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This website is dedicated to all veterans and active duty of the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard helicopter groundcrew and aircrew, and the helicopters they flew and maintained.
Harold David “Hal” Salem, USAF (Retired)January 09, 1932 – August 06, 2015
After a long courageous battle with prostate cancer, Harold “Hal” Salem passed away peacefully at home on August 6, 2015, surrounded by his wife of 61 years, Edna and their five children and spouses: Toby and Eddie Tarango, Cheryl and Phil Weiss, Julie and Vance Varholdt, Debbie and Greg McKenna and Dave and Cindee Salem. He also leaves behind twelve grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren.
He was born in 1932 in Douglas Arizona. He was one of three sons of the late John and Ethel Salem. He was commissioned in the Air Force in 1956 after graduating from Arizona State University. He was a decorated Vietnam War Veteran serving as a rescue helicopter pilot. He flew over 340 missions, survived being shot down by enemy fire twice and received many military medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross with valor. He was in Detachment Six, 38th Rescue Squadron in Bien Hoa Air Force Base Vietnam. He was a qualified fixed wing and rotorcraft pilot. During his time in the military he also earned his Master’s Degree in Business Management.
After his retirement from the Air Force in 1976, he had a successful career as a professional in the area of Environmental and Safety Engineering. Hal was passionate about his work and was a mentor to many throughout his career. He is known for treating everyone with equal respect, one of the many mottos he lived by.
He was an active volunteer for several organizations throughout the valley, such as the Veterans Hospital and the Civilian Police Academy. He was past president of the Tempe Diplomats and the Air Force Military Affairs.
Hal and Edna traveled the world during and after their military career. They also treasured the time spent at their cabin with family with friends. He will be remembered for his humor, great dance moves, hugs, hair stretches and face wakeups. He was a wonderful husband, father, Papa and G- Papa. He was our hero and he will be truly missed.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to Hospice of the Valley and the VFW.
Services will be held Tuesday August 11th at Mariposa Gardens Funeral Home, 6747 E Broadway Road, Mesa Arizona. Viewing at 2:00 PM, memorial service at 3:00 PM followed by internment at Mountain View Cemetery at 7900 E. Main in Mesa. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be given to Hospice of the Valley.
~ Guest Book ~
Thursday, August 27, 2015Edna and family, I was so sorry to hear of Hal’s passing. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.~Susan (Steppe) Di Chesere
Thursday, August 13, 2015Dear Edna and your beautiful family, Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you. We have cherished Hal and your friendship ever since first meeting you folks back at Luke AFB Local Base Rescue in the early 1960’s. Hal has been an inspiration during our USAF career and thereafter. His advice and support greatly influenced my life. Serving with him at MAC Headquarters Safety and IG strengthened my respect of his integrity, knowledge, fairness, always striving to make people and their units better. He will be sorely missed but never forgotten by all who had the blessing of knowing and toughed by this kind and caring man. May God be with you and give you peace during this time of sadness.~Bob and Loree Gardner, Paola, Kansas
Wednesday, August 12, 2015Edna and family, Louise and I were saddened to learn of your loss. We’ve been out of contact for the past week and just found out today (Wed) I was honored to serve and fly with Hal in Vietnam, he was a great pilot and a true hero.~Dave and Louise Milsten (Orange Park FL)
Wednesday, August 12, 2015Edna and Family, Jo and I were shocked and saddened with the news of Hal’s passing. We missed the last USAFHPA reunion and were not aware of his struggle with Cancer. Hal and I were good friends from the day we met at Scott AFB in 1971.We were a good team. While we didn’t communicate often in later years, we always we always seemed to pick up right where we left off previously. We were honored to have known the two of you. May God’s blessing be with you and your family always. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.~Jerry & Josephine Preston, Benkelman, Nebraska
