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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Lawrence “Larry” Carlton Cummings, Lt. Colonel USAF (Retired)July 23, 1924 – November 16, 2009
Lt. Colonel Lawrence “Larry” Carlton Cummings (USAF-retired) highly decorated veteran of 3 wars, Lt. Colonel Lawrence “Larry” Carlton Cummings (USAF-retired), age 85, passed away on Monday, November 16, 2009. Larry was born in Nashville, TN to William C. and Ethel A. Cummings on July 23, 1924.
During WWII, at age 17, he was inducted into the U.S. Army. After graduation from high school Larry went to boot camp, then immediately shipped out to Europe where he proudly and courageously served in the position of forward observer with the 70th Infantry Division.
Returning to Nashville, Larry went into the grocery business, catering to such notable customers as country music legends Hank Williams, Sr. and Eddie Arnold. As a security measure, he decided to apply for an officer’s commission in the Air Force Reserve. His request was accepted, at which time he was granted the rank 2nd Lieutenant, beginning a career of military service to this country that would continue for over 26 years.
Larry married Frieda F. Waldrop, also a native of Nashville, TN, in 1952. That same year he was “called up” to serve in the Korean War. After this tour of duty and over the next several years, Larry, Frieda and their three daughters, Patricia, Linda and Jennifer, would live in various parts of the United States, including Anchorage, Alaska, transferring to Texas just prior to the big earthquake. In December of 1965, while based in Houston, Larry was deployed to Vietnam. Promoted to major soon after his arrival in the war zone, Larry was given command of the air base he and his fellow soldiers established at Dong Ha, just a few miles away from the DMZ. This base was officially recognized by then Texas Governor, John Connally, who commissioned it “The Little Alamo”, giving honorary Texas citizenship to all of its inhabitants. Larry and those under his command became friends with the Vietnamese villagers who played a significant role in the security and stability of the air base.
In recognition of his numerous accomplishments during his service in Vietnam, Larry was presented with several prestigious awards, including the bronze star for meritorious service. Ultimately, over the course of his military career, he would acquire a total of 8 bronze stars. Some of his other awards and medals include the highly honored French Croix de Guerre, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, American Campaign Medal, European African Middle East Campaign Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, WWII Victory medal and others, some awarded multiple times.
After his yearlong tour of duty in Vietnam was complete, Larry returned to his family in Houston on Christmas Day, 1966. He was soon transferred to Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin, where he chose to retire in 1970.
After discharge from the Air Force, Larry immediately began working for the Texas Rehabilitation Commission where he would remain in service to the state for the next ten years. Complete and absolute retirement was never part of Larry’s agenda in life. Instead he continued to be active in the community, working as a volunteer at Brackenridge Hospital for 20 years, serving one term as president. He was also a volunteer with Mended Hearts of Austin and the Pflugerville Police Department. Larry was always taking care of someone else. Be it a friend or stranger, he would have given the shirt off of his own back to a person in need. Until moving to Pflugerville and suffering from declining health, Larry and his wife were members of University Avenue Church of Christ in Austin.
He is survived by his wife of almost 57 years, Frieda, daughters Linda C. Grant of Maine, and Jennifer C. Nickels and her husband, Eddie, of Pflugerville, grandchildren Helen Sikes of Utah, Dr. Jonathan R. Grant and his wife, Dr. Kristin Grant, of Massachusetts, Amy R. Grant of Pflugerville, Brant C. Sibert, William C. Nickels and his wife, Elizabeth, Ryan S. Nickels, John D. Nickels, all of Pflugerville, Dianna F. Perkins of Colorado and great-grandchild, Alannah Jade Nickels of Pflugerville. Larry was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Alfred, Henry and Ernest Cummings, and by his daughter, Patricia A. Cummings Perkins.
The family will receive friends on Saturday, November 21, 2009 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Cook-Walden Funeral Home, 6100 N. Lamar Austin, Texas. Funeral services will be held Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. in the Colonial Chapel of Cook- Walden Funeral Home. Interment will follow at Cook-Walden Capital Parks Cemetery with Full Military Honors.