Donald R. Emerson was born in Joliette Township, North Dakota on May 17, 1923.
In June 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was trained as an armorer. Soon thereafter, the qualifications for Aviation Air Cadets were changed and Emerson applied for pilot training. He completed the basic aircraft training courses and was graduated in October 1943 at Craig Field, Alabama. He was awarded his wings and a commission as 2nd Lieutenant. He then was enrolled in familiarization training on the P-51 fighter.
He completed his P-51 training in December 1943 and was assigned to the 336th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group, stationed at Debden, England. In August 1944, he was appointed as Air Operations Officer for the 336th.
Between March 1944 and December 1944, he flew 87 combat missions and received credit for 4.5 aerial victories plus 1 probably destroyed and 2.5 destroyed on the ground.
On December 25, 1944, while returning from an escort mission to Kessel, Germany, he encountered 6 FW-190 fighters. In the rolling fight that followed, Emerson shot down 2 of them, but ran out of ammunition. Dropping into a heavy cloud bank, he was heard to transmit that he was "on the deck and heading home." At the low altitude, he was fired upon by flak guns and crashed near Sittard, The Netherlands.
He was buried at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten, The Netherlands. He lies in Plot B, row 15, Grave 21.
There is a memorial monument to Captain Emerson at the Kollenberg-hill in Sittard, The Netherlands.
Donald R. Emerson was 21 years old.
At the site of the crash a memorial is dedicated to Captain Emerson.
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