1st Lt. Donald Barton, of Canandaigua, was named the 2019 inductee into the state Senate Veterans Hall of Fame from the 54th District.
Barton served in the Army Air Corps during World War II. He was nominated for the Veterans Hall of Fame by Adrienne O’Brien and Milan and Barbara Kutner, and he was honored at the Ontario County veterans recognition ceremony in 2018.
“The New York Senate Veterans Hall of Fame was created to honor and recognize outstanding veterans from the Empire State who have distinguished themselves both in military and civilian life,” said state Sen. Pam Helming, R-54th District. “1st Lt. Donald Barton certainly fits that description with his heroic and courageous service during WWII, as well as his tremendous leadership as a member of the ‘greatest generation.’ 1st Lt. Barton is the epitome of a veteran dedicated to his country and his community, and he is worthy of this prestigious honor.”
A college junior at the time, Barton joined the Army Air Corps Reserve after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was called up for navigation and bombardier training. He served from April 1942 to December 1945. In February-July 1944, he served as lead bombardier on 12 of 19 successful B-17 combat missions of the 457th Bomb Group, 369th Bomb Squadron, 8th Air Force. He and his crew were based in Peterborough, England.
Among his missions in occupied France were Melun, Lille and Pointe du Hoc on D-Day. A week after D-Day, on June 14, 1944, he was lead bombardier on a mission to destroy gasoline storage tanks close to the Rouen Cathedral. His skill preserved the historic cathedral, leaving it untouched. This brought him a commendation from the general of his bomber wing.
On his 20th mission, Barton was the lead bombardier of a 36-plane wing over Augsburg, Germany. His plane was shot down by Messerschmitt fighter aircraft on July 19, 1944, and four of the crew members did not survive. Barton landed on an Austrian Alp, broke both bones in one leg and dislocated his ankle. He was captured by the Germans and held captive in Stalag Luft 1 for almost a year. Toward the end of the war, he and the 9,000 prisoners there lived on a starvation diet. For his service, he earned the Air Medal with three clusters, the Purple Heart with two clusters and the Prisoner of War Medal.