionally leading worship if the chaplain did not show. Soon, he became the company's chaplain (in addition to his other duties). He describes his chaplaincy as "a role which I relished." His unit's main mission involved repairing helicopters. Larry joined Donna on his R&R in Hawaii. He would complete his tour in Vietnam and depart for the States on his second wedding anniversary, September 2, 1969. Donna was working in Houston, so he continued his education at the University of Houston. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology, completed Presbyterian seminary in Austin, and secured his first pastorate in Victoria, Texas. After 18 months he was called to a church in Crockett, Texas. Larry re-entered the army in 1982. He was "totally surprised and quite impressed with the professionalism of the all-volunteer army". He remained in the army for a decade as a brigade chaplain. He served in Germany, at Fort Hood, Texas, in Korea, and then returned to Fort Hood. After leaving the army he served as chaplain at Itasca's Presbyterian Children's home, "one of the best jobs I ever had," he says.