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    Retired Base Commander Celebrates 100th Birthday

    Retired Base Commander Celebrates 100th Birthday

    Photo By Senior Airman Daniel Meade | Retired Col. Laverne Donner, former commander of the 107th Attack Wing, New York Air...... read more read more

    NIAGARA FALLS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, NY, UNITED STATES

    12.11.2021

    Story by Airman 1st Class Daniel Meade 

    107th Attack Wing Public Affairs

    Joel Donner remembers western New York summers in the late 1940s being warm, spending those hot months as a child on his father’s farm mowing, raking and bailing hay. He enjoyed these chores set out by the elder Donner, Laverne, even if it was hard work.
    One warm and breezy day in particular, Joel recalls sitting in the family tractor mowing and raking, and the warm breeze turned into a gust.
    “All of the sudden,” Joel said, “I could hear a plane fly by, and I saw my dad doing a low level flyby on the way to Lake Ontario.
    “He was maybe 100 feet above ground when he pulled the throttle to gain altitude and he blew the hay I just raked up!”
    JoeI still remembers seeing his dad in the cockpit as he smiled down at him with a cigar in his mouth.
    Laverne “Dusty” Donner spent the years from 1945 to 1948 as a crop duster with Stearman Biplanes that had been converted for the task. This was when he felt there were no other opportunities to fly after serving in WWII.
    Formed in 1944, Donner flew as a member of the 2nd Air Commando Group in the China-Burma-India Theater in his P-51 Mustang, “Tombstone Jake.”
    After his time crop dusting, Donner got another chance to fly for the U.S. Air Force, this time it was with the New York National Guard’s 107th Fighter Group. Activated in December of 1948, the 107th brought Donner in to fly “Marilyn,” his F-100C Super Sabre, into Vietnam as one of only four Air National Guard squadrons deployed to the war.
    Donner went on to become the third commander of the 107th from 1969 to 1972, serving while the wing was organized as a tactical fighter group as well as a fighter-interceptor group. After 315 combat missions between WWII and Vietnam, Donner retired from the Air Force as a colonel.
    Now, more than 70 years from those days on the farm, Donner celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 11th 2021 surrounded by friends and family. His family celebrated his career and legacy by sharing memories and their thoughts on his character.
    “Our family is so proud of him,” said Terri Carbone, Donner’s niece.
    “He’s a hero!”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 12.11.2021
    Date Posted: 01.23.2022 11:05
    Story ID: 412617
    Location: NIAGARA FALLS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT AIR RESERVE STATION, NY, US 

    Web Views: 329
    Downloads: 2

    PUBLIC DOMAIN