Tuesday, August 11, 2015Edna and Family: At a time of mourning, we often feel that we are distant from those we love. Actually, they are united with us now more than ever before. No more do they know the restraints of the human condition. Now they are able to love us with a deeper love, a fuller love, a love that is enriched by God’s own love.~Stella and David Calvert, Tempe, AZ
Tuesday, August 11, 2015Edna and Family: Our prayers for strength are with you. Hal will live in all of our hearts and will always fill yours with love. We pray that time will soften your pain and provide you with smiles and laughter over the beautiful memories of such an amazing man. Hal is an inspiration for all of us in the life that he lived, the love for his family and we thank him for his years of service. We are blessed to have Hal as our neighbor and our friend.~Dave, Wendy and Shane Parton, Mesa, Arizona
Tuesday, August 11, 2015Edna and family, this was such a shock. In my opinion he was as close to perfect as God could make someone. We should all struggle to be and act like Hal. Hal will be missed by many but our memories will support us and remind us that we were truly blessed to have spent a little time with him.~David Ellig, Tempe, Arizona
Tuesday, August 11, 2015Dear Edna and family. May you feel comforted in knowing that Hal will always be remembered so dearly in the hearts of so many. His courage, kindness and patience were among the qualities I so admired about him. He will be missed…and the memory of his life will always bring a smile to my face. What a gift it was to know him.~Karen Glick, Flagstaff, Arizona
Tuesday, August 11, 2015Our hearts go out to you and your family. No matter how ‘prepared’ you think you are, it’s never easy to say goodbye to those we love and who have been such an important part of our lives. As long as your father remains in your hearts he will be a part of your lives. Let him go with love as God accepts him into His loving arms. Our prayer is that God grant all of you peace and acceptance at this difficult time.~TJ and Suk Bruce, Orofino, Idaho
Tuesday, August 11, 2015Edna and Family. We share your grief as our hopes were buoyed by Hal’s remarkable recovery from his stroke. Hal was such a good friend and mentor when I first met him in Vietnam and we have really enjoyed getting to know the both of you better at the “Bien Hoa Eagle” functions. Hal’s departure seems so very premature, but our world is so much better for the time that he spent here. Such a gentleman and friend to all. God bless you all, we will keep you in our prayers.~Mark & Lois Schibler, Creswell, Oregon
Monday, August 10, 2015I will continue to have the kindest thoughts and memories of Uncle Hal. My prayer of comfort and peace are for Edna, the family and anyone who knew this wonderful man.~Liz (Hill) Johnson, Wills Point, Texas
Monday, August 10, 2015Hal was one who might wear a big hat but not one who ever got a big head. A very special humble servant to his family he loved so much and to our country he served so well. As a Tempe Diplomat he served us well also. One of the things Hal started for us was to remind us what a great country we are blessed to be a part of by starting each meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. To make sure we always had a flag ready he bought one, on his own, that we would always be proud to display. Hal was a leader and a friend that will not be forgotten by us.~Jalma Hunsinger, Tempe, Arizona
Monday, August 10, 2015To the Salem Family, Was sadden to hear of Col Salem’s passing. I knew him briefly and flew with him several times in Arizona. Another pilot, the late Ed Gilliam, connected me with Col Salem through email some years ago. Was surprised when remembered us flying together. Col Salem was a great pilot, leader, and friend. I would have followed him anywhere. May God be with the family during this time and may Col Salem Rest In Peace.~Gary Pruitt, Littlefield, Arizona
Monday, August 10, 2015During the too few years of knowing Hal in the Diplomats, he was to me a true leader and good friend. Always upbeat and interesting to listen to, he will be greatly missed.~Dave Scott
