Donald J. Lipsi

Donald J. Lipsi

Donald J. Lipsi, 92, of Danbury, husband of the late Bernadette (Nash) Lipsi, died on Thursday, November 12, 2015. Mr. Lipsi was born in Danbury, June 25, 1923, a son of the late Antonio and Rose (Arnone) Lipsi. He attended Danbury schools and graduated from Danbury High School in 1941, the last class to graduate prior to World War II.

Don Lipsi enlisted in the US Marines, January 1943, and received recruit training at Parris Island. Upon graduation he was sent to Jacksonville Naval Air Station Florida for schooling as AMM (aviation machinist mate). There he graduated with PFC rating and also served several weeks on a Marine Corps drill team. He was then assigned to headquarters squadron at Cherry Point N.C. as part of the Air-Sea rescue team. Several weeks after being promoted to Corporal he was assigned to a newly formed Corsairs Fighter Squadron where he was promoted to sergeant and plane captain.

Don’s Marine Air Group was sent to Mohave Air Station in Mohave California for advanced training after which they were sent to Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego for overseas assignment as replacements for air groups in the Pacific. While there, they took part in the Marshall Islands campaign. They proceeded to land on the island of Majuro where their chief duties were to keep the four surrounding Japanese islands pinned down, allowing the main shipping channels to Australia to remain open and free of Japanese warships, planes and submarines. Here he was promoted staff sergeant and revetment chief.

In January of 1945, the corsairs were supposed to take off to participate in the battle of Okinawa, with Don’s group following behind in C47’s but the corsairs never showed. Several days later a squadron of Curtiss Helldivers (dive bombers) arrived and they were assigned to them as a dive bomber squadron. Being short of gunners, Don was given all of ten minutes of instruction and made a rear gunner in addition to plane captain.

In July of 1945 they were sent back to Pearl Harbor to prepare for the invasion of Japan, code named operation Olympic, and were assigned as part of the 20th Army. While in preparation to board the AKA in August for the invasion of Japan, the Japanese surrendered. They then were sent to China to disarm and return the 250,000 Japanese North China army home. While in transit they were hit by typhoon Louise off Okinawa where the Navy lost 29 ships due to the severity of the storm. What saved his ship were the several hundred barrels of high octane aviation gas in their hold.

Upon sailing up the Yangtze River the Japanese cut loose several mines in the river, forcing Don’s squadron to turn around and head for the port of Tsingtao. The Japanese then rolled out heavy cannons on railroad tracks in the rocky cliffs lining the channel but pulled them back when carrier planes threatened to bomb them. The Japanese army in China did not surrender until November of 1945. At that point, the Americans found themselves in the middle of a civil war between the Nationalistic army of Chiang Kai-Shek and the communist forces of Mao. Though they were not at war with the communist they fought several battles with them as their supply lines continued to be attacked. Don’s squadron lost several planes and men but you will not find books or information on them.

Upon Donald's return from World War II in 1946, Donald attended Mount St. Mary’s College under the GI Bill of Rights where he received his Bachelor of Science degree. He later received his Master’s degree from Western CT State University and a Sixth Year degree in administration from the University of Connecticut. He taught school for 35 years in the Danbury school system and retired in 1989.

Active in the Danbury community, Mr. Lipsi was a former member of the Danbury Common Council and Zoning Board. A life member of the Padanaram Hose Co. he was also a former member of the Danbury Council of Volunteer Fire Companies, the Catholic War Veterans, Marine Corps. League, Amerigo Vespucci Lodge, CT Teachers Association and of St. Joseph Parish of Danbury.
Donald enjoyed bocci, bowling, playing cards, watching sports, traveling, and supporting the UCONN Women Huskies.

He is survived by two daughters, Sharon Riddle and her husband, Tom of Marlboro, Massachusetts, and Kathleen Klockenbrink and her husband, Anthony of Princeton, New Jersey; two sons, Tony of Danbury, CT and Don of San Francisco, California; two sisters, Justine Erdmann and Louise McDevitt, both of Danbury and five grandchildren, Jennifer, Stephanie, Michael, Emily and Matthew.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at 10 a.m. in St. Joseph Church, Danbury.
Interment will follow in St. Peter Cemetery.

The family will receive friends in the Jowdy-Kane Funeral Home, 9-11 Granville Ave., Danbury on Monday, November 16, 2015 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Contributions in Donald's memory may be made to the Donald J. Lipsi Scholarship Fund, Catholic War Veterans, 2 Shalvoy's Lane or to the Amerigo Vespucci Lodge Scholarship Fund, 10 Christopher Columbus Dr., both of Danbury, CT 06810.

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