Don Blakeslee was born on September 11, 1918, in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army Reserve as an Infantry Officer on October 13, 1938, and resigned his commission on September 13, 1940, in order to join the Royal Canadian Air Force. After training in Canada, Blakeslee began flying combat missions in England in May 1941, while assigned to 401 Squadron of the RCAF. He was credited with 3 aerial victories by the time he joined the American volunteer 133 Eagle Squadron of the British Royal Air Force as its commanding officer in July 1942. Blakeslee destroyed 2 enemy aircraft before the Eagle Squadrons were absorbed into the U.S. Army Air Forces. He accepted a commission as a Captain in the Army Air Forces on September 29, 1942, and commanded the 335th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group in Europe until May 1943, when he was made Executive Officer and Operations Officer for the 4th Fighter Group. On January 1, 1944, Col Blakeslee was made commanding officer of the 4th Fighter Group, and he served in this position until September 1944, when he went on leave in the U.S. After returning to Europe, he served on the 8th Fighter Command Staff until the end of the war. He destroyed an additional 11.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat while flying with the Army Air Force, and he completed the war with 16.5 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air. After the war, Col Blakeslee served in several staff positions before flying combat during the Korean War. After Korea, he served as Special Assistant to the Division Commander at the 42nd Air Division on Bergstrom AFB, Texas, and then served on the staff of the Deputy Commander for Operations at Headquarters Tactical Air Command at Langley AFB, Virginia, from October 1954 to January 1958. His next assignment was as commander of the 4440th Aircraft Delivery Group, also at Langley AFB, from January to July 1958, followed by Operations Officer of the 836th Air Base Group at Langley from July 1958 to March 1960. He served as Director of Operations for the 4500th Air Base Wing at Langley from March 1960 to April 1961, and then as Chief of Flight Safety at Headquarters 17th Air Force at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from April 1961 to August 1962, when he became Director of Defense Operations for 17th Air Force. He was then assigned as Director of Standardization for 17th AF from July 1963 to December 1964 and then Special Assistant to the Director of Operations for 17th AF from December 1964 until he retired from the Air Force on April 30, 1965. Don Blakeslee died on September 3, 2008.
The Synopsis for his 2nd Distinguished Service Cross reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster in lieu of a Second Award of the Distinguished Service Cross to Donald J. M. Blakeslee, Colonel (Air Corps), U.S. Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-51 Fighter Airplane in the 4th Fighter Group, EIGHTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces during the period from 21 June 21 to 5 July 1944. Colonel Blakeslee's unquestionable valor in aerial combat is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 8th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.