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Don Summers

  • "God Bless/RIP,to ALL who served in WWII..The USA would NOT..."
    - Herb Sharfenaker USMC

Summers Don Summers formerly of Columbus, passed away on January 5, 2014 in Oceanside, CA at the age of 91. Don was born in Lake Crystal, MN in 1922, the first of two sons of Charles and Elma (Wesner) Summers. He dropped out of Macalester College in St. Paul, MN following his second year to enlist in the Army Air Corps during WW II. Aviation became a lifetime passion. Following pilot training, Don was commissioned as a lieutenant and deployed to England in October 1944 to pilot the B17 Flying Fortress during the Ardennes offensive air campaign. He joined the 709th Bombardment Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force. Don flew 35 combat missions totaling 270 combat hours in the European Theatre. He and his nine member crew were cited for successfully bombing industrial targets, enemy troop concentrations, strategic bridges, and war vessels. Don was promoted to Captain and was the recipient of several awards including the European, African, Middle Eastern Theatre Ribbon with 2 Bronze Stars and the Air Medal with 5 Oak Leaf Clusters. Upon completing his 35th combat mission he was inducted into the Lucky Bastards Club and rotated back to the U.S. Following his active duty, Don joined the Air National Guard and retired as a Major. He continued to teach flying and worked as an air traffic controller in Fargo, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Duluth. He then became a corporate pilot in Cincinnati and later became the chief pilot for Crown Auto in Columbus. While at Crown he started Air Ohio, a regional air charter business and flew many area businessmen and sports figures to destinations throughout the Midwest. In 1984 he flew his last flight in 40 years of flying and retired at age 62. He and his wife, Elinor, relocated to Oceanside, CA where he could play golf daily. While in Oceanside, he invented and held patents on the Avdex Altitude Alerters and formed Tectron Corp to market the product. Don was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Keith Summers of Blue Bell, PA and his wife of 67 years Elinor. He is survived by daughters, Cathy (Tom) Manuel, Karen (Fred) Lowery; sons, Don (Debbie) Summers Jr. and Brian Summers. He is also survived by seven grandchildren, Keri (Tom) Stratton of Dover, Ohio, Erin (Steve) Grove of Fishers, IN, Brent, Troy and Angie Summers of Columbus, Scott and Courtney Montgomery, also of Columbus. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren.

Published in The Columbus Dispatch on Jan. 15, 2014
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