Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Member of the “Greatest Generation” Shared WW II Piloting Experience Monday at Dixie State College

Daniel Jackson authored the book titled "The Forgotten Squadron" which was the 449th Fighter Squadron that flew P-38s. Don McCloud was a pilot in the 449th.

(St. George, UT) – In 1942, and only a week after graduating high school, Paul “Don” McCloud made a remarkable decision that gave him a trip around the world. That trip included some experiences from the unique position of a fighter cockpit seat during the closing of World War II. McCloud shared a bit of his memories Monday at the Dixie State College President's Colleagues meeting.

He began with a humble recognition.

“I’m married to a wonderful and talented girl: had a great family with her, I am just so blessed in my life, with the circumstances that occurred throughout my life,” McCloud said in his opening remarks. “I am grateful for that and I hope you see how grateful I feel.

“I volunteered to tell this story because it’s not heroic, it’s just a great adventure and I’m sure you’ll agree.”

The 87-year-old Washington resident’s presentation was expanded to outside of his previous audiences.

“This is actually the first presentation I’ve done besides doing some in family home evenings and some for the scouts,” McCloud said. “It is very enjoyable and I just appreciate the opportunity so much.”

His military service and flight training took him to bases in California and Arizona, where he received his commission as a Second Lieutenant and his pilot's wings. McCloud was a flight leader and trained newly graduated pilots in fighter tactics. He was then sent to India and China as a fighter pilot, where he logged close to 1100 hours of total flight time. He was on active duty for more than three years and attained the rank of Captain.

McCloud was a member of the 449th Fighter squadron (51st Group, 14th Air Force) and flew four missions over what was then French Indo-China (now North Vietnam). He was promoted to Flight Leader after a second mission and received a brand new P38 L flown in from India in time to fly the next two missions.

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