Harold Kahler

United States Air Force
27 January 1923 - 17 August 1979
Lincoln, Nebraska
Panel 22W Line 047



Harold Kahler

USAF Command Pilot

Purple Heart, Air Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Harold Kahler

14 June 2003

The Tactical Air Command (TAC) Sea Survival course at Homestead AFB, Florida was mandatory for all Air Force aircrews going to Vietnam, and in May 1968 Major Harold "Pappy" Kahler was the ranking officer in my class.

He was older than everybody else in the class, and older than most F-105 pilots. I guess that's why we called him "Pappy". I don't know where he picked up the nickname, but with his graying hair and the grizzled five o'clock shadow he had at the end of each day, the nickname was very appropriate.

I always thought he was from an Air Force Reserve unit, and recently a friend of the Kahler family told me that Pappy was a member of the Nebraska Air National Guard, who was called to active duty during the Korean War and remained on active duty afterward.

In South East Asia, Pappy and I were both assigned to the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base (RTAFB). Pappy was in the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, I was in another squadron, the 41st TEWS, at the other end of the flight line.

Every day before we flew, we received an intelligence briefing that included the location of the SAM sites and AAA sites, the level of the MIG threat, and a summary of any aircraft losses the previous day. In June 1969, I was "short" -- almost ready to go home. As I sat in the EB-66 briefing room listening to the briefing before one of my last flights, the intelligence officer said that Pappy's plane had gone down in Laos. He was the last man I knew who was lost before I rotated home.

Around 1:15 in the afternoon on June 14, 1969, Pappy was flying an F-105D, call sign Mantis 02. According the official history of the 355 TFW, he was

"lost during a bomb pass on a bridge in the 'B' sector of Laos. The lead aircraft noted a flash in his mirrors after pull off, and later located the impact area on a steep ridge beyond the target. There were no observed enemy defenses in the target area. No chute was seen, no beeper heard, and the pilot is listed as MIA."

Pappy Kahler was a good man. I was a young Lieutenant and he was a senior Major, but that didn't matter to him. He was always friendly. He was old enough to be my father, yet he always treated me like a man. I'm proud to have known him.

Thomas Mangan
Brockport, N Y 14420

12 Feb 2005

I have had his MIA bracelet since probably 1969. I was told about this site and was looking up a friend who was lost in Vietnam and realized I could try and find Harold.

It's great knowing something about this man.
As luck has it ... I am married to a Harold.
Peace to Mr. Kahler's family.

E-Mail will be forwarded by the

23 Apr 2005

I went to see your name on the Wall this week. It hit me as hard as the Wall is scribed. You are real, not just on my wrist. You served and need to come home to your family and America. I am no one you know, but I know you from the MIA wrist band.

You are no longer a wrist band, but a person who served this country faithfully.

Please Mr. President, bring him back home.

Lisa Ferlita

10 Nov 2005

Even though I never met him he is my hero. He is my great uncle and I will always look up to him.

From his niece.
E-Mail will be forwarded by the

Notes from The Virtual Wall

As noted above, on 14 June 1969 Major Kahler was flying wingman in F-105D tail number 60-5381 on a strike mission against the Ho Chi Minh Trail when he went down. Both the POW Network and Task Force Omega report that a ground team was inserted and located the aircraft wreckage but found no sign of Major Kahler; the POW Network also reports that the Pathet Lao claimed to have shot down an F-105 on 14 June.

Major Kahler was carried as Missing in Action until 17 August 1979, when the Secretary of the Air Force approved a Presumptive Finding of Death, changing his status to "Died while Missing". He was promoted to Colonel while in MIA status.

The POW Network states that Colonel Kahler entered the Air Force during World War II, receiving his wings in 1943, but did not see combat action. It does not address his service during the Korean War.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
someone who served with him,
Thomas Mangan
Brockport, N Y 14420
14 Jun 2003

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 11/13/2005