Deke Childs was born on September 5, 1920, in Valley, Nebraska. He attended Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, Missouri, for two years before entering the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1940. His class graduated a year early due to the demands of World War II, and he was commissioned a 2d Lt in the Army Air Forces on June 1, 1943. Lt Childs also completed flight training during his final year at West Point, and was awarded his pilot wings on the same date. After completing P-47 Thunderbolt fighter training, he was assigned to the 401st Fighter Squadron of the 370th Fighter Group, and he deployed with his unit to England in February 1944, at which time the Group converted to the P-38 Lightning. Capt Childs served as a P-38 pilot with the 401st Fighter Squadron, stationed in England from February to July 1944, in France from July to September 1944, and Belgium from September 1944 until April 1945. During this time he flew 97 combat missions, and then remained in Germany on occupation duty with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe until returning to the United States in July 1946. His next assignment was on the staff of Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces, and then Headquarters U.S. Air Force, at the Pentagon, where he served as an Assignments Officer, Chief of the Colonels Division, and then Chief of the General Officers Assignment Branch from July 1946 to January 1952. Lt Col Childs served as Commander of the 23rd Fighter Bomber Squadron at Furstenfeldbruck AB and then Bitburg AB, West Germany, from January 1952 to May 1953, and then as Commander of the 36th Fighter Bomber Group at Bitburg from May 1953 to December 1954. His next assignment was as an Operations Staff Officer and Special Projects Officer with the 3600th Combat Crew Training Wing at Luke AFB, Arizona, from February to June 1955, followed by service as Commander of the 3600th Combat Crew Training Group at Luke from June 1955 to August 1957. Col Childs served as Director of Crew Training with Headquarters Flying Training Air Force at Randolph AFB, Texas, from August 1957 to April 1958, and then as Assistant Director of the Flying Training Division with Headquarters Air Training Command at Randolph from April to July 1958. His next assignment was as Executive Officer to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations with Headquarters U.S. Air Force in the Pentagon from July 1958 to August 1962, and he then attended National War College at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., from August 1962 to July 1963. His final assignment was as Executive Officer with the U.S. Representative NATO Standing Group in the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon from July 1963 until he was medically retired on October 22, 1964. Deke Childs died on March 29, 1998, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For heroic achievement while participating in aerial flight in the European Theater of Operations on 17 August 1944. Demonstrating superb flying skill and courage he led his flight of P-38 type aircraft to attack an enemy anti-aircraft emplacement. Under his bold leadership the flight destroyed the gun position, thus enabling the balance of the squadron to inflict heavy damage on a motor convoy hauling vital material. His brave and daring actions were responsible in large measure for the destruction of vital enemy equipment, and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Army Air Forces.