Age 90, died at home Saturday, June 23, 2012 of pancreatic cancer. David was born in Poland, Ohio on April 28, 1922 to Clyde and Dorothy Wakefield. He served as a fighter pilot in the Army Air Force during World War II in China and India as a member and flight leader of the famous Flying Tigers commanded by General Claire Chennault. On his 7th mission he was shot down behind enemy lines on Thanksgiving Day in 1944, but made it back to his home base with the help of Chinese soldiers. He was the only pilot who ever returned after being shot down in the 25th Fighter Squadron - 51st Fighter Group. David flew 47 combat missions overall while flying P-40, P-51 and P-47 aircraft. He then served as a flight instructor to Chinese pilot candidates in Karachi, India. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross along with many other medals. After WWII he continued flying with the Michigan Air National Guard, at which time he received his helicopter rating. David retired from the military in 1966 as a Senior Pilot and the rank of Major. He married Rita Barodicz on October 12, 1948. David owned an electronics business in the Detroit area for many years. He was an avid golfer and sports enthusiast. Following his retirement, David was a docent at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo for 12 years. He was named Volunteer of the Year in 2011. David was also a member of Parchment United Methodist Church. He was preceded in death by his wife of 61 years, Rita, and his son David. He is survived by his sons Richard (Mary) of White Lake MI and Patrick (Connie) of Macomb Twp. MI and his daughter-in-law Linda Wakefield of Kalamazoo; seven grandchildren, Kerry (John), Kyle, Brittany, Colin, Tyler, Samantha, and Abigail; three step-grandchildren, Shawn, Stephen and Shelby; one great-grandson, Henry; two step great-grand daughters, Madison and Lyla and his special friend Marilyn Lorentz. Cremation has taken place. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 2:00 o'clock at Parchment United Methodist Church, 225 Glendale, Parchment, MI. Pastor Michael Tupper will officiate. Memorial donations are requested in lieu of flowers to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo, www.airzoo.org. A private interment of ashes will take place in Ft. Custer National Cemetery at a later date.
Read David Wakefield's Obituary and Guestbook on www.langelands.com.