DAVID MARLOW HILL
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April 5, 1920 -- February 15, 2014
LAFAYETTE - A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM at Martin & Castille Funeral Home's SOUTHSIDE location in Lafayette, for Colonel David Marlow Hill, age 93, who died on Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 2:30 AM in Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette.
Colonel David Marlow Hill gave up the good fight early Saturday morning. His last flight will take him to join his beloved wife, Frances Martin Hill, at Arlington National Cemetery. His legacy will be his love of family, friends, flying, animals and gardening.
Dave was born in LaJunta, Colorado to George Orville Hill and Denny Best Hill. His grandparents were ranchers on land they homesteaded when Colorado was a territory. To celebrate his birth, his grandmother bought him a cutting horse and he learned to ride before he could walk. As a youth, his ambition was to grow up to be a cowboy.
Growing up during the Dust Bowl and the Depression taught him the importance of saving money and investing in education. He was a charter member of his hometown's Koshare Indian Dancers, a Boy Scout Troop that performed native Indian dances throughout the United States, including the 1937 Boy Scout National Jamboree in Washington D.C. Dave often reminisced about President Franklin Roosevelt touring the Boy Scout camp in his open air limousine during this trip.
In 1939, Dave spent the summer abroad in Paris before starting his college Veterinarian program. On his return voyage from France, he narrowly escaped a German U-Boat (both the ships preceding and following his were scuttled). He never cared much for ships after that experience.
Dave enlisted in the US Army the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, and he quickly discovered his love for flying. Upon earning his pilot's wings, he was posted to India to fly supplies over the Himalayas ("The Hump") to China. This supply operation was one of the most dangerous ones that the US Air Force had undertaken - more than 600 airplanes and crews were lost in a two year period. He rarely spoke about The Hump, except to say that his initial "Check Ride" was one of the most harrowing experiences of his life. On one mission, he was able to evade a Japanese enemy aircraft but had to make an emergency landing in a remote Burma jungle.
Following the war, Dave went on a blind date with 1st Lieutenant Frances Martin while on post in Guam. Fran was a member of the original Army Air Corps Flight Nurses and had flown throughout the South Pacific transporting the wounded. Dave was immediately smitten, and a year later, they were married. At the time, nurses could not be married and remain in the military, so Fran left to begin her second career - raising five children.
Dave was recruited as a commercial pilot but decided to remain in the military, flying transports across the Pacific. He served in the Korean Conflict, and in 1956, was selected as a faculty member of the Squadron Officer's School at Maxwell AFB in Alabama. Thereafter, he finally completed his bachelor's degree at Florida Southern University.
During the buildup to the Vietnam Conflict he flew missions into Vietnam and Cambodia, at times under enemy fire. Dave was promoted to the rank of full Colonel and served as a squadron commander at Tachikawa AFB in Japan. His final position was as the Commandant of ROTC at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He happily served in this capacity until he retired in 1972 in Lafayette, Louisiana. By then he had accumulated a great deal of flying time -- over 12,000 hours.
Subsequently, he devoted the majority of his time to his family; hunting, fishing and traveling. He used to say that traveling with Fran was like trying to stay on a wild bronco or trying to fly over the Hump. They traveled together to New Zealand, American Samoa, Europe, Costa Rica and every place in between. They also shared a second home at the old Colorado homestead of his childhood until Fran's death in 2001.
He enjoyed his last years surrounded by flowers and family in his Lafayette home. In 2013, he made a final trip to LaJunta for the 80th Anniversary of his beloved Koshares. He always said his experience with the Koshares marked his transition from a boy to a man and greatly contributed to his success and appreciation of art and culture.
Dave is survived by his five children Col. Michael (and Carol) Hill, Craig (and Kathy McNamara) Hill, Janelle (and Bill) MacDermott, Jean Hill (and Sachida Raman), and Stuart (and Liz) Hill. He is also survived by his 13 grandchildren; Laramie Logan, Lt. David Hill, Matthew Hill, Ted Hill, Mark Hill, Drew MacDermott, Erin MacDermott, Kate MacDermott, Stuart Breaux, André Breaux, Luke Hill, Alex Hill, and Thomas Hill, and his great-granddaughter, Maia Logan.
He was predeceased by his loving wife, Fran, his parents, and his brothers George Alexander Hill and James Orville Hill, as well as many other loved ones. The family extends gratitude to his incredible physician, Dr. Frank Bacque, and Ms. Kathy Willis, his caregiver whom he often referred to as the "house foreman."
Please send any donations to the Koshare Indian Dancers or Lafayette Animal Aid.
View the obituary and guestbook online at www.mourning.com. Martin & Castille-SOUTHSIDE- 600 E. Farrel Rd., Lafayette, LA 70508, 337-984-2811
Published in the The Advertiser from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, 2014
Martin & Castille Funeral Home Inc
600 E Farrel Rd Lafayette, LA 70508