Tracy loses a hero, one of its own

World War II veteran Dick Donaldson holds a picture of him and his 12-member flight crew during World War II. Donaldson is the last surviving member of the crew. Photo / Per Peterson

WWII bomber pilot, former businessman Dick Donaldson dies at 98

Dick Donaldson 1923-2022

By Per Peterson

One of Minnesota’s last surviving World War II heroes and a member of what is commonly referred to as “The Greatest Generation,” bomber pilot Dick Donaldson, died last Tuesday in Sioux Falls at the age of 98, less than a week shy of his 99th birthday.

Former Headlight Herald co-owner and editor Seth Schmidt called Donaldson a true lifelong learner.

“For someone who was 98-years-old, Dick was remarkably forward-thinking and curious about the future,”  said Schmidt, who worked with Donaldson at the Headlight Herald. “To the end of his life, Dick was well-read and interested in current events and scientific developments. Dick was a charter student in Southwest Minnesota State’s Senior College program and an avid participant. I believe he was still driving to Marshall attending Senior College classes last fall.”

In 2015, Schmidt wrote about Donaldson’s war exploits as part of the “City of Austin” to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender that ended World War II:

“The 22-year-old Tracy native was in the co-pilot’s seat of an American B-29 Superfortress flying over Tokyo with 324 other bombers after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Each plane’s mission was to drop 20, 500-pound incendiary bombs over the city of 6 million people and cause as much damage as possible,” Schmidt wrote.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.