Sutliff was born in Blackwell, Oklahoma and was the 1937 Oklahoma state High School Wrestling Champion.
He joined the USAAF during June, 1941, and was sent to Gardner Field in California for training. He was scheduled to transfer to Wheeler Field on December 1, but was delayed because of a knee injury and missed the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941.
During March 1942 he arrived at Wheeler Field. Sent to Australia during April, he was assigned to the 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron flying P-40 Warhawks at Batchelor Field near Darwin until September 19, 1942 when they moved north to New Guinea.
Next, he began flying missions from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer Drome) near Port Moresby.
On September 28, he force landed a P-40 near Hood Point and returned to duty (details unknown).
On November 22, 1942, took off piloting P-40E Warhawk 41-5610 following air combat with A6M Zeros, Sutliff bailed out over Wairopi. Finding friendly locals, he was taken to Anglican missionary Reverend Romney Gill and remained with him for sixteen days recovering, then returned to Port Moresby.
On February 6, 1943 combat over Wau, he claimed a Ki-43 Oscar shot down but was damaged and bailed out of P-40K 42-45964 but returned to duty two days later.
On May 14, 1943 he flew a combat mission over New Britain.
During August, 1943, he returned to the United States to attend command school.
Afterwards, during January 1944 he returned to Australia and married Gloria Eileen Gray from Sydney.
Second Tour of Duty
Promoted to Captain, he was assigned to Headquarters, 5th Fighter Command.
During early August 1944 Sutliff flew an unsucessful search mission for P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22681.
On October 22, 1944 he piloted P-70 42-54161 that went missing in action a flight between Port Moresby and Nadzab.
Awards & Memorials
Sutliff earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal.
is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Delmar W. Meade (cousin of Don L. Sutliff)
Protect and Avenge page 91-93, 112-113, 160
USAF Aerial Victory Credits - Sutliff
Blackwell Daily Tribute "Japs Suffer Heavy Air Loss I n Attempt on Wau Airdrome" Feb 8, 1943
Thanks to Edward Rogers and
Delmar W. Meade for additional information and research