Former Air Force commander passes away

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News Article / July 10, 2019

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Lieutenant-General Don McNaughton, a former commander of Air Command, passed away June 26, 2019, in Perth, Ontario.

Lieutenant-General McNaughton commanded Air Command (now known by its historic name, the Royal Canadian Air Force) from June 1985 to August 1986.


Lieutenant-General McNaughton joined the Air Force in 1952 at the age of 18, and received his pilot wings the following year. He was employed as an instructor until 1958 when he was posted to the F-86 Sabre Operational Training Unit and subsequently to Air Division's No. 1 (Fighter) Wing at Marville, France to serve with 439 Squadron. In 1963, he was returned to Canada and sent to a flying training school at Gimli, Manitoba, as chief standards officer and then as the officer commanding of the new Tutor squadron when that aircraft was introduced in 1965.

In 1966, having enjoyed 14 years in the cockpit, he was posted to the Canadian Army Staff College in Kingston, Ontario. After his graduation, followed by two years on the staff of Mobile Command [Army] Headquarters, he returned to the College to be a member of the directing staff for three years.

Lieutenant-General McNaughton took the Kiowa course at Portage and the Huey helicopter course at Gagetown, New Brunswick, in 1972 before going to the United Kingdom to attend the Royal Air Force Air Warfare College for six months. He came back to Canada in the summer of 1973 and took command of 427 Squadron. These were the early days for the tactical helicopter squadrons. Aircrew and groundcrew were a mix of ex-Army, Navy and Air Force personnel with an aircraft complement of six Huey and eight Kiowa helicopters.

He was promoted to the rank of colonel rank after one year in command and served in a series of positions: Mobile Command again, deputy commander of 10 Tactical Air Group, deputy commander of the Canadian United Nations Contingent in the Middle East and commander of Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg. In 1978, he was appointed as director general in the Air Branch in National Defence Headquarters and served there until 1981 when he became the commander of 10 Tactical Air Group in Montreal. A year later, he was posted to Air Command as deputy commander. He served in that capacity for three years and then was appointed as commander for one year. He was then off to Colorado Springs to be the deputy commander-in-chief of NORAD for three years.

He retired in 1989 after 38 years of service and 20 family moves. He and his wife settled on a 200-acre hobby farm near Perth.

In retirement, Lieutenant-General McNaughton was active in volunteer activities and participated in various National Defence and government studies. He was a member of a government task force on military museums, honorary president of the RCAF Association and the first honorary colonel of 427 Squadron.

Lieutenant-General McNaughton had a most exciting and enjoyable career in the Canadian Armed Forces, which included flying, challenging positions and the opportunity to meet a tremendously talented group of people.


Lieutenant General Donald Malcolm McNaughton, CMM, CD

Don passed away in the Perth hospital on Wednesday June 26th, 2019. He was the loved husband of Frances (Finkle) McNaughton, cherished father and grandfather of daughter Jean (Mike) Dabros and their children Dana (Owan), Emilie (Ryan), Meg and son Ian (Kim) and their children Blair (Jocelyn), Drew (Martina) and Mary (Jacob).

He will be sadly missed by his siblings Shirley (Don) Tennant, Arthur (Marsha) McNaughton. Don was predeceased by parents Wallace and Jean (Wilson) McNaughton, siblings Keith, Melba McNaughton, Jack, Norma, Bill McNaughton, Beverly Tweedy, Alan McNaughton and niece Sharon Sills. He will be fondly remembered by sisters-in-law Kay MacNaughton, Sheila and Joan McNaughton, Christine McMillan, brother-in-law George Tweedy, sister-in-law Charlotte Kuntze and the late Elinor Eaton, many nieces, nephews, family and friends.

Lieutenant General McNaughton retired following 38 years proudly serving his country. He was the former commander of Air Command and retired as deputy commander of NORAD, Colorado Springs. The funeral service was conducted in St. Paul’s United Church in Perth with interment in the Prestonvale Cemetery. Those wishing are asked to consider memorial donations to the Great War Memorial Hospital Foundation, St. Paul’s United Church, the Parkinson Foundation Canada or the Air Cadets.


Biography: 427 Lion Squadron Association (submitted by Lieutenant-General McNaughton) (English only)

Obituary: Blair and Son Funeral Directors (English only)


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