Army Veteran Donald “Don” W. Pullan is today’s Veteran of the Day.

Army Veteran Donald “Don” W. Pullan is today’s Veteran of the Day.

Donald “Don” W. Pullan, a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, enlisted in the Army when he was 19 years old. He completed basic training and chemical warfare school before being transported to Scotland on the RMS Queen Mary as a member of the 911th Air Engineering Squadron.

The 911th Air Engineers’ role mostly consisted of clearing plane wrecks, which involved removing survivors and recovering remains. Pullan landed on Utah Beach on June 10, 1944, four days after D-Day. The engineers met no German resistance when they waded to shore from landing crafts. Pullan recalled a conversation with his friend, Del Mercer, in an interview with Deseret News, “I said ‘swim or drown?’ He said, ‘probably drown’ and we jumped in.”

Pullan moved with the 911th Air Engineers through Europe, following the infantry through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. He helped to liberate the Buchenwald and Dachau concentration camps. In early April, he arrived in Kassel, Germany, to assist in the liberation of the Breitenau concentration camp, as well. While stopping to take a picture with his father’s camera, Pullan activated a landmine. He was taken to a field hospital in an ox cart, where he almost had his right leg amputated. After 60 days of recovery, he returned to the United States.

Pullan left the Army at the rank of corporal and was awarded a Purple Heart. Decades later, he reflected on the experience, noting, “When we went through those concentration camps, we realized what freedom really is. Those people gave up their lives. They couldn’t even fight for it; they just had it taken away.”

Pullan returned to Normandy in 2006, and recalled, “I was just awful lucky. There were a lot of them in front of me that didn’t make it, and a lot of them behind me that didn’t make it. When those pieces of shell start flying, they don’t have anybody’s name on them, they just sail along until they catch somebody.” He reflected on D-Day and his fellow soldiers who lost their lives. “I shed a lot more tears when I went back. We were trying to make the world free for all of us.”

Thank you for your service.


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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/.


Contributors

Writer: Aubrey Benton

Editors: Nathaniel Scott, Theresa Lyon

Researchers: Patrick E. Woods, Giacomo Ferrari

Graphic artist: Kiki Kelley

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One Comment

  1. Senior Veterans Care Network June 16, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    Thank you for your service Donald “Don” W. Pullan.

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