We have received some sad news about the passing of our fellow Herc Rat, Don Switzer, the technical systems expert, trainer, mentor, tall tale teller, self professed part time comedian and all round airplane good guy. Don’s granddaughter, Denise Hunda, advised there would be no memorial service for him but donations in his memory to organizations supporting dementia and Alzheimers research would be considered a very kind gesture.
As everyone who knew Don, aka PokChop, he was known for his sense of humour and his ability to take technical aircraft systems information from the text book to the trainee, whether that was a pilot new to the aircraft or a maintenance engineer who needed to understand how the aircraft systems worked. Don came to Pacific Western from the RCAF and used his skills and technical talents to influence the knowledge of every class he trained.
In the fall of 1978, a group of us went to Lockheed, in Marietta Georgia, to meet C-GHPW 387 for the first time , and learn all of the differences between the earlier L100-20-E models PWA flew and the new super stretched L100-30-H Hercules. Well it did not take long for Don to change from a mild mannered airplane enthusiast to a kid with a new toy and he was all over the airplane in no time flat. We were all impressed with this new aircraft with no paratroop doors and external ramp control, but none as enthusiastically as Don. He was proud of Pacific Western and his role in the company.
As you can see from the photo taken at the 2011 Hercules Reunion, Don always had a winning smile and a sparkle in his eye.
He will be missed by all who knew him, but his impression on all he trained, will never be forgotten.
Our condolences to June and his family.
Sincerely Stu and Knut