Donald E. Hillman

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Donald E. Hillman
Donald Hillman.jpg
Lt. Col. Hillman in his P-47
Born (1918-08-24)August 24, 1918
Seattle, Washington
Died March 16, 2012(2012-03-16) (aged 93)
Seattle, Washington
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch United States Army Air Corps
United States Army Air Forces
United States Air Force
Years of service 1940–1962
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit 365th Fighter Group
1st Fighter Wing
306th Bombardment Wing
Commands held 386th Fighter Squadron
388th Fighter Squadron
94th Fighter Squadron
6th Air Mobility Wing
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Silver Star (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Air Medal (34)
Croix de Guerre avec Palme
Other work Air Force liaison for Boeing

Donald E. Hillman (August 24, 1918 – March 16, 2012) was an American World War II flying ace and prisoner of war credited with five enemy aircraft destroyed. He was also the first American pilot, in 1952, to make a deep-penetration overflight of Soviet territory for the purpose of aerial reconnaissance.[1][2]


Hillman was born in Seattle, Washington on August 24, 1918. He graduated from Broadway High School, and attended the University of Washington for a short time before transferring to Virginia Military Academy. He then transferred to Stanford University, where he graduated with a business degree in 1939.[1]

Hillman joined up in October 1940, and underwent his flight training with the Army Air Corps. In 1943, he deployed to Europe as commander of the 386th Fighter Squadron. He flew P-47 escort missions initially with the Eighth Air Force, and then in 1944 with the Ninth Air Force. Later that year he was shot down and held as a POW in Stalag Luft III. After an unsuccessful escape attempt, he was transferred to another camp, where he managed to successfully escape, aided and accompanied by a disillusioned German officer. After the war the two became good friends.[1]

On October 15, 1952, a Boeing B-47B Stratojet piloted by then Colonel Hillman, deputy commander of the 306th Bombardment Wing, left Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. It crossed over the Arctic ocean, turned eastwards back over Siberia, and returned to Eielson via Provideniya. It was the United States' first deep-penetration reconnaissance mission against the Soviet Union.[2][3]

Hillman retired from the Air Force in 1962, taking up an Air Force liaison position with Boeing in Seattle. He died on March 16, 2012 aged 93.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Seattle-born WWII POW and hero Donald E. Hillman dies at 93 The Seattle Times, March 24, 2012
  2. ^ a b Hell Hawks!: The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht by Robert F. Dorr & Thomas D. Jones
  3. ^ The Early Overflights: "Pearl Harbor Complex" Article by Walter J. Boyne, Air Force Magazine, June 2001

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