Army Air Corps Veteran Donald D. Pucket is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Donald D. Pucket was an Army Air Corps B-24 bomber pilot who earned a Medal of Honor, a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation, among other decorations, for his self-sacrifice and courage in combat.
Pucket was born in Longmont, Colorado, and he enlisted in the Army Air Corps in Denver in November 1942. He trained to be a pilot in Muskogee, Oklahoma; Strother Army Air Field, Kansas; and Altus, Oklahoma. He graduated from advanced two-engine school in October 1943 and was commissioned a second lieutenant by the Army Air Corps.
After training with the 470th Bomb Group’s 803rd Squadron in Tonopah, Nevada, and being transferred for a brief period to Hamilton Field, California, Pucket deployed to Europe as a B-24 bomber pilot in April 1944 with the 98th Bomb Group’s 343rd Squadron. He was promoted to first lieutenant in June that same year.
Pucket took part in his last combat action in Ploesti, Romania, in July 1944, where he ultimately lost his life. His Medal of Honor citation states that, while “he took part in a highly effective attack against vital oil installations” in Ploesti, attacks from anti-aircraft guns left his aircraft badly damaged, six fellow crew members wounded and one crew member killed. Despite the injuries to his crew and the critical damages to the aircraft, which included “the controls cables cut, the oxygen system on fire, and the bomb bay flooded with gas and hydraulic fluid,” he “calmed the crew, administered first aid, and surveyed the damage.” Three of Pucket’s crew members refused to jump from the aircraft when he advised them to do so. Despite his best efforts to control the aircraft and save the lives of his fellow crew members, Pucket’s plane crashed into the mountainside, killing all on board.
Pucket’s Medal of Honor was awarded in June 1945 as a result of his efforts to save the lives of as many of his fellow crew members as possible. His remains are now buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
We honor his service.
Carry the Load
In 2022, VA is joining forces with Carry The Load to honor veterans during the “Memorial May” March, a national relay visiting 50 VA national cemeteries to honor our nation’s fallen service members. A link to this webpage is here. The complete list of participating cemeteries can be found here. Volunteers are encouraged to register in advance.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Writer: Kim McAdams
Editors: Annabelle Colton, Theresa Lyon
Researcher: Kennady Hertz
Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley
Project Manager: Oasis Diaz