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The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has advised that in October 1987, a Vietnamese
investigation clarification team went to the village of Tung Dau, Mai Chau District.
They visited an F-4 aircraft site and found a few pieces of aircraft on the peak of a mountain.
The villagers say the aircraft crashed on the mountain peak October 7, 1967 and separated into many pieces, causing a large fire."
From that October day in 1967 until 1976, when he was reclassified as killed in action, Colonel Ivan Dale Appleby was listed as missing-in-action.
His name had never been mentioned throughout the prisoner of war system and when Col. Appleby's navigator, himself a POW, sent messages through the underground prison network, he never received a response to his question of, "Where's Ap?" In April 1988, the United States Government agreed with the findings of the Vietnamese officials.
Ivan Dale Appleby, born in Dexter, Kansas on 13 September 1930, was the only child of Armon Dale and Lilyn Peryle (Graves) Appleby. Armon Appleby, age 84, lived for a time in a California Masonic Home. He died 29th November 1991. His wife Peryle, died November 1987. They had lived for many years in Mojave, California. Armon and Peryle Appleby are buried in the East Kern Cemetery, Mohave, California.
Career Air Force from his student days at Fresno (California) State College, Appleby had been stationed at Air Force Bases in Chandler, Arizona; Woodbridge, England; Big Springs, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Montgomery, Alabama; and in the summer of 1966, he returned to Arizona. It was from Davis Monthan Air Base in Tucson, Arizona that he left for his tour of duty in Vietnam in January 1967.
In 1955, while stationed at Williams Air Force Base, Chandler, Arizona, Ivan Appleby met and married Shirley Nadine Babbitt of Mesa, Arizona. Soon afterward they were transferred to Woodbridge, England. Two of their three children, were born in Cambridge. After the family returned to the United States, their third child was born in Big Springs, Texas.
Shirley (Babbitt) Appleby, born in Sutherland, Nebraska, received a degree in education from the University of Arizona, the summer before her husband left for Vietnam. She taught Junior and Senior High School Math for several years in the Tucson area. Shirley was active in the POW/MIA organization, until after the release of the Vietnam prisoners. She continues to live in Arizona, and enjoys an active life there, looking forward to her first grandchild in November. (Shirley Appleby died in 1997).
In tracing back through Ivan Appleby's family history to discover the ancestors who helped bring forth this special person, the search leads back to pre-Revolution, to six generations to William Appleby and his first wife, Elizabeth (McKeehan)Appleby, the family's first emigrants to this country from Ireland, according to tradition. The lineage continues down through William and Elizabeth's son, John Appleby and his wife, Sarah Bell; grandson, James Appleby and his second wife, Nancy (Lane) Bond; great-grandson, Eagleton Argyle Appleby and his wife, Mary Ellen Lemmon; great-great-grandson, James Elsy Appleby and his wife, Myrtle Cain; great-great-great-granson, Armon Appleby and his wife, Lilyn Perlye Graves, being the parents of Ivan Dale Appleby.
To return, briefly, to the skies over Vietnam in 1967, Appleby's plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile while he was on a reconnaissance mission. His navigator, Captain William Austin was able to bail out but was taken prisoner. Another pilot in the same flight saw Appleby's plane hit by enemy fire, followed by a parachute. Circling around a few minutes later, after taking cloud cover, he again saw a parachute, but did not know if it was a second chute or the same one he had seen earlier. Time proved there was only the one chute belonging to the navigator. Captain Austin was held captive for six years, released from a Vietnam prison in 1974. He now lives in South Carolina.
Colonel Appleby was with the 555th Squadron. This group received distinction by flying on the most dangerous missions and because of this they were also known for having shot down the most MIGS of any squadron in Vietnam.
Ivan Appleby's daughter commented, "The family was devastated and the loss of one person effects everyone and no one ever gets over the effect." His son was nine years old when his father left for Vietnam. In speaking of his father, he said, I don't remember a whole lot other than he was a very gregarious person and loved to fly jet aircraft."
