Don Hillman was born on August 24, 1918, in Seattle, Washington. After graduating from Stanford University in 1939, he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on October 9, 1940, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings on May 30, 1941. Capt Hillman served as an instructor pilot before joining the 386th Fighter Squadron of the 365th Fighter Group flying P-47 Thunderbolts in England in November 1943, and he was credited with the destruction of 5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before he was shot down by flak over Germany on October 7, 1944. Lt Col Hillman served as the Commander of the 386th Fighter Squadron, and was Operations Officer and then Executive Officer of the 365th Fighter Group before he was shot down. He was immediately taken as a Prisoner of War and managed to escape and make it back to friendly lines near the end of the war. After returning to the United States and recuperating from his captivity, he served as Commander of the 94th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Group at March Field, California, from August 1946 to June 1949, and later served as Deputy Commander of the 306th Bomb Wing at MacDill AFB, Florida, from December 1950 to January 1953. During this time he participated in the first deep-reconnaissance mission against the Soviet Union when he commanded a B-47 Stratojet over Siberia on October 15, 1952. Col Hillman's next assignment was as Deputy Chief of the Operations Division with Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, from January to April 1953, followed by service as Chief of Tactical Requirements with Headquarters Strategic Air Command from April 1953 to May 1956. He served as Commander of the 42nd Bomb Wing at Loring AFB, Maine, from June 1956 to January 1958, and then as Commander of the 92nd Bomb Wing at Fairchild AFB, Washington, from January 1958 to July 1959. Col Hillman next served as Commander of the SAC Reflex Action Force of 15th Air Force stationed at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, from July 1959 to February 1960, followed by service as Commander of the 6th Strategic Aerospace Wing at Walker AFB, New Mexico, from February 1960 to May 1962. He then served as Special Assistant to the Commander of 15th Air Force at Walker AFB from July 1962 until his retirement from the Air Force on September 1, 1962. Don Hillman died on March 16, 2012.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action on 27 September 1944. Lt Col Hillman distinguished himself by outstanding bravery and aerial proficiency while leading his squadron in aerial combat with a superior number of enemy aircraft over Germany. At great risk to his own personal safety he attacked alone and unescorted a flight of eight hostile planes; by his skillful maneuvering and intense fighting spirit he succeeded in destroying two of their number and forcing the remainder to withdraw. Lt Col Hillman's unswerving courage and self-sacrificing regard for the safety of his fellow pilots are exemplary of the finest traditions of the Army Air Force.