More detail on this person: LTC Donald Raymond Gerber Sioux City Journal, July 27, 2008 ALTON, Iowa -- Lt. Col. Donald Raymond Gerber, 83, formerly of Alton, passed away July 7, 2008, in Phoenix, Ariz. Memorial services will be in November in National Memorial Cemetery at Phoenix, with military honors conducted. [Note the service was held instead at Lake Pleasant State Park; ashes distributed on Colorado Plateau, AZ] Born in Sioux City on July 14, 1924, Donald "Skippy" was raised by his maternal grandparents, Herman and Frances (Ferguson Heine) Gerber. After graduating from St. Mary's Academy in Alton, he was sworn into the U.S. Marines at age 17 in June 1942, and received basic training in San Diego, Calif. His post-high school education included extensive military training and a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Arizona State University. Following "boot camp" at MCRD San Diego, Donald participated in combat operations in the South Pacific during World War II, and in Korea and Vietnam. He served as the radar chief at Engebi Atoll (1944-45), and participated in the invasion of Okinawa in 1945. Promoted just before his 20th birthday, he was, at one time, the youngest master sergeant in the Marine Corps. He was in charge of the radar base on Iheya-Shima, the last American position attacked by Japanese planes in World War II. After VE Day, Don fulfilled a lifelong dream of being a "China Marine" when he served with a night fighter squadron, VMF(N)-533 at Peking (1946-47). With the coming of the Chinese Revolution in 1949, he became an advanced electronics instructor in Memphis (1950-52). After a competitive selection process, he led a highly technical Special (nuclear) Weapons Assembly Team at Sandia Base in Albuquerque, N.M. (1952-55) and later served with VMFA-251 in South Korea (1955-56). After 14 years of enlisted service, Don was commissioned a limited duty officer. Rising from enlisted to officer ranks earned him the title of "mustang," an honor among his fellow Marines. His officer assignments included a joint service tour as chief nuclear weapons instructor. He was the avionics officer for MAG 36 in Phu Bai, Republic of Vietnam (1968-1969) and participated in the Marines' heroic defense of Hue City, a short distance away. After his combat tour in Vietnam, Donald transferred to Washington, D.C., and served as the senior avionics officer for the Marine Corps (1969-72). After 30 years of service, Don retired in August 1972 to Sand Point, Idaho. His military decorations include Bronze Star with Combat "V" for valor, Joint Services Commendation Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Vietnam Honor Medal 1st Class. He was a life member of the Marine Corps Avionics Association, the Marine Corps Mustang Association and other veterans organizations. Donald married Nell Scott Wagstaff in May 1950 in Hernando, Miss., and had sons, Michael H., Donald H. and Terry F. Gerber. Don and Nellie were married for 22 years until her death in 1972. In April 1973, he married Wanda Luken Horstman, formerly of Sioux City, in Phoenix, and they were together 25 years until Wanda's death in 1998. He married Doris Brown Weimer on his birthday in July 1999 in Phoenix, and they were married almost nine years. He occasionally visited his hometown area and kept in touch over the years with his favorite nuns at St. Mary's. Don will be remembered as a courageous Marine, a devoted husband and a father who loved his sons and stepsons equally. He is survived by his wife, Doris of Phoenix; sons, Michael (Beth) Gerber of Altamonte, Fla., Terry (Nancy) Gerber of Phoenix; stepsons, Kevin Horstman (Corolla) of Tucson, Ariz., Nicholas (Colleen) Horstman of Kirkland, Wash., and Gregg (Charlotte) Horstman of Melbourne, Fla.; stepsons, Don (Dana) Weimer of Santa Barbara, Calif., Kevin (Jodie) Weimer of Glendale, Ariz., and Rodney Weimer of San Francisco; a stepdaughter, Deborah McCarty of Seattle; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Don was preceded in death by wife, Nellie; wife, Wanda; and a son, Donald H. Gerber in 1999.
Burial information: Cremated, ashes scattered on Colorado Plateau, AZ
This information was last updated 11/29/2017
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Date posted on this site: 11/02/2023
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