Gerald Alley 

COL - 06 - United States Air Force
1525D - B-52 Pilot
Scarlet 03 - 22nd Bombardment Wing
307th Strategic Wing
U-Tapao, Thailand

Air Force Patch

18 Years of Service
Married with five children
38 Years Old
Pocatello, Idaho
His son currently resides in Beloit, Kansas;
his wife resides in Salina, Kansas
July 28, 1934 to December 22, 1972

 

SBithell@aol.com remembers Gerald...

Thomas R. Alley, Gerald's first cousin is my father.  I remember answering the door
one morning and seeing a very handsome man, in uniform, asking if my Dad
was home.  It was Gerald Alley.  That is the only time that I met him but I have
some home movies made by my Grandfather, Lem, that include him, Uncle
George, Aunt Alma and other relatives.

 

The Wichita Eagle
circa July 1989

Airman's remains to be returned Thursday

The remains of a former Salina airman listed as missing in action in the Vietnam War
since 1972 will be returned Thursday to Kansas.

The remains of Col. Gerald W. Alley, a navigator on a B-52 bomber that was shot
down by a surface-to-air missile on Dec. 22, 1972, are due to arrive at Wichita's
Mid-Continent Airport about 6:53 p.m. Thursday.

The coffin then will be taken by hearse to Salina.  There will be a Mass at 11 a.m.
July 15 at Sacred Heart Cathedral, 118 N. Ninth.  Monsignor John George Weber of
Clay Center will officiate.  Alley will be given a full military burial at Mount Calvary
Cemetery.

Alley's former wife, Rosemary Jochum, 2008 Quincy, and their five children will go
to Wichita for the fly-in.

To Lt. Col. Paul E. Muehring of McConnell Air Force Base, Wichita, the fly-in will be
significant.  He said since McConnell personnel learned of Alley's remains, there have
been several volunteers wanting to participate in the service.

Approximately 90 service personnel in three flights will be there to honor Alley.
"We've had to turn people away who wanted to participate in the ceremony,"
Muehring said.  "There's so much emotion surrounding it.  They recognize that
Alley was one of our own, a strategic air commander...He was one who was
unfortunate to go down in battle."

Alley's remains will arrive on United Airlines flight 248.  Three McConnell Honor Guard
will be present to oversee the transfer of the coffin from airliner to hearse.

Alley is one of 235 Americans previously listed as missing in Southeast Asia who now
have been accounted for.  There are still 2,345 Americans unaccounted for in Indochina.

Alley's son, Bob Alley of New Cambria, will fly to Travis Air Force Base near Oakland,
Calif., on Wednesday to escort his father's remains home Thursday.

Alley's remains will arrive in a standard heavy steel military casket.  When the casket
is taken from the plane, an American flag will be draped over it, Muehring said.

The honor guard will serve as pallbearers at the funeral.  During the burial ceremony at
Mount Calvary, a McConnell-based B-1B bomber will perform a ceremonial flyover.  There
will also be a 21-gun salute for Alley.

Muehring said the flyover will add a special touch to the service.

"I have seen this done many, many times and it never ceases to jerk at the emotions,"
Muehring said.  "It makes it literally seem - even though Alley was deceased for several
years - as though he died yesterday."

Alley was a native of Pocatello, Idaho.  He was born July 28, 1934, and entered active
duty in July of 1954.

 

The Salina Journal
circa July 1989

Home at last

At last Col. Gerald Alley has come home to his family in Salina.

It is not the homecoming they had longed for.  He returns to them in a flag-draped
coffin, not as the loving father and husband who left.

Alley's remains will be buried with full military honors today in Mount Calvary
Cemetery - nearly 17 years after his bomber was shot down over North Vietnam.

For Alley's family, today marks the end of a long ordeal.  At last, the loved one they lost
over Vietnam in 1972 will be buried at home.

The years of uncertainty come to a sad conclusion with a funeral mass at Salina's
Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Alley was lot to his family in December 1972.  Eventually they came to accept the
probability that he was dead.  But not until his remains were returned by the North
Vietnamese last year and finally identified by U.S. officials could they be certain of that.

Now at least there will be a funeral.

For many in Salina and throughout the nation, Alley's funeral serves as a new reminder
of the terrible years of the Vietnam War.  It reminds us all that other families still wait and
hope for some definite word of their loved ones at last.  And it reminds us of the many who
died and the many others who were changed forever.

And we mourn them all as we sympathize with a family that today observes the sad duty
of burying one who gave his life when his country asked.

