The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

Col Dion Ellsworth DeCamp

Col Dion Ellsworth DeCamp

Blackwell, Kay County, Oklahoma, USA
Death 8 Nov 2007 (aged 73)
Clark County, Nevada, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Sec: 54, Site: 5318
Memorial ID 49227229 · View Source
Suggest Edits

Colonel Dion Ellsworth DeCamp was born on August 26, 1934 in Blackwell, OK, one of two children born to Oral E. and Dorris M. DeCamp. Colonel DeCamp and Barbara, his younger sister by two years, grew up in the small town atmosphere of Blackwell. He was an Eagle Scout and an aspiring athlete, setting an Oklahoma state swimming record for the 50-Meter Freestyle in 1950. He attended Oklahoma A&M College (later Oklahoma State University) from 1951 to 1953, majoring in Industrial Engineering. In June 1956, he entered United States Air Force Aviation Cadet Primary Navigator training at Harlington AFB, Texas. A Distinguished Graduate of Class 57-16, he received the wings of a USAF Navigator and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in September of 1957. After graduation from navigator training, he was assigned to the 1501st Air Transport Wing at Travis Air Force Base, CA, where he served from 1957 to 1961. He flew on many missions over the Pacific, including serving as navigator on the C-97 crew of Hawaiian pilot Don Ho, who became a famous entertainer. While stationed at Travis, Colonel DeCamp was selected to attend Undergraduate Pilot Training. He entered pilot training at Webb AFB, Texas in 1961, and was awarded USAF Pilot Wings in 1962, becoming one of a very select group of Air Force officers who were both navigators and pilots. Following graduation from pilot training, Colonel DeCamp was assigned the 76th Military Airlift Squadron at Charleston AFB, SC where he flew the C-130 Hercules aircraft. During this period of service as a pilot he was awarded the USAF Expeditionary Medal for Cuba in 1962, for the Dominican Republic in 1964, and for Viet Nam in 1966. In 1966, after an active duty career that provided him the opportunity to fly worldwide, including missions to many remote and exotic locations, Colonel DeCamp left the Air Force to accept a position with American Airlines. American soon called on DeCamp's unique qualifications as both a pilot and a navigator and assigned him additional duties as a navigation instructor for the airline's military contract in the Pacific. It was the beginning of a long and distinguished airline career, during which he flew the MD-80 and DC-10, and the Boeing 727, 757, and 767. He retired from American Airlines as a Captain in 1994. Colonel DeCamp paralleled his civilian airline career with one of public service as a citizen soldier pilot in the California Air National Guard. He joined the 146th Air Transport Wing, Van Nuys, California in 1967. The unit was flying C-97 transport aircraft but upgraded to the newer C-130A Hercules in 1970. During the late 1960s and early 1970s the Air Guard flew many support missions across the Pacific to Viet Nam. With his active duty experience as a pilot and a navigator, he quickly became a highly respected member of the unit. Considered by his fellow aircrew members to be an exceptionally gifted aviator, his easy style and personal presence made him a natural choice for positions of military leadership. During his career in the Air Guard he served as Squadron Chief Pilot, Group Chief Pilot, Chief of Standardization/Evaluation, Base Commander and Wing Deputy Commander for Operations. He was a respected mentor who influenced a number of junior officers who would later rise to positions of senior leadership in the military. Colonel DeCamp was the senior officer responsible for the unit's Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) operations. When called upon in emergencies, the Wing converted two of its C-130 aircraft into aerial tankers capable of dropping 3000 gallons of fire retardant on wildfires. It was a dangerous mission restricted to a few carefully selected and highly trained flyers in the Wing. A hands-on leader, Colonel DeCamp personally flew as pilot in command during MAFFS operations on numerous wildfires. Colonel DeCamp received the Air Force Commendation Medal in 1970, a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from the Armed Forces Institute of Technology in 1974, and retired from the Air National Guard with the rank of full Colonel in 1980. After retiring from the airlines and the Air National Guard, Colonel DeCamp moved from Southern California to Reno, NV and began another career of public service, this time as a member of the Civil Air Patrol. DeCamp joined the Reno Composite Squadron of the Nevada Wing Civil Air Patrol in 1994. He became a fully qualified Mission Pilot, Check Pilot, Counterdrug Pilot and Cadet Orientation Pilot. He also was a Master Level Standards and Evaluation Officer and became a fully qualified Incident Commander. During his time in CAP, Colonel DeCamp received the Grover Loening Aerospace Award, the Paul E. Garber and Gill Robb Wilson Awards. DeCamp also attended numerous courses within the CAP including the Region and National Staff College, National Commanders Course and other professional development courses pertaining to his progression toward Nevada Wing Commander. Colonel DeCamp was a respected and well liked instructor and trainer for many of the CAP development courses. Positions held in the Civil Air Patrol include: Nevada Wing Director of Operations, Vice Commander, representative to the Nevada State SAR Board, and Wing Commander (March 2003 until his passing). He also held the position of the CAP Pacific Region Director of Operations Training. Among the numerous awards received by Colonel DeCamp during his CAP service were the Commanders Citation, the Meritorious Service Award, Certificate of Recognition for Lifesaving, Red Service Ribbon and Counterdrug Ribbon. Colonel DeCamp never forgot the humble beginnings from whence he came. His reputation among his family, friends and colleagues was one of an officer, gentleman and dear friend. He afforded everybody with kindness, respect and the individual dignity they deserved, and was a man of incredible depth and breadth. He embodied the strength and spirit of truth, integrity and ethical behavior in all his endeavors, inspiring others to act similarly. Colonel DeCamp never failed to celebrate and recognize the effort of others, and how that may have contributed to his success or that of the organization. DeCamp told amazing stories of his days in aviation that never seemed to get old to his listeners. He flew with celebrities such as Bob Hope and Jayne Mansfield across the Pacific on USO tours. He was an grand person to be around, with a manner that put all at ease. Friends always considered his presence at a party the mark of a successful gathering. In his leisure time over the years, he was an expert skier, marksman, hunter and equestrian. Colonel DeCamp is survived by his wife, Betsy (E.J. Smith ); son, Michael; daughters, Gail and Kristin; four grandchildren and faithful hunting dog, Scotch.



Pictures from the Dion DeCamp memorial service in Reno, Nevada

A video briefly showing Colonel DeCamp leading the Steve Fossett search - Steve Fossett memorial

Pacific Region Civil Air Patrol memorial page

Colonel DeCamp presenting awards

Family Members



AUG 26 1934
NOV 8 2007




  • Maintained by: graver
  • Originally Created by: John C. Anderson
  • Added: 5 Mar 2010
  • Find A Grave Memorial 49227229
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Col Dion Ellsworth DeCamp (26 Aug 1934–8 Nov 2007), Find A Grave Memorial no. 49227229, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by graver (contributor 47037760) .