LtCol Donald Q. Paulsel
LtCol Donald Q. Paulsel, USAF (retired), 94, of Pendleton, passed away Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, at Community Hospital in Anderson. He was born on Nov. 20, 1919, in Lapel, Ind.
Don served 22 years in the United States Air Force serving first as a navigator during World War Two and later as a pilot retiring in 1964. He worked briefly at Guide Lamp as a supervisor and later for the US Postal Service.
Don wanted to fly airplanes since he was five or six years old. He was eight when Charles Lindbergh flew non-stop across the Atlantic, “and that did it for me. Everyone knew I wanted to be a pilot,” he explained during an interview in 1997. A ride in a barnstormer’s biplane near the family farm around age 12 cemented his desire.
Much to his dismay during World War II, he was assigned to become a navigator instead of a pilot. Though deeply disappointed, he excelled. Don dropped some of the first airborne troops on D-Day in France and was proud they were right on target. He also participated in missions in North Africa, Italy and Holland. When not dropping paratroopers, they resupplied fuel to armored troops and flew wounded soldiers for medical care.
After the war, Don was given the unusual opportunity to attend flight school and earn his pilot’s wings. His first duty station as a pilot was at Wright-Patterson AFB (then Wright Field) where he struck an acquaintance with Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier who was also stationed there.
He flew 28 missions during the Korean War flying the B-29 Superfortress. After the war, he was chosen to participate in a special mission jointly sponsored by MIT and National Geographic to track how atomic radiation moves through the atmosphere.
Don flew 14 different types of aircraft and became an instructor pilot in eight of them including the B-17, B-29 and B-50. As a Senior Instructor Pilot while stationed at SAC Headquarters at Offutt AFB in Nebraska, he often certified top brass who needed to keep their pilot status current. One of whom was General Curtis LeMay, Air Force Chief of Staff.
He attended Purdue University and later graduated from the University of Nebraska- Omaha.
Don married Marjorie Propps in 1942 and had three sons, Roger (Jean) of Weatherford, Texas, Stan (Jackie) of Noblesville and John (Jill) of Pendleton. Together they had five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
After 59 years of marriage, Marjorie passed away. Don then married Martha Armstrong in 2002. She passed away in 2010.
Don moved to Fall Creek Retirement Village at the beginning of November and was beginning to settle in when a runny nose quickly turned to pneumonia.
Don was the oldest of a family of five children and is survived by his youngest sister, Martha (Paulsel) Milburn of Lapel.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Mark and Eva Paulsel; brother, Neal (Peggy) Paulsel; and sisters, Dorothy Fort and Evelyn Moler.
Visitation will be from 4 until 8 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, at Lahm Chapel. Services will be held at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, at Wilson St. Pierre Funeral Service and Crematory, Lahm Chapel, Pendleton with Pastor Dennis Clark officiating. Burial with military honors will follow in Brookside Cemetery, Lapel.
Online condolences available at www.wilsonstpierre.com