Donald S. Snyder, LtGen USAF, Ret., “Headed West” on January 1, 2023.

Gen Snyder’s son Don sent us the following:

Donald Snyder (callsign “Pipper”) flew west in the early morning hours of the New Year.  He was 86.  Ironically, Don’s passing was nearly 55 years to the day of his shootdown over North Vietnam flying as “A2” on a Misty mission, 30 Dec 1967.  Don and Thelma have three children, five grandchildren, and one great-grandson.  Their son, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, and three grandchildren served or are serving in the military.  That family service now represents 139 years.

Don and Thelma grew up in western Pennsylvania.  Don graduated from Penn State University in 1957, and he and Thelma were married that same year.  He completed pilot training in 1959 and their Air Force odyssey began.  Their journey is similar to many others and includes numerous moves, wonderful experiences and fantastic friendships.  Don was in the fighter business his whole career, served with distinction, and retired as a Lieutenant General and vice commander of Tactical Air Command.

He and Thelma spent their retirement years back in western PA enjoying occasional travel, various community-service activities and hosting the ankle-biters as often as possible.  Don lived a full and rewarding life.  His positive attitude and friendly disposition were contagious.  When asked how he was doing, he often replied, “Straight up and climbing!”

Published obituary:

Donald Snyder, 86, of Valencia, PA, passed away peacefully on January 1, 2023, at Butler Memorial Hospital. He was born on January 26, 1936, to Louis and Emily Snyder of Carnegie.

Donald attended Carnegie High School and graduated as valedictorian. He was a 1957 graduate of Penn State University, where he earned a degree in engineering. He also enrolled in the U.S. Air Force’s Reserve Officer Training Program and was selected for undergraduate pilot training.

Don married the former Thelma Jean Bradley of Oakdale on June 15, 1957, at the Federal United Methodist Church.

He completed pilot training in 1959 with an initial duty assignment to Kadena, AB on Okinawa, Japan, flying the F-100 Super Sabre. His distinguished military career ended 35 years later when he retired as the vice commander of Tactical Air Command as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force. Numerous other duty postings included Cannon AFB, New Mexico; Luke AFB, Arizona; three combat tours in Vietnam; Montgomery, Ala.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; the Defense Special Projects Group in Washington, D.C.; Ankara, Turkey; Carlisle Barracks, Pa.; Clark AB, Republic of the Philippines; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Kunsan AB, South Korea; Bergstrom AFB, Texas; McDill AFB, Fla.; and Langley AFB, Va.; as well as countless deployments away from home. He was a Fighter Weapons School distinguished graduate, held a master’s degree in public administration, and commanded at all levels in the Air Force.

General Snyder was a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours and had flown F-4, F-5, F-15, F-16, F-100, F-104, O-1 and T-33 aircraft. His military awards included the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart and Air Medal. He was a member of the Premier Fellowship for Military Aviators, the Air & Space Forces Association, and the Super Sabre Society.

In his retirement years, Donald enjoyed community service through his church, teaching Sunday school, gardening, reading, occasional travel and spending more time with his beloved “TJ.”

Donald was a devout Christian, dedicated family man, patriot, and loyal friend. He was very proud of his children and grandchildren and was blessed to meet his great-grandson, Ethan, last fall.

Donald’s legacy is his family – who loved him immensely – and who will greatly miss the example he set, his smiling face, his sense of humor and his warm heart. He is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Thelma Jean Snyder; his son, Donald Andrew Snyder and wife, Deborah, and their two children, Thomas, 17, and Summer, 15; his daughter, Susan Darlene Iverson and husband, Robert Iverson, and their three children, daughter Shannon Zamora, 34, and husband, Steven Zamora, 35, and their son, Ethan Robert Zamora, 5 months, a son, Matthew Iverson, 29, and son, Jonathan Iverson, 21; and his daughter, Diane Marie Snyder of Gibsonia. His brother, Louis Snyder, and sister, Betty Berlingeri preceded him in death.

Interment will follow in the Butler County Memorial Park with military honors performed by the Saxonburg American Legion.

Please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross in Don’s memory.

Published by Butler Eagle on Jan. 3, 2023.



Scroll to Top