Lt Richard Lee Laws, Naval Aviator
Richard Lee Laws (1940-1966) grew up traveling over 1000 miles between Texas where and California, where his father, a skilled carpenter, was able to get work. He, his brother and mother picked crops such as cotton, vegetables and fruit in the scorching Texas sun to earn money for the family. It took fifteen years, but his family eventually built a brick house in Sacramento, California.
He was the first in his extended family to graduate from high school, and always dreamed that he would fly airplanes. This was his passion. The freedom of a plane in the sky offered escape from the rigors of his earthborn life. He was very good at mathematics and science, and won a place at the United States Naval Academy, where he was graduated in the top 10% of his college class. Education was his ticket to a dream, and he became a naval aviator. As a decorated Navy Lieutenant, he was shot down over North Vietnam flying his F-8 from the aircraft carrier Hancock on April 3, 1966, over Xuan Du village in Thanh Hoi province. It was his third flak suppression mission on that day.
Dick, as he as called, loved horses and cars, and could fix any broken engine. He was a gentle man, slow to anger, and quick to smile. He was deeply committed to his small children Richard and Cheryl, and to his wife, parents and brother. He always studied hard, and believed strongly that education and personal commitment were key to opening the door to opportunity. He would be proud that his legacy offers that prospect to others.
The Richard Laws Xuan Du Scholarship is funded by his family to honor his memory; by his colleagues who remember him with great affection and respect, and by other Americans who did not know him, but join with us to foster a deepening friendship between our two countries.