There is a memorial gravestone in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, with the name of Ivan D. Appleby upon it. His name, also, is among those etched upon the Vietnam War Memorial.
Another Airman, another time, another place, another war, John Gillespie Magee, Jr., died December 1941, serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force. While in training at Luke Air Force Base, Phoenix, Arizona, he wrote the following poem, (excerpt) "High Flight".
"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God."
How I met Captain Ivan Dale Appleby
by Jake Shuler, Class 64-D
20 September 2005
On a typical West Texas morning in May 1963, I and my tablemates saluted our T-37
instructor, 1st Lt. Emile Legendre. Nervous about my two ship formation check ride, I
asked, “have I been assigned a check pilot yet?” “Yep, Appleby” was the reply. “Crap” was
my first thought. Captain Appleby had the reputation of being a very tough grader although
there was never and question as to his fairness. My nervousness instantly intensified,
exponentially. I had no doubts that I would pass the check ride but, this being the latter stage
of our primary training, my competitiveness was at full blower and my competition, flying wise
(I was never an academic challenge to any of my classmates) had been identified, Ralph Vick,
Don Blue, Joe Howard, Dennis Kerkman, and Joe Kowalski. I needed a good grade to stay up
there amongst them.
I reported to Captain Appleby and the two check pilots and two students briefed the mission.
Soon we were airborne with me as lead aircraft. Well my aviation guardian angel was with me
that day. After forty-two years, I remember but two things about the flight – doing an over
the top maneuver (not in the syllabus) with me in trail formation, I got a little high and close
to the lead aircraft. Through my peripheral vision I noticed Captain Appleby’s hands approach
the stick and throttles – without thinking I growled “I’ve got it”. His hands receded. The second
remembrance occurred on initial – feeling good as to how the flight had progressed, I had
tucked in real tight, nearly overlapping wing tips. Captain Appleby said calmly, “Lieutenant, I
normally pink students for flying this close, but you are a damn good pilot, stay in there.”
Captain Appleby said nothing while filling out my grade sheet. He stood up, I stood up and
saluted. He handed me the grade sheet and said “it was a pleasure flying with you.” Walking
back to my table I glanced at the grade sheet – 98 “Yes”, I shouted to myself. To this day I
can not remember where I lost the two points – probably the preflight. Years later, I realized
that Captain Appleby’s reputation of fairness and his growing confidence in my God given flying
skills as the flight progressed really were the basis of my performance that day.
I learned of Captain Appleby being shot down in the early 1970’s reading an article in Parade
Magazine. My prayers were for his MIA status to change to POW and that he would eventually
be repatriated and return to his family and the flying that he so dearly loved. But this was not
God’s will. My prayer now is that his family is well. I know that they are very proud of my
favorite check pilot.
From Larry Clum
I was an Intelligence Specialist assigned to the 8th TFW from March 1967-March 1968. One of my duties was to put together "mission folders" for each crew flying that day. That duty allowed me to get to know a lot of air crews and brief them on the mission. One of the men I got to know very well was Major Ivan Appleby. He was a gregarious guy who knew no strangers. Unlike some Command pilots and GIBS, who were very serious as they looked forward to flying into the Hell that was the Hanoi area, Ivan was always in a good mood. The one incident that sticks with me to this day, is the day he came into the briefing room with three pairs of sun glasses hanging around his neck. As I handed him his mission folder, I asked him why all the glasses?.....He replied that each pair masked the explosions of each of the AAA that would be fired at him that day. I remember distinctly what he said next. " If I could see all the fire and smoke in front of me, I would have so many tears in my eyes, I couldn't fly the plane".....We both laughed our butts off on that one. His loss was a personal one to me. Most all the faces of those brave young men I worked with at the 8th TFW are a blur in my memory. Ivan Appleby is the only one I remember clearly. Ivan, you are missed.
8th TFW-Ubon RTAFB, Thailand
Currently living in Maize, KS