Donald D. Anderson, age 86, of Ignacio, CO, passed away on 8-20-2020.
Don loved God, loved his wife Nita of 62 years, loved his family, and loved his country.
Don was born in Borger, TX, and moved to different locations throughout his formative years. After a short stint working for the railroad in Chicago, Don joined the Air Force. In basic training, someone asked him if he wanted to learn to fly. He jumped at the opportunity and was appointed to the Aviation Cadet Program. In 1953 he was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Enid, OK where he was a pre-cadet. In 1954 he married the woman of his dreams. He was later stationed at Webb AFB in Big Spring, TX where he attended Basic Flight School. Don graduated in 1954 with his wings and a 2nd Lieutenant commission followed by Flight Instructor School in AL and 3 years as an instructor at Webb AFB, TX. He served in Morocco for a time and was moved to Moody AFB, GA where he became a T37 Instructor. In 1964 Don and his family moved back to Big Spring, TX where Don became the Flight Commander in charge of the T41 flight program. Don served in Vietnam as a visual reconnaissance and convoy reconnaissance pilot, flying a small plane the size of a Cessna 172. His only protection during that time was God, a pistol, and an M16. The intelligence Don provided was the lynchpin in coordinated airstrikes against opposition forces. He became a master of aerial maneuvers, outwitting and dodging enemy fire and aircraft, making it hard to track his reconnaissance missions. Don once said: "If you did the same thing twice, the second was a gotcha." His engagement and service in Vietnam stayed with him and haunted him for the rest of his life. In 1966 Don received the Distinguished Flying Cross for Extraordinary Achievement While Participating in Aerial Flight. He returned to America and was stationed at Perrin AFB, TX where he instructed the next generation of pilots. In 1971, he was transferred to Randolph AFB, TX where he was the Operations Officer and Chief of Plans for the last 2 years of his Air Force career. He retired in 1973 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 20 years and 7 months of moving, teaching, flying, learning, and fighting.
Don's last move was to Ignacio, CO where he took up ranching and worked several years at the Ignacio Post Office. He was part of the Masonic Lodge of Durango and Silverton, the Eastern Star, and the Shriners in Durango, CO. His "fun" was the Shriners "Tin Lizzies" and the many parades they were in over the years. He was involved in the community of 1st United Methodist Church (now Summit Church) of Durango and served in many different ministries over the last 37 years. He particularly enjoyed the Promise Keepers men's group every Tuesday morning and rarely missed Sunday morning services. Don enjoyed hanging out with family and friends, being outdoors, watching wildlife, hunting, and fishing.
Don is survived by his daughter Margie (Jim) Winkelbauer, daughter Donna (Mike) Gomez, son Don (Kim) Anderson Jr., daughter Carol (Wayne)Thompson; grandchildren: Janet McCoy, Laura Carothers, Nita Gomez-Whitson, Miguel Gomez, Peggy Anderson-Sladek, Gary Don Anderson, Mike Martinez, Wayne Thompson, Amanda Johnson; 17 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-grandchild, and half-brother Bill Dove.
He was preceded in death by his wife Nita Anderson and grandson Aaron Thompson.
Don's Memorial Service will be held at Pine Valley Foursquare Church, located at 1328 County Road 501, Bayfield, CO 81122 on October 10, 2020 at 10:00 am, Rev. Jeff Huber will be officiating. In lieu of flowers, the family requests any donations to go to the Shriners Hospital. Don was passionate about helping kids and served as a Shrine Hospital Representative for many years.