A patriot: Maj. General Doyle Larson leaves long legacy


(Created: Wednesday, August 22, 2007 10:29 PM CDT)

Major General (Ret.) Doyle Eugene Larson, 76, of Burnsville died Aug. 13, 2007, under hospice care.

Larson, a well-respected member of the United States Air Force, is remembered as a motivated, hard-working man.

"He has many accolades and he deserved them," said Ralph James, Larson's brother-in-law. "He was a patriot. He loved the country, loved his family and was always trying to do his best. Those of us who knew him are proud of him."

The Madelia, Minn., native joined the Air Force in 1952, during his junior year at Macalester College in St. Paul. He entered basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, then studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in California. He went through the cadet program, trained to be a navigator, received his wings and his commission to 2nd lieutenant.

In 1962, on the Bootstrap program, he received his B.A. in English from Hardin Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and in 1970, received his M.A. in political science from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

During the Vietnam War, he was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, until 1970. He was assigned to the Pentagon in 1971 and in 1974 was promoted to brigadier general. In 1977, he was promoted to major general and became director of intelligence of the Strategic Air Command in Omaha.

During his military career, he founded and served as the first commander of the Electronic Security Command and the first director of the Joint Electronic Warfare Center.

"I remember the advice he gave to me when I went into the military," James said. "He said, 'Ralph, I encourage you to volunteer for everything that happens so you step forward.' That's exactly what Doyle had done for himself - when there were opportunities, he said, 'I would like to try that.' He just kept being out in front all the time. He discovered he could do things well, so he just moved on up."

Larson and his wife moved to Burnsville in the 1980s. After he retired, he continued to be active, serving as president and chairman of the board of the national Air Force Association and as a trustee at Macalester.

He spoke at numerous local civic organizations and businesses after his retirement. He was always working to find ways to assist the families of military men and women serving overseas and was especially attentive to young men and women who planned to join the military after high school or college.He was a visiting lecturer with the National Security Agency, speaking about threats from terrorism. He was also an active member of his church, Mt. Olivet, singing in the choir right up until a few months before his death.

He started defense consulting firms and served as president of AMPS (Association of Modeling Planning and Simulation Inc.), NCWG (National Correlation Working Group), Larson Lectronics, Centurion Group, and D.E. Larssen Inc. In Minnesota, he led a special task force for homeland security.

"We're not surprised he continued to work, because that's the type of person he was," James said. "He was always a hard-working, bright individual. He was willing, he was helpful."

In 2004, the Air Force Association named Larson its National Member of the Year. In 2005, he was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was part of the first group to be inducted into the Defense Language Institute's Hall of Fame, for his work developing the career linguist force within the Air Force.

On July 27 of this year, the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency building on the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas was re-named Larson Hall, in honor of Larson's 32 years of military service. A bronze bust honoring Larson was unveiled during the ceremony and will be in a place of honor at the hall's entrance.

His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters and V device. Larson's most cherished award was the Order of the Sword, for which non-commissioned officers honor leaders who have made significant contributions to the enlisted corps.

He is survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters, four grandchildren, two sisters and other relatives and friends.

A memorial service for Larson will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church, West 50th Street and Knox Avenue South, Minneapolis.

The family requests memorials be given to: Air Force Association (1501 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22209-1198), Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church Retreat Center (5025 Knox Ave. S., Minneapolis MN 55419-1095) or American Cancer Society (P.O. Box 22718, Oklahoma City OK 73123-1718).