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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Roy T. Church Vietnam War Photograph Collection

Identifier: 2017-09-29
The Roy T. Church Vietnam War Collection is primarily comprised of slides and photographs related to the 1965-1969 military service of Roy T. Church, a bombardier and navigator for the United States (U.S.) Marines during the Vietnam War. The majority of the photographs, which are informal snapshots, depict military life in Vietnam and military aircraft during the war. Some of the photographs were taken by Church.

The collection contains 63 color slides that feature military personnel, such as unidentified soldiers in casual settings, as well as next to and aboard aircraft; military buildings, including bunkers and hangars; Church's military training, including his time on the USS Lexington from 1965-1967; scenic shots of Vietnamese rural life, including shots of civilians and children; aircraft, in flight and on the ground, including a Grumman A-6F Intruder; and several aerial shots, likely over Vietnam and Laos. Additionally, there are a few images of the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State, circa 1967.

There are also 14 snapshots. The images mostly feature soldiers in a variety of settings, including marching on patrol, performing repair work, posing next to buildings, handling guns, and at award ceremonies. There is also a group portrait, likely a graduation shot, in front of a building with a sign over the door, "U. S. Naval Aviation Schools Commands, Battalion Two." Other pictures feature aircraft, including a shot of a Grumman A-6F Intruder being refueled in flight and a "crispy critter" (per the donor: an aircraft bombed by the Viet Cong forces).

At the end of the collection is a partial map of Vietnam, which has been folded over and taped to a rectangular piece of cardboard.


  • 1965-1969


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.03 Cubic Feet (1 letter size folder and 1 oversized folder)


Roy T. Church (b. 1944) was born in Great Falls, Montana and served in Vietnam with the U.S. Marines as a bombadier and navigator from 1968-1969. The collection contains slides, photographs and a map related to his military service.

Biographical Note: Roy T. Church

Roy Church served with the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War as a bombardier-navigator and afterwards worked as a corporate and contract pilot for over forty years. He was born in 1944 in Great Falls, Montana. In high school, he was a member of the Marine Corps League Junior Rifle Team, ranking in the top ten of All-American rifle shooters for two years. After graduating from high school, Church was accepted into the Navy ROTC scholarship program and began studying at the University of Michigan. While enrolled, he was a member of the ROTC drill team and the University’s rife team. In July 1964, he was dismissed by the university due to academic performance.

After leaving school, Church took correspondence courses and held a job while trying to gain readmission. In July 1965, he changed paths and joined the Marine Corps Aviation Cadet Training Program. Though he failed the flight physical due to astigmatism, he was able to enroll in naval flight officer training and received training as a bombardier-navigator. He completed his advanced bombardier-navigator training in Sanford, Florida and his Grumman A-6 training at Cherry Point, North Carolina. From there, he was sent to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington State as part of the West Coast Navy Replacement Air Group. Upon returning to North Carolina in January of 1968, he received his overseas orders for Vietnam.

During his combat tour, Church served at Da Nang Air Base in South Vietnam. He flew 198 missions in North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and Laos. He also served for six months as the air group security officer. Church returned to the United States in April 1969 and was honorably discharged as a captain when his enlistment period ended in 1970. Afterwards, he served with the Marine Corps Reserve.

After leaving active duty, Church briefly returned to the University of Michigan and took a job as a part-time security guard for Chrysler. Chrysler offered him a full-time position and, in 1973, sent Church to flight school. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Church worked as one of Chrysler’s air taxi pilots. His passengers included Chrysler executive Lee Iacocca, as well as government officials and rock bands.

Church retired from Chrysler in the 1990s and launched a new career as an independent contract pilot. He also flew for a commercial glider operator while living in Hawaii. After retiring in 2008, he and his wife relocated to Gig Harbor, Washington. He joined The Museum of Flight Docent Corps in 2008 and is still an active volunteer as of 2018.


Biographical information derived from oral history interview and additional information provided by donor.
Historical Note: Vietnam War The Vietnam War, between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, lasted from approximately 1955 until 1975 and was fought with the goal of reunification. The North Vietnamese were aided financially and militarily by China and the Soviet Union, while South Vietnam was backed by the United States.

Regular U.S. deployments began after the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident. However, U.S. involvement peaked in 1968 following the Tet Offensive, which was an attempt by North Vietnam forces to execute surprise attacks on military and civilian command and control centers throughout South Vietnam. The Tet Offensive triggered the decline of support from the U.S. public eventually dovetailing into the anti-Vietnam War movement. In May 1968, peace talks began between the United States and North Vietnam in Paris, France.

Gradual withdrawal of U.S. ground forces began in 1973 as part of "Vietnamization," a policy of President Richard Nixon's that sought to end American involvement by providing equipment and training to the South Vietnamese with the goal of transferring fighting solely to their forces. Additionally, President Nixon suspended military offensives against North Vietnam and on January 15, 1973, direct U.S. involvement ended.

Despite all parties signing the Paris Peace Accords, fighting continued between North and South Vietnam but South Vietnam was not able to sustain its defense against North Vietnam. The Vietnam War ended in April 1975 when the North Vietnamese Army captured Saigon, the capital city of South Vietnam. The countries reunified the following year.

Source and Further Reading:

Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: a history, New York: Viking Press, 1983.


No further accruals are expected.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.
Guide to the Roy T. Church Vietnam War Photograph Collection
Completed - Level 3
J. Parent
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
2nd Edition

Revision Statements

  • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.
  • July 2020: Updated related materials note, updated related agents

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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