South Missouri Chapter of VHPA

Marine Aviator

Naval Aviator

Upon returning to the States in 1980 LTC Merritt joined the Army Aviation Systems Command in St Louis, MO. He attended the Program Management Course of the Defense Systems Management College at Ft Lee, VA before reporting to St Louis where he was the maintenance officer for the Cobra Program Management Office before assuming the duties of the Readiness Project Officer , Scout/ Observation Helicopters for the US Army.  In 1984, after being selected for promotion to Colonel, he became the Director of the Systems Management Directorate, AVSCOM.

     LTC Merritt retired in 1984. Moving to Chicago he spent 20 years in management positions with industry and the Security sector, earning an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice,  before moving back to Missouri in 2004. Joining the Owensville Gun Club he became the Field Captain, High Power Rifle and initiated the use of the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) Courses of fire for competition at the Club. In 2006 the Club accepted sponsorship of the “M1s for Vets Project” and LTC Merritt became the coordinator of the “PROJECT” for the Club. In retirement LTC Merritt is the Senior Vice Commander of the VFW Post in Owensville, MO and he is the Commander of the American Legion Post in Rosebud, MO.

     LTC Merritt holds the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star ( 3 awards ) 1 for Valor, the Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal ( 4 awards ), Air Medal (13 awards ) 1 for valor, and the Army Commendation Medal ( 4 awards ).

Donald E.S. Merritt

Air America

Army Aviator

Air Force Aviator


South Missouri Chapter of VHPA



      Born in Little Rock, Arkansas LTC Merritt grew up in California. He attended Anaheim Union High School . LTC Merritt enlisted in the California NG , Nov 1953, attended state Officer Candidate School in 1956 and was commissioned a 2nd LT on July 4th 1957. LTC Merritt attended  the Infantry School , Ft Benning , Georgia and served as an Infantry platoon leader until 1961 when he transferred to the Transportation Corps and attended the Army Aviation Fixed Wing Aviator Course at Ft Rucker, Alabama. Returning to California , then Captain Merritt held a number of positions before attending the Officers Rotary Wing Aviator Qualification Course at Ft Wolters, Texas in 1964. He then assumed command of Company E (AM&S), 40th Maintenance Bn., 40th Armored Div., CALARNG.

   After serving 13 years in the National Guard , then Captain Merritt entered active duty in 1966. After attending UH-1 helicopter transition training at Ft Benning, GA he was deployed to Vietnam as a pilot in the 1st Aviation Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division. In November of 1966 LTC Merritt was flying a UH-1, at low level, when a burst of AK-47 fire destroyed the cockpit of the helicopter wounding both the pilot and the copilot. Recovering from his wounds LTC Merritt returned to the unit as a aircraft maintenance officer. In May of 1967 he was assigned to the Army Aviation Systems Command with duty in Carlsbad ,California as Chief of the Flight Test Division, Hughes Plant Activity. He and his assigned test pilots performed government flight acceptance on  OH-6A and TH55  helicopters produced by Hughes Helicopters for the US Army.

   Deployed again to Vietnam in 1969 , then Major Merritt was assigned to the 14th Trans Bn (AM&S) as the operations officer (S3) 9 months later he was named Commander of the 608th  as Executive Officer of the 15th Supply and Transportation  Bn. In 1975 he assumed command of C Troop (AM&S) , 34th  Support Bn, 6th Air Calvary Combat Brigade. LTC Merritt earned a Masters Degree from Central Texas University while assigned to FT Hood by attending night classes. Trans Co. (AM&S) which he commanded till he returned to the States in 1970. LTC Merritt attended the TC Advanced Course and the Command and General Staff College and received his BS Degree from Chapman University before reporting to Ft Hood Texas and the 1st Cavalry Division

   In 1976 LTC Merritt was assigned to Germany for duty with the 3rd Armored Division. Posted to the Division Support Command he served as the S4 and then as S3 of the Command . Upon his promotion to LTC  in 1978 he was transferred to  V Corps, G4 as the Plans and Operations Officer.  

Coast Guard Aviator