Jack Donalson was born on July 6, 1915, in Kyle, Texas. He worked as a Topographic Draftsman for the Texas Oil Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from 1934 to 1937, and later attended the University of Tulsa for 3 years before joining the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Corps on January 1, 1941. Donalson was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, on August 15, 1941, and then joined the 21st Pursuit Squadron of the 35th Pursuit Group in the Philippines in November 1941. He was credited with the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft on December 8, and another on December 9, 1941, and later served as an infantryman before escaping the Philippines and joining the 9th Fighter Squadron of the 49th Fighter Group in Australia in April 1942. Lt Donalson destroyed another 2 enemy aircraft with the 9th Fighter Squadron, making him an ace. He returned to the U.S. in October 1942, and trained in the P-47 Thunderbolt before joining the 487th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group, in December 1942. Capt Donalson deployed with the Group to England in July 1943, and later commanded the 328th Fighter Squadron, also in the 352nd Fighter Group, before returning to the U.S. in May 1944. He served as a flight instructor for the rest of the war, and later served as Aide de Camp to Gen Quesada at Tactical Air Command from January 1947 to September 1948. His next assignment was as Operations and Training Officer for the 86th Fighter Wing at Neubiberg AB, Germany, from September 1948 to June 1949, followed by service as Assistant Chief of Operations for the 2nd Air Division and Operations Duty Officer for 12th Air Force at Wiesbaden AB, Germany, until August 1951. He was Operations Officer and Director of Combat Operations for the 34th Air Division at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, from September 1951 to August 1952, and then Director of Operations for the 4750th Air Base Group at Yuma County Airport, Arizona, until September 1953. Col Donalson next served as Director of Operations for the 529th Air Division at Paine AFB, Washington, from September 1953 to August 1955, followed by Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1955 to August 1956. He served as commander of the 26th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in the Philippines from August 1956 to July 1958, and then served as an Air Force advisor to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard until September 1961. Col Donalson was a Weapons Inspector in the Inspector General's office with Headquarters Air Defense Command at Ent AFB, Colorado, from September 1961 to May 1963, followed by service on the Operations Staff with NORAD at Ent AFB until deploying to Southeast Asia in May 1966. He served as Battle Commander and Director of Operations and Training with the 6250th Support Squadron at Tan Son Nhut AB in the Republic of Vietnam from May 1966 to May 1967, and he then served on the staff of the 1151st Special Activities Squadron at Ent AFB until his retirement from the Air Force on May 31, 1968. Col Donalson flew 121 combat missions during World War II and accumulated almost 5,000 flying hours during his Air Force career. He died on September 24, 2006, and was buried at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.
His Distinguished Service Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism in action on Bataan Peninsula in February, 1942. When the remnants of an enemy landing party, numbering approximately seventy five men, firmly entrenched along the shore under a cliff on the west coast of Bataan, were able to repulse with heavy losses all overland attempts to dislodge them, volunteers were called for to undertake an attack from the sea in two small boats. Lieutenant Donalson volunteered, commanded one of the boats, and in spite of heavy fire from the defenders and bombing, during the course of the attack, by nine enemy dive-bombers, succeeded in neutralizing the enemy position, thereby preventing further losses to our forces.