Larry Gene Highfill

September 13, 1942April 13, 2014
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Larry Gene Highfill, 71, passed away on April 13, 2014, at his home in Olympia, WA. He was born on September 13, 1942 in Mooreland, Oklahoma to Kenneth and Dortha (Berry) Highfill. He grew up there and graduated from Mooreland High School in 1960. After high school he attended college at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK where he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Larry was commissioned in 1965 upon completion of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program and served for 24 years in the Air Force. He served two tours in Vietnam, flying A-1 Skyraider attack bombers with the 1st Special Operations Squadron, and was the recipient of three Distinguished Flying Crosses for heroism, eleven air medals, a Purple Heart, and numerous other medals and awards. He flew A-10s while stationed at RAF Bentwaters in England. He retired in 1989, achieving the rank of Major. Larry married Kelsey Lynn Duck in 1965 in Stillwater, OK. They were happily married for 48 years. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, photography, and building and flying model airplanes. In later years he enjoyed golfing and playing with his grandchildren. The lives of his children, his grandchildren and his entire family were enriched by his love, his curiosity, his dry wit and his wisdom. Larry was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Dortha; brother, Jimmy; and son, Steven. He is survived by his spouse Kelsey of Olympia, Washington; his daughters Kelly (Darek) Bielec of Central Park, WA and Lori Highfill (Shane Lindsey) of Toledo, WA; his sister Betty Schneider of Woodward, OK; his grandchildren Kelsey and Hania Bielec and Oliver Highfill Lindsey. He enjoyed his family of nephews, nieces, and cousins. Family will hold a graveside service with military honor guard at Forest Grove Cemetery, Tenino, WA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to your local VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post. Condolences may be left on Larry Gene Highfill’s online guest book at


  • Graveside Service Friday, April 18, 2014

Larry Gene Highfill

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Don Maxwell

July 14, 2014

Larry was everything that I read in the guest book remarks. Quiet, intelligent,quick-witted, a great pilot, a true hero. He will be missed. I'm glad I knew him.

Byron Hukee

May 26, 2014

To Kelsey and family. I am so terribly sorry to hear of Larry's passing. He was one of my favorite "characters" in the 1st SOS flying the Skyraider. His quiet professionalism was something we all admired. He was and is, a true American hero.

Pat Holloway

April 28, 2014

So Sorry to hear about Larry. I am the wife of a distant relative of Larry's. My husband's mother was Lelda Patton Holloway. We also live in Washington. We live in Wapato, near Yakima. Jeremiah G. (Juri) Highfill was Lelda's grandfather.

April 22, 2014

So sad to hear of your loss. Prayers to whole family. Love, Sally Attwood

Lee Castell

April 22, 2014

What can I say about a 65 year friendship? Maybe a couple of stories that you and the girls have not heard before about Larry.
I met Larry in the first grade ... what were we 5-6 years old? Mrs Burns, Mrs Hopper, Mrs. Chenoweth, Mrs. Yauk ... we grew and learned together (how to get into trouble with each teacher. Ha! Ha!). I think we were about 11-12 and it was time for the “end of school picnic” ... remember those? Larry and I decided that we would hike out to Boiling Springs the day before the picnic and spend the night in order to be the first ones there the next morning. We got out there the evening before and found a nice spot with a fire pit along the north side of the road going through the park. No camping gear at all, just a couple sandwiches to eat, we got a fire going and huddled up to keep warm. Around midnight a couple of cars drove slowly past. We could tell they were teenagers by the music coming out of the windows with the laughter. They turned around and came back going a little faster. All of a sudden we were being bombarded with eggs. We weren't directly hit, but the splatters got all over us. It dried up before dawn and wasn't too noticeable at the picnic. Only the teachers noticed. Ha! Ha!
Larry and I spent those 12 school years in Mooreland. After graduation we roomed together at college (Stillwater) ... the first year in the dorm ... the second year in the basement of a rented home. Our “room” was in the corner of the basement with the other two walls made of plywood. We could barely fit 2 cots and 2 dressers in it.
Larry was Best Man at our wedding. One of our first meals that Yvonne cooked was chicken and noodles and we invited Larry over to help eat them. We really tried, but the noodles were less-than-perfect, i.e, tough as old shoe leather, and we just couldn't get them down. Okay ... let's go buy hamburgers! Ha! Ha! (Yes, Yvonne has since learned how to make perfect noodles.)
Larry and I were in ROTC together, graduated, and joined the USAF. The Air Force took us down different paths and I lost track of where Larry was and what he was doing for a few years. I flew F-4s in Vietnam for a couple tours.
This was a very strange incident that happend on the first tour. During one mission, I took another small arms hit in the belly of the aircraft and had to land at NKP. Maintenance said it would take a least a day or two to fix it. I was just happy to be on the ground in one piece and I needed a drink. One of the Intell guys pointed me toward the Officer's Club. As I walked in the door, I stopped to let my eyes adjust to the dimly lit area. A little Thai girl (waitress?) materialized from the shadows and she immediately raised her right arm, finger pointing to the dining area and said, “Your friend is waiting for you in there.” This was my first time at NKP ... didn't know my way around ... didn't know anyone ... and my mind was asking “What's she talking about? It's the middle of the afternoon ... everyone was out flying missions ... there wasn't even anyone sitting in there.” But I went on it anyway still trying to figure it out. Over in one corner was a lone figure sitting at a table, the only one in the room, so I headed that way. The closer I got the more familiar he seemed. OMG! It was LARRY! How did that little Thai girl know? Larry was just as surprised as I was. Very eerie, mysterious ... Anyway we had a great time “catching up”.
I hope that Larry has told the grandkids the story of his ejection and the night his hair turned white evading the VC. It's an amazing story.
Larry has touched so many lives ... he certainly has mine. Kelsey, you and I have already had discussions about religion and you know that I believe I'll see Larry again sometime. He will live on in our memories and he will be missed ... until then.

April 21, 2014

You don't know me but I was Larry's wingman on the day he was shot down. I can close my eyes and see every detail of that moment. I wish you God's peace and comfort. And I'll throw a nickel on the grass for Larry, may he rest in peace.
Tim Brady

Betty Verd

April 21, 2014

Kelsey and Lori
You are in my thoughts and prayers. Kelsey if ever you need to talk to someone who has been through losing a husband I'm just a phone call away.

April 21, 2014

Larry and I were squadron mates in Southeast Asia in 71-72. He was a great pilot, cool and calm under fire, and it was a great pleasure to have him as a friend. He is also responsible for the both the worst and best days of my life. Those days happened when were were flying a search and rescue mission together in a really bad place. The worst part was when he got shot down, the best part was rescuing him the following day. As was so typical of him, he remained cool and calm throughout the entire ordeal, evading the enemy and making it possible for us to find him and pick him up. He will be missed.
"Roadhouse Red Clevenger"
Battle Ground Wa

Jon "Goldy" Goldenbaum

April 21, 2014

Larry was a great pilot and squadron mate in the 1st SOS at NKP, one of the best. A quiet warrior who represented the best of our nation.

Carol/Terry Wallin

April 21, 2014

Our deepest sympathys go out to Larry's loving family. Your loss is touching the hearts of all of us who were so blest to have known him. A man of few words, but a man who had a smile one will never forget. His love for his family will carry on thru all the wonderful memories they all will carry in their hearts forever. Oh yes* that proud Grandpa glisten in his eyes when he spent time with his grandchildren was so special once you saw it you'd always remember it when you thought of him. His service to our country and the wings he earned shows just what a dedicated man he was. We salute you Larry...and may you rest in peace...embraced by Angel wings*