Monday, August 10, 2015During the too few years of knowing Hal in the Diplomats, he was to me a true leader and good friend. Always upbeat and interesting to listen to, he will be greatly missed.~Dave Scott ~Tempe
Monday, August 10, 2015A true gentleman. A true Diplomat. I’ll miss him.~Jeffrey Hoodin
Monday, August 10, 2015May Hal rest in peace. He was one of our special members in the Pedro Rescue Helicopter Association. His service in the HH-43 will be remembered by many and we will miss him. Neil McCutchan, Sect. PRHA~Neil McCutchan, Winter Haven, Florida
Monday, August 10, 2015To the Salem family: Hal will be so missed by all of his Tempe Diplomat brothers! Our love and sympathy are with you Edna and all members your family. The Diplomats lost a true leader and a humble and humorous friend. Fletch Zimpfer~Fletcher Zimpfer, Tempe
Monday, August 10, 2015Although I did not Hal, I know he was a member of the helicopter community and as such will be missed by many “rotor heads”. May God bless the family and peace be with you.~Mike Sharp, Crestview, Florida
Monday, August 10, 2015In the few short years that I became acquainted with Hal, I found him to be a terrific man of character, humor and integrity. I will always remember and be grateful for his kindness and affability inside the Tempe Diplomats. Rest in peace Hal. Thanks for the memories…. Dave Thomas~Dave Thomas, Tempe, Arizona
Monday, August 10, 2015To the Salem family, please except our sympathy with the passing of Hal. He was a great person and a great hero. We will miss him greatly. We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit last March. You are in our hearts and our prayers. We look forward to seeing you next spring.~Ron and Nelia Bachman, Providence, Utah
Monday, August 10, 2015Without any doubts! A great guy, so honored to have been a member of his aircrew, may just owe my being here to his “cool under fire”. Not many a day goes by that I don’t think about Vietnam and our time together. Many years later getting together with Hal and Dale at the family cabin was truly an incredible time. We will always be together, I love you Brother!~Gerry Hammond
Monday, August 10, 2015We are neighbors of Hal and Edna in Ponderosa Springs. Our deepest sympathy goes out to Edna and their children. He was a good friend and neighbor and will be sadly missed. Dave and Darcy Duprest~Darcy Duprest, Payson, Arizona
Monday, August 10, 2015I didn’t know Harold, but I do know of some of his mission flown while in Vietnam. He was a part of our USAF helicopter family and I’m deeply saddened by his passing. God rest the soul of Harold David “Hal” Salem and may God comfort and protect the Salem family. SMSgt James W. Burns, USAF (retired), www.rotorheadsrus.us webmaster~ Jim Burns, Navarre, Florida
Monday, August 10, 2015MY SINCEREST CONDOLENCES — WHILE NEVER STATIONED TOGETHER, HAL AND I BECAME GOOD FRIENDS AS WE SHARED THE AIR FORCE’S HELICOPTER RESCUE MISSION — HE WAS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTOR TO THAT MISSION AND A GREAT FRIEND —~Jay M Strayer, Colonel, USAF (Ret) Xenia, Ohio
Monday, August 10, 2015The obituary was such a lovely tribute to a truly fascinating gentleman! Brad and I are so very sorry for your loss and the loss of yet another great patriot and defender of our freedom. Our prayers go out to you.~Laurie & Brad Watkins, Freeburg, Illinois
Monday, August 10, 2015What can you say about Hal? He was an exceptional gentleman who lived out the virtues of Honesty, Integrity, Compassion, Courage and Valor. A great Husband, Father, Grand and Great Grandfather as well as a loyal and true friend……This time it was Hal’s turn to ride the forest penetrator to safety and Heaven and I will just bet you that Pits was operating the hoist! You will be missed, remembered, and thought of often. Your friend and Hooch mate Ed “Doc” Koch~Ed and Karen Koch, Kenosha, Wisconsin
Monday, August 10, 2015Uncle Harold you were truly one of a kind. You will be missed way more than you could ever possibly know. Words cannot even begin to express my sympathy for Aunt Edna and the family. I may not have gotten to see you as much as I would have liked to, but I think of you and the family so very often. I just want you to know that you were loved and will be missed.~Susan Hill-Olivarez, Sachse, Texas
