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Donald Dalton (1939–2015)

Donald Dalton served as a brigadier general in the Arkansas National Guard. At the end of his career, he was the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard.

Donald Dalton was born in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 10, 1939, to John and Dora Dalton. His father worked as a baker, and Donald had an older brother and two older sisters at the time of his birth. While he was a child, the family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), and Dalton graduated from Central High School in 1957.

Dalton enlisted in the Air National Guard as a weapons mechanic that same year. In 1961, he received a commission as a second lieutenant and entered undergraduate pilot training at Laredo Air Force Base in Texas. Returning to Arkansas, Dalton served with the 154th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, flying the RB-57. A modified tactical bomber, the aircraft was designed for weather reconnaissance. He was promoted to first lieutenant in 1964 and captain in 1966.

After the capture of the USS Pueblo by North Korea in 1968, the squadron was activated, and Dalton served as the air operations officer for the unit. In 1969, he earned a marketing degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. In 1972, he completed the Professional Management Development Program at Harvard University. Dalton was promoted to major in 1975, and the squadron was reorganized into an aerial refueling unit the same year. Flying KC-135 Stratotankers, the unit was later renamed the 189th Air Refueling Group. Dalton continued to fly tankers until 1978, when he became an operations staff officer.

In September 1978, Dalton was reassigned to Headquarters, Arkansas Air National Guard, where he served as an information staff officer. In 1982, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. In 1988, Dalton was promoted to colonel and named deputy commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard. He also flew as an evaluator in C-130 aircraft during this period. In 1990, he was named chief of staff of the Arkansas Air National Guard. He held this position during Operation Desert Storm as part of the Air National Guard deployed to the Middle East.

Dalton was promoted to brigadier general in 1992 and, in 1997, was named Assistant Adjutant General for Air, serving as the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard. He retired in 1999. During his service, Dalton earned the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, among other awards and decorations.

While not on active service, Dalton worked as vice president and general manager for Valmac and was active in the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association. He married Patricia Lee Murphree in 1989 and had two sons, two daughters, and several step-children.

A resident of Mayflower (Faulkner County), Dalton died on January 19, 2015. He is buried in the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in North Little Rock (Pulaski County).

For additional information:
National Guard Bureau, General Officer Management Office. “Brigadier General Donald Dalton.” February 2001. http://www.nationalguard.mil/portals/31/Features/ngbgomo/bio/3/347.html (accessed December 2, 2017).

David Sesser
Henderson State University

Last Updated 12/2/2017

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