Donald H. Penning

Don was born on March 11, 1921 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was attending the University of Michigan at the time of Pearl Harbor’s bombing. Penning and his best friend decided to enlist and they received a grand send off as they left for Detroit.

After hitchhiking for one hundred and fifty miles, they arrived at the Detroit Post Office. A coin flip would determine his fate. Heads and he would enter the Army Air Corps. Tails and it would be the Navy. Heads it was and he enlisted in the Army Air Corp on March 18, 1942. He was told to go back home and await orders. Somewhat embarrassed to be returning after such a big send off, he snuck back to Grand Rapids.

Preflight was in San Antonio, Texas. After a little trouble with the depth perception test (third time was a charm), he was allowed to continue his training. Primary was in Ft. Worth, Texas; Basic at Goodfellows AFB in San Angelo, Texas; and Advanced was at Brooks Field in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated in January 1943 with class 43A. Among his classmates were future 118th members Oscar Nislar, Berthold Peterson, and John Powell.


Air Medal 07Aug44

Distinguished Flying Cross 08Oct44

Air Medal (Oak Leaf Cluster) 08Jan45

Chinese One Star Medal for Gallantry

Asiatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with two Battle Participation Stars