Colonel Donald W. Swain received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from the University of New Hampshire in 1956. He played football and lacrosse during college, a period where both teams won championships. He received his commission as an ROTC distinguished graduate, and entered active duty with the United States Air Force in September 1956.
He began undergraduate navigation and advanced radar bombardier training at Harlingen AFB, TX, where he received his navigator’s wings in 1957 and was assigned to combat crew duties in B-47 Stratojets, 509th Bomb Wing, Pease AFB, NH. During this time, Colonel Swain flew over 1400 hours and served as an instructor and flight evaluator. In 1964 he was reassigned to the Air Defense Command, Otis AFB, as flight commander, logging over 1200 hours of airborne early warning and control missions.
In 1966 Colonel Swain became the Director of Intelligence, 513th Tactical Airlift Wing, USAFE, RAF Mildenhall, in the United Kingdom. In addition to staff functions, he served as a crew member on embassy support missions to Moscow and east European capitals. Colonel Swain was reassigned in 1970 to Southeast Asia in the gunship program. He flew over 60 combat missions in Northern Laos and also served as Director of Wing Intelligence for the 14th Special Operations Wing and its five forward operating locations.
Colonel Swain returned to the United States in 1971 and was assigned to the 379th Bomb Wing at Wurtsmith AFB, MI. In addition to duties as Chief of the Prediction and Interpretation Branch, Colonel Swain flew over 1000 hours as a radar navigator and instructor in B-52Hs. He was then reassigned in 1974 to Headquarters SAC, Offutt AFB, NE, as Chief of the Contingency Support Branch. In 1977 he was selected as Commander, 544th AIS, Target Analysis Squadron. After promotion to colonel in October 1978, he returned to the intelligence staff at HQ SAC. In May of 1979 Colonel Swain was selected to serve as the Vice Commander of the 544th Strategic Intelligence Wing.
The following year, Colonel Swain was transferred to Lowry AFB, CO, where he assumed command of the 3420th Technical Training Group, then the 3400th Technical Training Group in 1981. In June 1984 he was reassigned to Headquarters, Air Force Intelligence Service (AFIS), Fort Belvoir, VA, as Director of the Intelligence Reserve Forces. Subsequently, Colonel Swain assumed duties as Assistant Vice Commander, AFIS. As a highlight of his military career, he was selected as Wing Commander of the 3400th at Lowry AFB, CO.
After 29 years of dedicated service, Colonel Swain retired from the Air Force in 1985 with over 4,000 flying hours and numerous military decorations. His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Air Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters.
After retirement Colonel Swain spent 15 years in a senior role with Lockheed Martin working with national intelligence agencies. He also put the lacrosse skills he once honed at UNH to good use by helping to establish and coach varsity lacrosse programs at Virginia high schools. He is also a member of the Kiwanis club and Director of the Governor’s Land Foundation.
For outstanding service to the United States Air Force, Colonel Donald W. Swain is inducted into the ROTC Hall of Fame.