1LT Donald Eugene Blair was born on April 11, 1922 in Kane, PA to Carl Almon Blair (1883-1965) and Maude Shirley (Rendt) Blair (1887-1949). According to the 1930 census he was the youngest of eight children in the Blair household on Hemlock Avenue in Kane. He attended Kane schools and was a member of the Hunting & Fishing Club and the Ski Club in high school. Blair enlisted in the Army Air Force on September 25, 1942 in Buffalo, NY. At the time, he was living in Williamsville, NY and working as a metal fabricator for the Chevrolet Motor Corp. of Buffalo.
He received his wings at Altus, OK in early 1943. He flew one of the huge B-24s from California through Florida to South America, and from that place through Africa to the India-Burma-China theatre in April 1943. Sometime between May and August 1944 the War Department awarded him the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster for “meritorious achievement in aerial flights” and the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement as a pilot when his bomber engaged in successful missions in India, Burma, Thailand, and China.”
On October 22, 1944 1LT Donald E. Blair was the pilot of B-24J #44-40588, assigned to the 10th Air Force, 7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squad. According to newspapers, his “plane was part of a 5-plane formation that departed Pandaveswar, India to bomb targets at Moulmein, Burma. Five minutes after leaving the target the formation of bombers was attacked by enemy aircraft and during the ensuing engagement one engine of 1LT Blair’s plane was seen to be on fire. The plane turned slightly to the left and the fire went out but the plane was last seen making a diving turn into the clouds over Bilugyun Island. No trace of 1LT Blair has been found since.”
Because his body was never recovered, he is memorialized at the Walls of the Missing in the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. There is also a memorial headstone beside his parents’ headstone at the McKean Memorial Park Cemetery in Lafayette Township, PA – Masonic Sec., Lot 63, Grave 2. Blair is also remembered at the WWII Memorial at Memorial Point in Evergreen Park in his hometown of Kane, PA.
#RememberTheFallen #Army #EveryNameHasAStory #SayTheirNames
Date Variations in sources:
· October 22, 1944 (several newspaper articles)
· October 24, 1944 (Veteran’s Burial Card, Memorial Headstone)
++Declared dead dates++:
· April 4, 1946 (Veteran’s Burial Card)
· October 4, 1946 (Walls of the Missing -Manila American Cemetery)
This story is part of the Stories Behind the Stars project (see www.storiesbehindthestars.org). This is a national effort of volunteers to write the stories of all 400,000+ of the US WWII fallen here on Fold3. Can you help write these stories? Related to this, there will be a smartphone app that will allow people to visit any war memorial or cemetery, scan the fallen’s name and read his/her story.
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