Donald O. Neary, Col USAF, Ret., “Headed West” on January 12, 2024.

Donald O. (D.O.) Neary, Col USAF, Ret., “Headed West” on January 12, 2024.

Colonel Donald Orman Neary “DO”, of Aurora, Colorado, aged 91 years, flew west on 12 January 2024.

D.O. was born in Denver Colorado on December 27, 1932, to Thomas William Neary & Adeline Elizabeth Neary (Persicetti).

A totally dedicated US Airman, Colorado Guardsman and a warrior to the core. A very proud father of seven children.

Raised in Lakewood Colorado where he attended and graduated from Lakewood High School in 1951. A standout athlete and competitor, he attended the University of Colorado on a football scholarship and graduated in 1955. Don married his high school sweetheart, Ada Jean Nichols, in 1955. He was commissioned by way of Air Force ROTC in 1955.

His basic flight training was accomplished at Stallings AFB and Webb AFB. He was awarded his wings on September 13, 1957. Advanced flight training was completed at Luke AFB in 1958.

While on active duty he served in the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron, flying the F-84G and the F-100. The 31st Tactical Fighter Wing and the 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron flying the F-100. The 31st Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Homestead AFB in 1962 where it had a direct role in the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962. “DO” and his family left active duty in 1965 and returned home to Colorado.

In September of 1965 “DO” joined the Colorado Air National Guard. As a result of the Pueblo Crisis, the 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated and sent to Vietnam in 1968. Flying the F-100 out of Phan Rang Air Base, he completed 239 combat missions and served as the 31st Fighter Wing Safety Officer.

During this combat tour, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with 10 devices, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with 1 device. The 120th returned to Colorado in April of 1969 and transitioned to the A-7D in 1972. While serving in the Colorado Air National Guard “DO” serving as the 140th Wing Flying Safety Officer, Wing Assistant Director of Operations, Wing Vice Commander, Wing Air Commander and Headquarters Chief of Staff.

Don’s marriage to Jean ended in divorce in 1986. Colonel Neary retired in May of 1988 after 32 years of honorable service. During this time, he flew over 6000 accident-free hours, the vast majority of this flight time in the F-100 and A-7D.

Retirement did not slow him down. An accomplished racquetball player he competed at the national level on several occasions. He and his soulmate, Neysa (McElfish), traveled the country in their RV – camping and boating along the way. Always mission driven and an absolute team player, “DO” was designated Director of the Colorado Air National Guard Historical Society and led a very successful effort to create an exhibit at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum which has helped to preserve the rich history of the Colorado Air National Guard. He also served as the Flight Captain for the Order of Daedalian Flight 18.

“DO” was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011.

“DO” is survived by his children: Gregory Neary, Audrey Buehler, Christy Oakes, Stacy Wing, Jeffrey Neary, Shelley Neary and Amy Neary. Grandchildren: Josh Koschke, Austin Oakes, Jeremy Koschke,  Brielle Oakes, Morgan Deaguero, Kendal Neary, Shawn Deaguero, Liam Neary, Brody Neary and Zoe Neary. Great grandchildren: Ella Koschke, Alorah Koschke, Nolan Koschke, Palmer Koschke and Briley Dighero.

Preceded in death by his parents, Thomas William Neary and Adeline Elizabeth Neary (Persicetti), brother, Joseph Norman Neary and Neysa Neary (McElfish).

Services with full Military Honors will be planned for the late Spring. Interment will be at Fort Logan National Cemetery, 4400 W Kenyon Ave, Denver, CO 80236.

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