More detail on this person: David Lawrence Althoff MAY 5, 1932 - MARCH 8, 2022 Obituary of David Lawrence Althoff IN THE CARE OF Valley of the Sun Mortuary & Cemetery It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ret. Lt. Col. David Lawrence Althoff, 89, of Sun Lakes, Arizona on March 8, 2022. After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, he chose to spend his last days at home in the care of family members and Aegis Home Health & Hospice. Dave was born in Effingham, Illinois on May 5th, 1932, one of twelve children. When he was 16, his family moved to Chandler, Arizona. He attended Chandler High School and was on its undefeated State Championship football team as a standout player. He attended Arizona Teachers College (ASU) where he met Phyllis Jean Hinton, known as PJ. They were married in 1953 and had five children. Due to the military circumstances of the time, Dave knew he was going to get drafted. So, he decided to enlist. He enlisted in the Navy as a Naval Aviation Cadet in November of 1952. After flight training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in June of 1954. He completed 20 years of active service, flying 26 different kinds of aircraft, including props, jets, single engine, multi-engine and helicopters. In total, he flew off eight different aircraft carriers. In 1956 Dave served nine months at the Bikini Atoll and participated in 13 nuclear blasts where he would fly around the blast measuring the levels of radiation. He told his kids that when the radiation detection badge he was wearing filled up, he would turn it in, get a new one and go back out. Dave served in Korea and Japan flying the AD Skyraider. He was one of only eight pilots qualified to deliver an atomic weapon in a single engine, single seat Skyraider. While in Japan with a top-secret clearance, he spent 13 months flying the Skyraider with an atomic bomb ten feet off the ocean towards the Russian shipyards. He did this two-to-three times a week. Fortunately for all of us, he never had to release the weapon. There was no recovery plan if he did. Dave served two tours in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot and leader, flying the CH-46. He flew 1,084 combat missions and was shot down four times but was never injured. He earned 76 medals and decorations including 3 Silver Stars, 4 Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star medal with Combat V, 54 Air Medals and others. In 1968 he was chosen as "The Marine Aviator of the Year" and received The Alfred A. Cunningham Award. He was at Khe Sahn during the Tet Offensive and the 77-day Siege where he flew 100's of rescue missions, never losing a crew member. He is also credited with initiating the flying maneuver known as "The Super Gaggle," which saved so many lives and aircraft. He spent the last three years of service working at the Pentagon for the Commandant of the Marine Corps in charge of recruiting. He is responsible for two slogans that the Marine Corps still use to this day: "The Few, The Proud, The MARINES" and "The Marines, We're Looking for a Few Good Men." There is an ongoing effort by some of the Marines that served with him to have one of his Silver Stars upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Lt. Col. Althoff retired from the Marines in 1972 after 20 years of service and returned to Chandler, AZ to take over his father's real estate business. He was a real estate agent for 18 years. During that time, he also served on the boards of several community and professional organizations: President of the Mesa-Chandler-Tempe Board of Realtors and Multiple Listing Service in 1975; President of the Chandler United Way in 1975 and Realtor of the Year for Mesa-Chandler-Tempe 1976. Dave was also very involved with health care in the local community as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Chandler Regional Hospital (1976-1985). He was largely responsible for the building of the current Chandler Regional Medical Center and the Mercy Gilbert Hospital. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the East Valley Regional Healthcare System (1995-1998). He was a member of the Board of directors for Chandler Regional Medical center (1975-2000). He was also on the board of quite a few other organizations, all serving the local community. He was inducted into the Golden Eagles in March of 2014. The Golden Eagles are the 200 best pilots still living, only 50 of which are Marines. He was accepted as the only helicopter pilot in the group. He was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame in 2000 and the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame in 2005. Dave was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Helen Althoff, wife PJ, son Dan, grandson Danny, sister Doris Langston, and brothers Wayne and Dennis. He is survived by his wife Karen (m. 2017), and his children Michael (Janet) Althoff, Don (Laurie) Althoff, Doug (Deb) Althoff, and Meta (Donny) Pew, and stepson, Todd (Karen) Smiley; eleven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. He also leaves behind brothers Bob, Ken, Dick and Pat, and sisters Carol, Virginia, Teri and Phyllis. Dave lived a life of service to his country, community and family. He worked tirelessly to serve his fellow Marines through the East Valley Marine League and had a special affinity for the Wounded Warrior Project. He had a great sense of humor and could light up a room within minutes of entering it. In conversation, he had a way of making you feel like listening to you was the most important thing he could be doing. He will be missed by all who knew him. There will be a celebration of Dave's life at The Praise and Worship Center in Chandler AZ on Saturday the 19th of March at noon, with a reception to follow. It's located at 2551 N Arizona Ave. Those who cannot attend may watch the live Facebook stream from the Center at praiseandworshipcenter.net. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the East Valley Marines P.O. Box 13192 Chandler, AZ 85248 would be appreciated. Dave will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia with full military honors at a date to be determined.
Burial information: Arlington National Cemetery
This information was last updated 07/03/2022
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 11/02/2023
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association