Prescott Valley resident Air Force Lt. Col. David Hamilton (Ret.) celebrated his 99th birthday July 20 by flying a plane during a celebratory parachute operation in Frederick, Oklahoma.
Hamilton is the last surviving Pathfinder pilot who flew in World War II’s D-Day Operation Overlord mission. He was the youngest of 20 C-47 pilots trained to drop the first paratroopers into exact positions on the beaches of Normandy to set up navigation points for the rest to follow.
His military career also included dropping Pathfinder paratroopers as part of Operation Dragoon and Operation Market Garden; dropping supplies for the 101st Airborne while it was surrounded during the Battle of the Bulge; 50 B-26 combat missions in Korea; and being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and nine Air Medals.
He participated in the jump operation with the World War II Airborne Demonstration Team, considered the premier living history team for WWII paratroopers. It is headquartered at Frederick Army Air Field in Frederick and performs at commemorations and air shows across the nation.
The jump was followed by a birthday party for Hamilton. A similar event was held in his honor for his 97th birthday in 2019.