Col. Donald Ryan

Blandford – flagColonel Donald Ryan passed away in his Melbourne, FL home on December 22, 2016. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota August, 1, 1920. He literally came up through the ranks of the military. After his graduation from high school, he enlisted as a private in the United States Army and became a member of the initial American unit to land in Europe in 1942. In 1943, he was ordered back to the United States to begin pilot training. Upon completion of that training, he flew back to England and served as a B-17 bomber pilot in the 8th Air Force for the remainder WWII.

After the war ended, he served as a fighter pilot in the Minnesota Air National Guard from 1945 until 1951. He was recalled to active duty, and piloted a B29 bomber during the Korean War. On one of the last combat missions of the Korean War, he piloted a B-29 named “Command Decision” on its 121st mission.  Command Decision is presently on display in the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

From 1953 to 1960, he was a pilot in the Strategic Air Command and flew the ten engine B-36 bomber. In 1960 on the day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he was at the controls of a B-52 bomber which was on SAC air alert over the Mediterranean.

After he graduated from the National War College in Washington D.C., he was assigned as Commander of the 68th B-52 Wing in North Carolina. From 1970 until 1973, he served as the Commander of the 99th Wing at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, MA. Westover was his last Command. He then retired.

He lived in Blandford, MA and was a member of the American Legion Post 356 VFW. Every year he organized and spoke at the town’s Memorial Day celebration.

He was married fifty-seven years to the love of his life, Margaret Winship Ryan. He is survived by his two daughters Holly Jedlicka (Thomas) of Satellite Beach, FL and Dianne Paschall of Melbourne, FL. He is also survived by two granddaughters, Kelly Jedlicka Mixon (Michael)  from Knoxville, TN and Marcy Jedlicka Wilson (Kenyon) from Chattanooga, TN. He is also survived by his two great-grandsons Ryder Mixon and Jed Wilson.

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