By Lyndse Costabile – executive director, D-Day Squadron, Contributing writer, Gary Daniels, photographer
There’s no greater joy for us than to see our WWII veterans being honored, celebrated, and supported. Especially on specific days and commemorative moments in history. This July 20, David Hamilton turned 99 years young. Dave is the last living C-47 pathfinder pilot who flew into Normandy just shortly after midnight June 6, 1944, dropping paratroopers behind enemy lines, catching enemy fire. He flew aircraft ‘14’ of the 20 C-47s that delivered the Pathfinders into France ahead of the airborne armada. His C-47 carried 18 82ndAirborne Pathfinders and dropped them at 1:12a.m. June 6, 1944.
In celebrating his birthday, he flew the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team (ADT) WWII veteran 1942 C-47 ‘Boogie Baby’ during a jump operation at the Frederick Oklahoma drop zone during the 2021 Summer Jump School. ADT member and pilot for the team, Bob Prater, was Pilot in Command and Dave flew during the jump ops mission. 20 parachutists were carried on the flight and dropped on the Frederick Oklahoma drop zone. Lift off was 6:40a.m., yet Dave is no stranger to an early morning flight dropping paratroopers!
Dave was treated as royalty at ADT and he spent most of the day after the flight talking with many members that wanted to meet him and ask him questions about his time in the service. He never tired of telling of his experiences during World War II, Korea and his remarkable life.
While a D-Day veteran, Dave also flew during Operation Dragoon in August 1944, the invasion of Southern France. He flew five missions during Operation Market Garden, September 1944 and supply drop relief mission to the 101st Airborne at Battle of the Bulge on December 23, 1944. Having separated from the U.S. Army Air Force in 1945, he returned to active duty for the U.S. Air Force in 1950 to serve in Korea. There, he completed 51 combat missions flying the RB-26 and received the Distinguished Flying Cross, 5 Air Medals. While on reserve for the United States Air Force (USAF), he flew the T-33, F-80, F84, F-86 through 1950’s. 1961 was with Defense Intelligence Agency at Dover AFB analyzing high altitude images taken by U2’s during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in 1963, Dave retired as a Lt. Col. from the USAF.
We’re so privileged to know such an incredibly man, veteran, hero to so many. Happy Birthday Lt. Col. David Hamilton. We adore you and thank you for your incredible service.
Check our this supporting article by Warbird Digest on David Hamilton: Celebrating Pathfinder Pilot Lt.Col. Dave Hamilton’s 99th Birthday