Don was born was born July 14, 1931 in Fulton Illinois, along the Mississippi River. He has lived in Forest Park since 1967. Don was drafted at age 20 and served in the U.S. Army from 1952-1954 during the Korean War. He took his 16-week infantry basic training at Fort Riley, Kansas. During his time at Fort Riley, Don learned that there was a band school and inquired about it. Don played the cornet in high school and wanted to see if he could get involved with the band school after basic training. His sergeant encouraged him to inquire. Don soon learned that the band school needed more cornet players and it was arranged that Don would attend following completion of his basic training. After Don finished Fort Riley band school, he was sent to Fort Sam Houston 4th Army Area to be assigned to a military band. Plans were changed and Don was sent to Camp Polk, Louisiana for about 6 weeks when orders came down that more musicians were wanted in Europe. Don and a couple of other men who played different instruments were chosen to go to Camp Kilmer in New York to board a boat bound for Europe. After being on the boat for quite some time and sick most of the time, Don landed in Hamburg, Germany. The group was then transferred to another band school in Munich, Germany where they spent the next four months. Following Munich, Don was assigned to the 76th Army Band in Orleans, France from June of 1953 to March of 1954. Don’s band played daily in Orleans giving concerts in the morning and playing for different situations related to military ceremonies and European dignitaries. The band also played a few times in Paris. When that time was up, he was sent back to the U.S. to be discharged. Don felt that he contributed to the military with his musical abilities and was happy to do so. Although he never served in the combat that was part of the Korean War, Don states that some of his friends who served in combat in Korea did not make it back or came back in bad shape. Don is a member of the Savanna, IL VFW and American Legion in his hometown Fulton, IL.
Full Interview - Transcript
Interviewing, research, writing and design by Nancy Cavaretta