 

The Salina Journal
July 1989

Alley Family 

Ed Jochum, Rosemary Jochum and her daughters watch as the casket containing the
remains of Col. Gerald Alley arrives in Wichita.

Family receives remains of veteran

Col. Gerald Alley was last seen alive as he parachuted out of a B-52 bomber over
Hanoi, North Vietnam, in December 1972.

For his family, the last time they saw him was three months before that.

On Thursday, they were reunited when Alley's remains were flown to Wichita's Mid-
Continent Airport after leaving Vietnam.

Alley finally received the respect, recognition and dignity due a decorated Vietnam
War veteran.

As the casket carrying his remains was ushered across the runway, Alley's family was
there waiting.  His widow, Rosemary Jochum of Salina, and the couple's five children
were there to accept the casket.

As the casket was carried by a McConnell Air Force Base honor guard, family members
hugged each other.  Rosemary rested her head on her husband's shoulder.

Alley's son, Bob Alley of New Cambria, escorted his father's remains on United
Flight 248 from Oakland, Calif., to Wichita.  He walked behind the casket as it
was carried past about 90 people from the Air Force Base.

 

He approached Rosemary and hugged her, then hugged his sisters - Janine Morrell
and Lisa Wehrer, both of Salina, Tracy Kalkman of Colorado Springs, Colo., and
Coleen Kerbs of Fort Morgan, Colo.

To one Wichita veteran, the return of the remains of the Air Force Colonel meant a lot.
James Denison, junior vice commander of Wichita's Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 112,
still wears a prisoner of war bracelet bearing the name of Senior Master Sgt. Paul F. Foster.

"This is very special," said Denison, a Vietnam War veteran.  "One of us is coming home
after a long time...Vietnam vets have a strong camaraderie.  When one of us comes home,
I'd like to think that as many of us could come out.  He's one of us coming home."

No one knows what happened to Alley during the past 17 years, and that is what makes
it so tough on the family and friends, said Tom Montgomery, POW-MIA Chairman for the
Kansas State Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Montgomery said the return of Alley's remains will free more than one prisoner of the
Vietnam War.

"This means that you've released a lot of prisoners of the Vietnam War," Montgomery
said.  "His family, his friends, those who flew with him who didn't know if he was
being held.  The trauma that the family and friends had to undergo for 20 years, you
would have to call them prisoners of the war."

Former prisoner of war Bayne Donaldson, a member of the Wichita Ex-American
POW, said the long wait is more than any family should have to go through.

"The fact that it's been so long is a terrible thing, the anxiety of the unknown is the hard
thing," Donaldson said.

Irvin Hicks, also an ex-prisoner of war, said the uncertainty and anxiety is hard on everyone.

"I could say that it could have been us instead of him because we were all there," Hicks
said.  "It's good that he's coming back, but not good that he's coming back in this condition.
This is the least I can do for the man who gave his most for me and his country.  I do this
for respect for my fellow Man."

The casket was taken by hearse to Salina's Bigge-Moos Chapel Funeral Home.

A funeral Mass will be 11 a.m. Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral.  A burial with full
military honors will be at Mount Calvary Cemetery, with a 21-gun salute and a flyover
by a B-1B bomber from McConnell.

Alley, a native of Pocatello, Idaho, was born July 28, 1934.  He entered the service in
1954 and wore several decorations, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the
Bronze Star medal and the Purple Heart.

 

The Salina Journal
July 1989

 

A military honor guard from McConnell Air Force Base carries the casket
of Col. Gerald Alley into Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday.

Family bids final farewell to vet
Funeral ends 17 years of uncertainty

Family members bid a final farewell to Gerald W. Alley Saturday in a funeral that put
an end to 17 years of wondering what happened to the Air Force Colonel.

When Bob Alley hugged his grandmother, Alma Alley, and gave her the American
flag that had covered her son's casket, it was one of many emotional moments during
the day.

Col. Alley was laid to rest almost 17 years after his B-52 bomber was shot down over
Hanoi, North Vietnam, on Dec. 22, 1972.  He was 38, and was missing in action for
years.  His remains were returned from Vietnam in December and positively
identified last month.

Alma traveled from her home in Inkom, Idaho, to attend her son's funeral at Sacred
Heart Cathedral.

"I had prayed to have it settled one way or another," she said.  "I had hope that he was
alive and this shattered all the hope.  But I'm glad it worked out this way so he can
be here with his family.

"When you get older, you don't take these things easy.  I loved to love him.  I loved
to hug and hug him.  He grew up to be a loving man.  Bob is a lot like that now."

