We have several WWII veterans traveling with us to Normandy on our 75th Anniversary of D-Day tours. As we will do in the weeks leading up to D-Day, today we are spotlighting one veteran, Dave Hamilton. Dave was a decorated pilot in the Army Air Force and will be traveling with us on the Commemorative Air Force 75th Anniversary of D-Day Tour.
Army Air Force Pilot Dave Hamilton: WWII Experience
On 8 December 1941, Dave Hamilton enlisted in the Army Air Force and trained as C-47 pilot. Dave was assigned to 436th Troop Carrier Group, 9th Air Force, and sent to Bottesford Base, England. He went through Pathfinder Pilot training and was assigned to the Pathfinder Unit. During his first mission, he dropped pathfinder paratroopers into Normandy, France on D-Day 6 June 1944. In August of 1944 he dropped pathfinder paratroopers into Dragoon in Southern France (1 mission), and in September 1944, into Market Garden, Holland (5 missions).
On 23 December 1944 he led C-47s in for a supply drop to the 101st Airborne at Bastogne. He performed various other TCG (Technical Coordination Group) duties, including Eisenhower’s “airline” between England and France after D-Day, when he flew B-24s to deliver copious amounts of fuel to Patton and evacuated the wounded.
He received four Air Medals, nine stars on ETO campaign ribbon, two Presidential Unit Citations, Order of William from Holland, and was awarded the French Legion of Honor Medal. He also earned his jump wings from 82nd Airborne.
In 1945, he separated from the Army.
Post-WWII Military Career
From 1945 to 1950, Dave flew C-47s and C-54s for Trans Air, and then Constellations for American Overseas Airline. In 1950, he was back on active duty with Military Air Transport Service as an Operations Officer and helped to develop procedures for evacuation of the wounded from Korea. He flew C-47s and B-25s for flight pay eligibility.
In 1952, Dave went to Flight school at Langley for RB-26s (“I liked them a lot, they were faster than C47s and they had GUNS!!”) and then on to Korea with the 37th Bomb Squadron, 17th Bomb Group, 5th Air Force. He flew 51 missions, and received the Distinguished Flying Cross and five more Air medals, and two more presidential Unit Citations.
In 1953, Dave was in the Air Force Reserves, Eastern Air Defense Command (EADC), 329th fighter Squadron. He went to jet school, where he flew T33s, F80s, F84s, and F86s. On staff at EADC, he received a mobilization assignment to weapons development and was involved in the development of the sidewinder missile.
In 1961, he was at the Defense Intelligence Agency at Dover AFB, where he analyzed high altitude photos taken by U2s during the Cuban Missile crisis. He retired from the United States Air force as a Lt. Colonel in 1963.
D-Day to the Rhine Tour
If you’d like to learn more about the men like Dave Hamilton who fought on D-Day and the ensuing days, please join us on our D-Day to the Rhine Tour. Our D-Day historians are experts in their field and world-renowned authors. Their years of extensive research and interviews with hundreds of WWII and D-Day veterans on the very battlefields on which they fought add a personal dimension to our D-Day tours that no other WWII tour company can offer.