August 23, 2022: David C. Schilling

U.S. Army Air Corps Veteran David C. Schilling is today’s Veteran of the Day.
Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is U.S. Army Air Corps Veteran David C. Schilling, who served as an aviator during World War II.

David C. Schilling was born in December 1918 in Leavenworth, Kansas. Before joining the military, he attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air corps in August 1939, received his pilot’s wings in May 1940; he joined the 56th Fighter Group and saw action in the European Theatre of World War II.

As a fighter pilot flying a P-47 Thunderbolt, Schilling engaged in 132 combat sorties. During these, he achieved 22.5 air victories. He achieved recognition as a flying ace in December 1944. He downed five German aircraft in a single mission that involved over 100 fighter planes during the Battle of the Bulge. He was the eighth most decorated American pilot of World War II.

On April 9, 1944, while escorting a bombing raid over German-controlled territory, Schilling and another fighter became separated from the rest of the squadron. He and his wingman were soon intercepted by a group of approximately 30 German fighters. Despite the overwhelming odds, he took the initiative and headed straight for the German formation, intending to attack. Although his aircraft took significant damage during the aerial fight, he was able to down two enemy aircraft and successfully escape the ambush.

For these actions, Schilling received the first of two Distinguished Service Crosses. His other medals and awards include a Distinguished Flying Cross with eight Oak Leaf Clusters and an Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster. After World War II, Schilling continued a career in aviation, being the first person to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in a jet-powered fighter aircraft. He was also the first person to pilot a jet-powered aircraft non-stop from England to the United States.

Schilling died in 1956 at the age of 37 in an automobile accident in Suffolk, United Kingdom, and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

We honor his service.

Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Writer: Jack Patterson

Editors: Nathaniel Scott, Theresa Lyon

Researcher: Giacomo Ferrari

Graphic Designer: Kiki Kelley

By DME Interns

Share this story

Published on Aug. 23, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.7 min.

Views to date: 441

One Comment

  1. J Roberts August 23, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    The former Schilling AFB located near Salina, Kansas was named in honor of Colonel David C. Schilling on 16 March 1957.

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Marine Corps and Army Veteran Dominic J. Hall, who served in Japan and in Afghanistan.

  • John Thurman served in the Marine Corps during World War II, fought on Iwo Jima and saw the famous flag raising on Mount Suribachi.

  • Edward Carter Jr. was one of the few African Americans to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions during World War II.