|Lt. Col. Jim Lawrence visits Millbrook Library for book signing|
|Written by News Desk|
|Sunday, 03 August 2014 13:21|
Colleagues reunited. Lawrence (right) got a chance during his visit to speak with Millbrook resident Rich Hlavaty. Hlavaty was airfield manager at both Hurlburt Field and Eglin AFB, FL when Lawrence was active duty.
Photo: Brian Hodge
By BRIAN HODGE
Jim Lawrence, author and retired USAF Lt Col visited the Millbrook Library last week to sign copies of his latest book and meet and speak to interested visitors about his rich military experience. Lawrence, a Command Pilot with 5,800 hours of flight time, spent nearly 27 years in the US Air Force, much of that time as a pilot for special operations missions. Two notable missions with which he was involved included the evacuation of the US embassy at the Fall of Saigon at the close of the Vietnam War and Operation Eagle Claw, the failed military operation to rescue hostages from the US embassy in Tehran, Iran. He also took part in the planning and rehearsal of a planned second rescue attempt of the hostages, but that operation was aborted upon the inauguration of President Ronald Regan and concurrent release of the hostages. He later flew a support mission in an effort to free AP journalist Terry Anderson who was held in Beruit. Lawrence also searched for and located pieces of the exploded space shuttle Challenger.
Lawrence details these and many other missions in his memoir Airman's Odyssey: An Air Force Special Operator's Incredible Journey, his first book published in 2011.
"I joined the Air Force because I was going to be drafted into the US Army during Vietnam. I spent my life up to that point on a farm and did not know a thing about airplanes other than seeing them fly overhead while I was working. After testing at placement assesments I was asked if I wanted to be a pilot or a navigator, not knowing a thing about either job. But I must say I thoroughly enjoyed flying once I started," Lawrence said.
For many years he was the co-holder of the world record for C-130 non-stop flight time (29.7 hours set in November, 1979). Eighteen of his active duty years were in Special Operations.
In September 2013 Lawrence published his most recent book American Veterans: Their Stories of Service and Valor gives accounts of the lives and careers of other 62 servicemen (37 of which were from Alabama), many of whom he knew personally.
American Veterans features stories about several pilots from Elmore and surrounding counties in conflicts including World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
A native of Opp, Lawrence and his wife JoAnn currently reside near Montgomery. They have two children and three grandchildren.
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