Don Zupan, B-17 Aerial Gunner, 8th AF, 379 BG, 526 Sq., ex-POW

Donald J. Zupan, Sgt., Aerial Gunner, Ball Turret, 379th BG, POW, (in the ETO) and PTO, B-29 Tail Gunner
"Flew coastal and anti-sub patrol over the Atlantic and Carribean. No sub, one whale. Summer 1943 to overseas combat training crew, Rattlesnake AAB, Pyote, TX. Formed crew, flew to England, 8th Air Force, 379th Bomb Wg., 526th Bomb Sqdn. Shot down on 26th mission. POW. Escaped into Switzerland, Jul 1944." (From Air Expo 2002 Heroes and Legends event program.)
Don gave videotaped presentations regarding his Missions over Japan, (Sep. 2001: 16 min.)
and also later about the Occupation of Japan (2002).
Don was a Past President of the 8th AFHS-Mn.
 
The following are some biographical notes furnished by Glenn Shull (who worked with Don).
 
"Don or "ZUP" was born and raised in Seattle,WA.

During high school he was in the National Guard. In 1940 during his senior year at summer camps he was assigned to a gun crew and got a chance to fire this weapon.

After graduation from High School, he enlisted in the Army on December 8, 1941 because of the Pearl Harbor bombing. He knew war was imminent, and joining up was the right thing to do.

The Army said, 'because of your prior service and experience with weapons, you will be needed in the Army Air Force.'

So off he merrily went to various bases for training as a gunner. He did not have to go through boot training because he was considered to have had prior service. He was lucky.

After being assigned a crew on the B-17, he was on coastal duty in a B-17 on the eastern coasts of lower Florida, Cuba, and further south -- on patrols and sub hunting until 1943.

He said he "shot at a would be sub," but it turned out to be a whale. That was the only time he had so called "combat duty" during that tour.

Later when they were assigned an upgraded B-17 and a different mission, they were sent overseas via Newfoundland, Ireland, and Wales to participate in the war over Germany. He did his 25 missions requirement and signed up to do another 25 or 30.
Thus the video.
Video
After the war, he was a crew member on a B-29. He spent 4000 hours and years in SAC on the

B-52 and RB-47.

The bases that he was stationed at were Forbes, Wright Patterson, Puerto Rico, and Minot ND and flew into many bases overseas.

He retired out of Minot after 27.5 years Active Duty in 1968, to take a job in Minneapolis with Univac.

After full retirement he had his own vending machine Co.

He belonged to the Air Force Association, 8th Air Force Historical Society, spoke to kids in schools about his military activities, volunteered at many Air Shows, and was a volunteer most of his retirement years.

Don was the father of 2 daughters and 2 sons, and his lovely wife Barbara lives in Shakopee.

His humor is very much missed by all those who knew him.

His favorite and most used expression was "He was always lucky."

 
_____________________
TAPS - June 24, 2008
Zupan, Don J, 85, of Shakopee, MN. Wife, Barbara. Don was a WWII ball turret gunner on B-17. Was a POW, ending his career as a tail gunner on B-52. He served 27 years, retiring in 1968. Don was with the 55th in late 50’s or early 60’s. (worked A & E in the 55th)
From: Barbara Zupan, Shakopee, MN
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