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Allen County Public Library Interviews

Donald Wolfe

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Col. Donald Wolfe is an extraordinary person. He was born in 1921 in South Dakota, and from childhood, always wanted to fly. He was promised by Army officials that he could join the Army Air Corps in 1939 but was instead inducted into the infantry. An uncle helped him get transferred to the Air Corps, even though he did not have good vision in one eye. He flew many different planes in the years leading up to going overseas to fight in World War II. He was a problem-solver and was able to figure out (in the air) how to control a certain kind of plane when one engine went out by grabbing the rudders with his feet in a certain way. (Other pilots had failed and crashed).

In World War II, he became a commander and piloted a bomber in more than 60 bombing runs over France. His plane took flack but he was never shot down. He had a lot of close calls. He flew on D-Day and on many other occasions. After the War he remained in the Air Force, holding a variety of desk jobs (he preferred flying). At one time he was the commander at Baer Field in the 1950s. Later, General LeMay selected him along with other pilots to fly for the Strategic Air Command (SAC). His plane was armed with four atomic bombs and later hydrogen bombs. He flew sorties to fail safe points during the Cold War and described how he had to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

As of this recording, Col. Wolfe is still a brilliant and highly capable man at 97. While his eyesight his gone, his mind is as fresh as any person I have met. He spoke full stop for two hours about his life and needed no prompting from the interviewer.


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