Chet Cunningham was born in Nebraska on December 9, 1928. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Pacific University. Drafted into the Army, he was a mortar gunner in a heavy weapons company in Korea. After the war, he received a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University. He worked for small newspapers in Michigan and Oregon before moving to San Diego in 1960 to work at Convair on various audio-visual projects, including a training film for fighter pilots. He became a full-time writer when he was laid off from his job.
He wrote magazine articles while working on his first novel. His first book, Bushwhackers of the Circle K, was published in 1968. He went on to write 450 books including westerns, thrillers, military history, and medical guides. In 1994, he founded the nonprofit San Diego Book Awards as a way to honor published and unpublished local writers. He died of complications from a fall on March 14, 2017 at the age of 88.
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