Message of love

During the hour-long funeral, Monsignor John George Weber said love never fades
and pointed to Col. Alley's family.

"For the 17 years Gerry was missing, the love has grown,"  Weber said.  "We
see here the continuation of that, as it grew and as the children grew.  Love never
fades.  Love draws us together."

Weber talked of Alley's love and patriotism, how Alley showed respect for his
country, that others should do the same.  And he talked of what Alley would say
if he had one final chance.

"He would tell us to be kind.  He would tell us to be patient.  He would tell us that love
never fades...Let us try to follow the example of Gerry.  Let's try to make the
world a little better place."

Giving up the flag to his grandmother couldn't have been easy for Bob.  Bob had
escorted his father's remains from Oakland, Calif., to Salina on Thursday.

"I said I would be watching him," Bob said.  "I didn't want him to be alone."

Bob was reunited with his father in a warehouse in Oakland Wednesday.  He sat
there and cried.

"That's when it really hit me, it was just me and the casket.  The second I saw the
casket, it hit.  I knew dad wouldn't want me to cry, that he'd want me to be strong."

Hard on the family

For each family member, the most difficult part of the funeral and military burial
at Mount Calvary Cemetery was different.

For Rosemary, the toughest part was leaving the casket at the cemetery.  Bob said it
was tough watching the honor guard carry his father's casket into the church.  Alma
said the hardest part was when the hymn "Let There Be Peace on Earth" was
played.  And Tracy said the most difficult part was when Bob read the "Pilot's
Prayer" during the service.

Tracy, Colorado Springs, Colo., said the funeral brought back memories from the
past 17 years.  "It all came back, what happened to him and what would have been
like for him to have been in our lives," Tracy said.

Saturday was a day of tributes to Col. Alley, a decorated veteran who served 18 1/2
years before his plane was shot down during a middle of the night bombing mission.

One who survived that crash, retired Col. Pete Camerota, traveled from Sewell, N.J.,
to attend the funeral.  "It was sad when he was shot down, it was sadder when he didn't
come back.  And it's even sadder that it was 17 years before he got back," Camerota said.

Military honors

An honor guard from McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita carried the casket into the
church and then to the cemetery.  During the services at the church, a B-1B bomber
from McConnell flew over.

At the cemetery, family members hugged and consoled each other.  After the
traditional 21-gun salute, a bugler played "Taps," and many wept.

"When the first not is played, the eyes start to swell," said Bob, who embraced Rosemary.
"When your eyes swell up like that, you've got to grab somebody."

Rosemary and Bob 

The flag draping the casket at the funeral was folded and presented to Rosemary.

Twenty nine people from McConnell were present, as well as representatives from
the Salina American Legion Post 72 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1432.
A group of veterans on motorcycles also attended, as did several other veterans.

Janine said the graveside service made her feel like she was at someone else's funeral.
"It just didn't seem real," she said.  "But we can put this to rest.  We'll have a grave to
go to, and there's not that wondering."

Importance of family

The past few weeks have been a trying time for Col. Alley's family.  They didn't know
what to expect from the funeral.  Family members were simply relieved that it was over.

"This is a sad occasion, but it's such a good feeling to have him home," Rosemary said.
"I felt very proud today, and I have a lot of gratitude that I'm among the few that have
had it resolved."

She said her husband's support made the situation easier to endure.

"He's given me a lot of support and I'm glad he's here for me," she said.  "It would have
been really hard to get through without him."

Ed said he felt awkward about being included in the ceremonies because he did not know
Col. Alley and wanted to stay in his proper place.  "The fact that I belong with them but
wasn't a part of her life then made it difficult," he said.  "It was like I was out in left
field.  But she told me I was part of her life and she wanted me beside her."

Ed's first wife is buried near Col. Alley's grave and Ed said Rosemary has gone to the
graveyard with him before.  He said Rosemary had told him "At least you have a grave -
I don't.  Even though she was 95 percent sure he was dead, there's that 5 percent
that wasn't."

Bob said before he went to Oakland, he talked with Ed about how important he was
to the family.  "I had to let him know I loved him, too," Bob said.  "Ed has never
tried to replace my dad, and I wanted him to know how much he means to us."

Rosemary said the family drew strength from each other throughout the past 17 years
and especially the past few weeks.  Still, after all these years she couldn't believe what
was happening to her, especially with the military tributes.

"This feels like someone else's dream and I'm on the outside looking in," Rosemary
said.  "Could this be me?  Could they really be doing this for me and Gerry?"

 

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