MHAFB remembers retired Col. Chester 'Soapy' Walborn

  • Published
  • 366 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 366th Fighter Wing pauses to remember retired Col. Chester "Soapy" Walborn, a local Mountain Home hero, who died Jan 16.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the Walborn Family at the passing of Col. Chester A. 'Soapy' Walborn," said Col. Christopher Short, 366th Fighter Wing commander. "He was an American Hero who proudly served his country as a military officer and in the community after he retired from military service. During all of this he considered himself the luckiest person on earth to do what he loved ... serve his country and fly airplanes."

Walborn was born in the hills of Kentucky on September 8, 1932. When he was 9 years old he lived near Scott Field, Illinois, where he saw every type of airplane flown in World War II - as Scott Field was a common stopping point for planes transiting the country to Europe. This introduction to aviation gave birth to him eventually achieving his goal of becoming a military officer and a pilot.

He was commissioned March 15, 1953, and over his career, he flew more than 8,400 flying hours in 15 different airframes, from B-25s, to F-111Fs and F-15s. In these aircraft, 2,600 hours were in combat operations over two tours in Vietnam, one as an Airborne Liaison Officer with the Vietnamese Army and the other with the 391st Fighter Squadron, a current MHAFB squadron. While in Vietnam, he received the Silver Star, nine Distinguished Flying Crosses, 27 Air Medals, two Purple Hearts, Bronze Star with "V" for Valor, four Vietnamese cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Vietnamese Medal of Honor.

After Vietnam, he became the Deputy Commander for Operation at MHAFB in 1974 and Vice Wing Commander in 1975. He retired July 1980 and moved back to Mountain Home and became involved with the community and military associations,

Some of his notable community contributions include the Daedalian's, charter member and past Flight Captain Billy Mitchell, Flt #19 in Wiesbaden, Germany, original Charter Member Gunfighter Flight #93 at Mountain Home, launched the local Air Force Association chapter in 1980 and served as chapter and Idaho state president for 18 years.