More detail on this person: Don E. Finney Don E. Finney, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army (ret.) passed away in Manteca, California on December 23, 1997 at the age of 70. Don Finney was born on February 24, 1927 to Charles Fenton Finney Sr. and Dorothy Leone Finney of Memphis, Tennessee. In 1945, upon graduation from Tech High School in Memphis, Don Finney enlisted in the US Army Air Forces and began his basic training at Camp Blanding, FL. After basic training he joined the Army Paratroops at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In 1946 he was sent to Sendi, Japan where he served as a paratrooper for 18 months. At the end of WWII he was transferred to Mallory Air Force Depot in Memphis, TN. where he joined the Army Air Forces Reserve and worked as a civilian draftsman until the outbreak of the Korean War. When his AF Reserve unit was activated in 1950 he transferred from the USAF Reserve to the Regular Army, and within 6 hours was on his way to Army Leadership School in Columbus, South Carolina, and then on to Officers Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon graduation in 1953, 2nd Lieutenant Finney was assigned to Camp Roberts, California, and in 1954 was promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1954, 1st Lt. Finney achieved his dream of flying by attending fixed wing flight school in Texas, and from 1955 to 1957 was a Flight Instructor at the U.S. Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama. From 1957 to 1960 1st Lt. Finney served as a fixed wing pilot with the 3rd Aviation Company in Illesheim, Germany, and in February of 1960 was promoted to Captain. Later in that year he attended helicopter flight school in Texas and then joined his family in Ft. Eustis, Virginia where they were stationed for a year. From 1961-1962 Capt. Finney was stationed at Fort Devins, Massachusetts where he received his promotion to Major. On December 17, 1962 he boarded an aircraft carrier and headed for Da Nang, Vietnam where he served as Executive Officer (XO) of the 93rd Transportation Co.(Light Helicopter) Photographs taken by Maj. Finney during this tour of duty were published in a book written by Richard Tregaskis, titled "Vietnam Diary" (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963). Maj. Finney was assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia from 1963 to 1965 where he served as Company Commander of the first company activated under Headquarters Company, 11th Air Assault Aviation Group, 11th Air Assault Division, and subsequently as S-1 of the 611th Aircraft Maintenance and Supply Battalion. The 11th Air Assault Division worked to formulate a unit that could move one-third of the division's infantry battalions and supporting units in one single helicopter lift. The test was a success and on 1 July 1965 the 11th Air Assault Aviation Group was reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Air Mobile). Maj. Finney returned to Viet Nam with the 11th Aviation Group in 1965 to prepare a new airfield and to set up air operations for the newly formed 11th Air Cavalry (Blackhorse). When Maj. Finney's second Viet Nam tour ended in 1966 he returned to California and was assigned as XO of G-4 (Logistics) at Fort Ord. In 1967 Major Finney was assigned to the 64th Engineer Battalion Corps of Engineers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where he held the position of Commanding Officer of Air Operations for the Ethiopia-United States Mapping Mission. In March of 1968 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In December of 1969 Lt. Col. Finney returned to United States where he was assigned as Transportation Officer at Oakland Army Base, California. In 1971 Lt. Col. Finney was the only Army Officer assigned to Travis AFB where he served as XO of MATCO (Military Air Traffic Coordinating Office) which controlled all of the supplies going in and out of Vietnam. From 1972 until 1974, Lt. Col. Finney was stationed in Tehran, Iran with the Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG). Upon completion of his tour he was assigned to Sharpe Army Depot in Lathrop, California where, as the Inspector General, he retired after serving his country for more than 30 years. Among his military decorations were the: Air Medal (6 oak leaf clusters) Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), WW II Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal (1 oak leaf cluster), Vietnam Service Medal (4 Campaigns), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal W/60 Device, Master Army Aviator Badge, Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam (RVN) Gallantry Cross w/Palm, and Imperial Iran Army Aviator Wings. Don Finney was a former president of the Kiwanis and a member of the First Christian Church in Manteca, CA. He loved not only flying airplanes but also building models of them and was an avid and accomplished woodworker. Lt. Col. Don E. Finney was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Fenton Finney Sr. and Dorothy Leone Finney, and by his brother Charles Fenton Finney Jr. He is survived by his wife Billie Finney of Manteca, California, and his three daughters, Donna Ryan of San Jose, CA, Tia Pachuilo of Manteca, CA, and Anita Finney of Manteca, CA; six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Burial information: East Union Cemetery, Manteca, CA
This information was last updated 11/06/2017
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 03/05/2019
Copyright © 1998 - 2019 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association