Last Name:   
Rodewald
Picture

First Name: 
Donald L.
Nickname:  
Rode
Born/Died  
Sept 7, 1918 to Sept 16, 2002
Hometown:
Baraboo, WI
Squadron:
1st Squadron, Adam & Eves
Position: 
Armorer
Victories
 
Decorations:
Bronze Star, Presidential Unit Citation, Flying Tigers Award, Daedalians Distinguished Achievement Award
Pre AVG:
Donald Rodewald launched his aviation career early when he took his first airplane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor.  He was hooked on flying and earned his private pilots license at age 16.  After a year of college, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and graduated from their Aircraft Armament School in 1939.
AVG Service:

While at Selfridge Field, MI, Rode heard about the recruitment of personnel to the AVG for China service and promptly joined.  Rode worked through difficult conditions, like other other armorers, to keep the limited number of P-40s combat ready until the Flying Tigers were officially disbanded in July, 1942.

Post AVG, WWII:
Rode volunteered for service in China for another five months with the U.S. Army's 75th Fighter Squadron of the 23rd Fighter Group before returning home to start his own Army flight training.  First, an armament test pilot at Eglin Field, FL, Rode went back to China but this time as a combat fighter pilot in the 75th Fighter Squadron.  Before coming home he would serve as Operations Officer at Kiagwan Field in Shanghai.
Post War Career:
Rode continued his Air Force career after the war by testing weapons at Eglin, AFB and later as Research & Development Officer at the Pentagon.  He furthered weapons development on combat tours with the F-86 in Korea where he tested new guns and gunsights.
A crash landing on instrument approach in 1954 left Rode a paraplegic.  However, he continued his aviation career as a civilian with Lockheed Aircraft until his retirement in 1974.
Rode revived his flying career while in retirement when a new device made flight possible for paraplegic pilots.  With the device, a Piper Comanche 260, a lot of flying skill and courage, Rode became the world's first paraplegic to attain solo, around the world flight in 1984.
Although he chose Lake City, CO to retire and use as his base for flying his plane around the country, he also resided in Fairfield, CA where he died.
Flying Tigers Home Page / Tigers' Tales & FAQ / Books and Articles / Web Editor's Page
Photo Gallery / Tiger News & Announcements / Flying Tiger Memorabilia / Curtiss P-40 Fighter / Rosters and Biographies