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Ivan  Dale  Appleby



United States Air Force WWII


      "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.  

       (A 1995 update.)The remains of Ivan Appleby was brought home in 1995 and buried at Arlington Cemetery, Virginia.   Click on the link (below) to Arlington Cemetery for Ivan Dale Appleby's 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."


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web page: 16 June 2001

revised: 20 Aug 2006