Blakeslee, Donald James Matthew, “Don”.born 11-09-1918, in Fairport Harbor, Ohio to James Harold Blakeslee and his wife Mary Hervey Rintanen, she died 02-09-1963 (age 64–65) in Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, USA. Donald became interested in flying after watching the Cleveland Air Races
as a young boy. With money saved from his job with the Diamond Alkali Company, he and a friend purchased a Piper J-3 in the mid-1930s, flying it from Willoughby Field, Ohio. However, his friend crashed the plane in 1940, and Blakeslee decided the best way to remain flying was to join the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) He was commissioned in the U.S. Army Reserve as an Infantry Officer on 13-10-1938, and resigned his commission on 13-09-1940, in order to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. After training in Canada, Blakeslee began flying combat missions in England in May 1941, while assigned to 401 Squadron , “City of Westmount” Squadro, under command of Lieutenant Colonel F.G. Rock, of the RCAF. He was credited with 3 aerial victories by the time he joined the American volunteer 133 Eagle Squadron of the British Royal Air Force as its commanding officer in July 1942. Blakeslee destroyed 2 enemy aircraft before the Eagle Squadrons were absorbed into the U.S. Army Air Forces. He accepted a commission as a Captain in the Army Air Forces on 29-09-1942, and commanded the 335th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group in Europe until May 1943, when he was made Executive Officer and Operations Officer for the 4th Fighter Group. On January 1, 1944, Col Blakeslee was made commanding officer of the 4th Fighter Group, and he served in this position until September 1944, when he went on leave in the U.S.
On 06-03-1944, the same day Blakeslee flew over Berlin, Dwight. Eisenhower awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross, together with his colleque ace Don Gentile.
Blakeslee later earned another Distinguished Service Cross, as well as 8 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Silver Stars, 8 Air Medals, and the British Distinguished Flying Cross. When he served in the Korean War, he also earned the Legion of Merit, an additional Distinguished Flying Cross, and four more Air Medals. After returning to Europe, he served on the 8th Fighter Command Staff until the end of the war. He destroyed an additional 11.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat while flying with the Army Air Force, and he completed the war with 16.5 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air. Don Blakeslee was finally grounded in September 1944, after the loss of several high-scoring USAAF aces. After the war, Colonel Blakeslee served in several staff positions before flying combat during the Korean War. After Korea, he served as Special Assistant to the Division Commander at the 42nd Air Division on Bergstrom AFB, Texas, and then served on the staff of the Deputy Commander for Operations at Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from October 1954 to January 1958. His next assignment was as commander of the 4440th Aircraft Delivery Group, also at Langley AFB, from January to July 1958, followed by Operations Officer of the 836th Air Base Group at Langley from July 1958 to March 1960. He served as Director of Operations for the 4500th Air Base Wing at Langley from March 1960 to April 1961, and then as Chief of Flight Safety at Headquarters 17th Air Force at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from April 1961 to August 1962, when he became Director of Defense Operations for 17th Air Force. He was then assigned as Director of Standardization for 17th AF from July 1963 to December 1964 and then Special Assistant to the Director of Operations for 17th AF from December 1964 until he retired from the Air Force on April 30, 1965.
Generals Jesse D. Auton; Dwight Eisenhower; Carl Spaatz; Jimmy Doolittle; commander-in-chief of US Air Force Alaska Command William Ellsworth Kepner and Colonel Don Blakeslee in April 1944. Jesse Auton died 30–03-1952, age 47, in Omaha, William Kepner died 03-07-1982 in Orlando, Florida
Death and burial ground of Blakeslee, Donald James Matthew “Don”.
Blakeslee’s personal standing among Allied pilots was considerable. British ace James Edgard “Johnnie” Johnson described him as “one of the best leaders ever to fight over Germany”. Johnnie Johnson survived the war and died of cancer on 30-01-2001, aged 85, in Buxton, Derbyshire Don Blakeslee died on 03-096-2008, age 90, and is buried on the Arlington National Cemetery. Section 8-II Row 17, Site: 1