Donald George Prout passed away peacefully in Santa Maria, Calif., on June 30, 2014.
Don was born on April 22, 1920, in Ogden, Utah. He graduated from Ogden High School in 1938 and Weber Junior College in Ogden with an associate's degree in pre-engineering in 1940. While attending Weber, he also graduated from the Civilian Pilot Training Program with a private pilot license. He then attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, taking courses aimed at a bachelor of arts degree in mechanical engineering.
Don married the former Agnes Jensen of Ogden, Utah, a high school classmate and sweetheart, in August 1942.
He entered the U.S. Army in January 1942 as an aviation cadet, graduated as a second lieutenant and pilot in August 1942, and was assigned to Troop Carrier Command. He departed Pope Field, N.C., in January 1943 with the Second Troop Carrier Squadron, destination, Yangkai, China. With duties of pilot and operations officer, Don flew many missions across the famed “Hump” in C-47 aircraft carrying fuel, supplies, and troops from India into Burma and China. He returned to the U.S. in 1944, and was stationed at Bergstrom Air Base in Austin, Texas.
Released from the Army in April 1945, he flew with Eastern Air Lines, and then returned to complete studies for graduation from the University of Utah in 1946, receiving a bachelor of arts degree in mechanical engineering. Employment followed with Boeing Aircraft in Seattle, Wash., where he worked as a wind tunnel model design engineer.
In August 1947, he was offered and accepted a commission in the Air Force. He received a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in June 1950. He then was assigned to Headquarters USAF at the Pentagon, with duty as project officer for guided missile research and development. He served there until June 1954, with his primary project being the Falcon air-to-air guided missile. From June 1954 to September 1956, Don served as an exchange officer with the Royal Air Force in London, England. Later assignments at various locations in California included development and deployment of the Titan I and Titan II Weapon Systems and the Gemini Spacecraft. Don retired from the Air Force in April 1965.
He then worked in the aerospace industry in engineering capacities on projects, including the Viking Mars Lander and the Ground Support System for the space shuttle at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. He retired from Martin Marietta in April 1986.
Don and Agnes were longtime residents of Santa Maria. They enjoyed square dancing with the Squaws and Paws for many years. They were also active with Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, where Don served on the board, sang with the choir, and performing special music with his trumpet. An excellent musician, Don had played trumpet with many groups and dance bands in high school and college, and enjoyed performing with big bands here on the Central Coast.
Don really was one of those who made the “Greatest Generation” as great as it was.
He is survived by his son, Donald, and daughter, Cheryl, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 29 at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 4380 Orcutt Road in Santa Maria. Please donate to your favorite charity in lieu of flowers.
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