Sunday, August 09, 2015Harold, You are going to be missed so much. We’ll meet again one day. You are what we call a gentleman’s gentleman. We didn’t see you often but when we did, it was great. We love you. Love and blessings to your family. Your cousins John & Nora Francis~John and Nora Francis, St. Clair Shores, Michigan
Sunday, August 09, 2015Harold you will be missed by many in the family and many friends. Thank you for fond memories of good times. Your cousin Alfred and Freda Morad~Alfred Morad, Northville, Michigan
Sunday, August 09, 2015Edna & Hal raised one of the most wonderful families we have ever had the honor of having as friends…”HAL = LOVE” As one US Air Force family to another…We wish Hal, Blue Skies and a Great Flight. We salute him. God Bless Hal and All of You…Love and Hugs…~Patty and Gary Smith
Sunday, August 09, 2015So long old friend, you will be deeply missed. You were toughened by the battles, and tempered by your love of family, friends, and country. Like a tall tree you have cast a shadow, which many of us have enjoyed and will miss. We share your family’s grief and sorrow. Fair well old soldier we loved you.~Karl and Pam King
Sunday, August 09, 2015I had the privilege of being in the Tempe Diplomats and the Tempe Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee with Hal. I have found few people so humble, gentle but yet a real hero. I will really miss spending time with this great American.~Rick Oliver, Chandler, Arizona
Sunday, August 09, 2015Edna and family, you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. It has been a long and challenging few weeks for all of you, and we are so glad we were able to see Hal before we moved. He was a true gentleman and a gentle man. We were neighbors for 7 years and always looked forward to spending time with Hal and Edna. He was very proud of his family and loved talking about his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. We loved hearing about his military service and travels. Hal, you will be missed by many, but we know you are no longer suffering and your legacy will continue. RIP our friend~Sally & Kevin Walsh
Sunday, August 09, 2015To the Salem Family, Mike and I are so sorry for the loss of your husband, father, PaPa, and G-PaPa. I know his passing will leave a tremendous void as he was a truly special man, not only to you, but to all those who had the privilege of knowing him. May God grant him rest and you comfort.Mike and Debbie Manning~Debbie Manning, Ofallon, Illinois
Saturday, August 08, 2015Sorry for the loss of a truly real special person. You made an impact on a lot of lives. He had a great family which our daughter Cindee was a part of and really special to her. She loved him so much and so did we what a great Man. We all really loved him.~Carolyn Daly, Sun City, Arizona
Saturday, August 08, 2015Though I have only known you a short time in the scheme of things, Pat and I always enjoyed your and Edna’s company, and I considered you one of my close friends. I always enjoyed our talks and time together at Tempe MAC. Rest easy my friend and enjoy the flight.~Tom Claridge, Apache Junction, Arizona
Saturday, August 08, 2015Best officer I ever worked for in my 20 years of military service. A Vietnam War hero and friend, I will never forget this man. I had the privilege of meeting his loving family and I offer my sincerest condolences to Edna, Hal’s daughters, son, and all others in his family. God’s speed Hal Salem.~Hunter Vaught, Bellevue, Nebraska
Saturday, August 08, 2015Ever since Hal’s 80th Birthday party when I learned he and his Co-Pilot were shot down in their helicopter (not once but twice), I realized what an incredible life he lived and legacy he built. A legacy that may never have been… Although many will miss him, and in a big way, what a blessing God gave us all to save him back then. Our thoughts and prayers go out to an amazing family, we are thankful and blessed to know. We are comforted in knowing the many incredible memories you have of Hal will carry you through this difficult time, as well as the rest of your lives.~Al & Suzette Marquiss, Cave Creek, Arizona
Saturday, August 08, 2015Hal, You are someone we will never forget. RIP. Hugz,Marie and Frank Casanova~Marie Casanova, Milford, Connecticut
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