William Donald “Don” Eastman Jr.

Published 5:35 pm Friday, May 24, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


Don was born on June 4, 1932 in Port Arthur, Texas and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Port Arthur.

Don is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and from the University of Arizona with a MS in Aeronautical Engineering.

William Donald “Don” Eastman Jr.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Don is a graduate of the USAF Aerospace Research Test Pilot School, flying over 8000 hours and qualified in piloting 59 different aircraft.

On December 15, 1964, Don was the first pilot in Aviation History to refuel a helicopter in mid-air at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Don was recognized with the Primus Award and Air Medals. He accomplished a total of 660 aerial refuelings, including 90 night refuelings, and IFR were successfully completed.

He is a nominee for the National Aviation Hall of Fame at WPAFB. Don routinely flew a single engine Chase/Pace fixed wing aircraft, a helicopter, and a fixed wing transport on the same day in flight test at WPAFB in the 1960s.

He rescued the most aircrew personnel in North Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War.

Don retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the USAF, then worked as a civilian Engineer Supervisor, retiring as the Director for Test and Deployment Systems for the C-17, retiring as a GM-15 after 21 years.

Don is survived by his loving wife and partner in life for 69 years, Alice Faye (Guidry) Eastman of Port Arthur, Texas and now of Kettering, Ohio, Daughter Dana (Tim) Murphy, Grand Children Taylor (Dan) Cline, Evan (Heather) Murphy, Daughter-in-law Hnoi Eastman, Hunter Eastman and Zoe Eastman, and Great-Grandchildren Carter and Conrad Cline and Miles Murphy.

He is preceded in death by his son Jay Eastman (2023) and daughter Diane Eastman (1969).

Alice says, it was a fast and wild ride, full of adventure, surprises, challenges and strong love. Goodbye – Love Of My Life. There will be a private military service.

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be made at www.routsong.com.