Forrest Fenn grew up in Temple, Texas. He enlisted in 1950 with the goal of becoming a fighter pilot. He completed Radar Mechanic School at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, then was given orders to Donaldson Air Force Base in South Carolina.
Fenn trained as a pilot at Bainbridge Air Base in Georgia. He served on many bases flying a variety of aircraft, such as the T-6, T-28, T-33 and the F-100, along with other F models. In 1957, he was assigned to the 23rd Fighter Day Squadron at Bitburg Air Base, Germany.
Fenn also served during the Vietnam War in 1968. He flew 328 combat missions in only one year. Twice, he was shot down. The first time, he landed on a short runway in a dangerous maneuver. The second time, he was rescued the next day by a rescue helicopter.
Discharged in 1972 at the rank of major, Fenn was awarded a Silver Star and three Distinguished Flying Crosses. He said his time in the service weighed heavily on him, so he chose to pursue a life doing what he loved.
Fenn moved to New Mexico with his family, where he founded an art foundry and gallery that he ran for 17 years. He was involved in antiquing and art collecting. He has also written 11 books, the most famous of which was “The Thrill of the Chase.” In the book, Fenn provides clues to where he hid a million-dollar treasure somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. This hunt has inspired thousands of people to hunt for his treasure and confirmed that it had been found before his death.
In his personal life, Fenn restored a Navy T-28C for his own enjoyment. By the end of his time as a pilot, he had flown 7,440 hours. He died in 2020 at the age of 90.
We honor his service.