Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... Captain Donald F. Milligan, USN - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

Coronado’s “Avenue Of The Heroes” ... Captain Donald F. Milligan, USN

by Mary Jane Clements | Posted: Friday, July 5, 2019 11:12 am

Captain Donald F. Milligan was born Oct. 23, 1924, in Detroit, Michigan. His family subsequently relocated to Salem, Ohio, where Milligan grew up. He was the second child of Howard and Margaret Milligan. He and his three siblings were a close-knit family which became the anchor for all of them as they navigated life in the Great Depression. While in high school Milligan worked as a soda jerk in the local pharmacy and as a line spotter at Salem High School football games and track meets. At one such track meet, he was able to witness, in person, the great Jessie Owens, who was participating that day. He also raised chickens to sell to local hotels and restaurants to add to the family income. He graduated from Salem High School in 1942.

In March of 1943, Milligan enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on the USS Amesbury (DD-66), a destroyer escort in the North Atlantic. He was selected for the V-12 Officer Training Program and entered Denison University in July 1944. He transferred to the University of Kansas in July 1945, graduating in 1947 and was commissioned an Ensign on June 16, 1947. He met and married Patricia Taylor of Coronado in 1950.

In his early naval career, Milligan served on USS Iowa (BB61), USS Badoin Strait (CVE 116) and USS Lenawee (APA 195). He graduated from the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School in 1953. He then served on the staff of Destroyer Squadron THREE, was Aide to the Commandant, THIRTEENTH Naval District and was Executive Officer of USS John A. Bole (DD 755). In September 1959, he took command of USS Leader (MSO 490), the first of his five commands at sea. He graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College in 1962, served on the staff of the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School and then assumed command of USS Hopewell (DD 681) in 1964. He took command of Destroyer Escort Squadron SEVEN in 1965, which split its time between Subic Bay, Philippines, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. After serving in the Defense Communications Agency (DCA) in Washington, D.C., Milligan returned to sea as commanding officer of USS Nashville (LPD 13) in 1971 and then assumed command of Destroyer Squadron SEVEN in San Diego in 1972. His decorations included Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (Combat “V”), Gold Star in lieu of 2nd award, World War II Victory Medal, United Nations Medal, Korean Service Medal (2 Stars), and Vietnam Service Medal (4 Stars).

Milligan retired from the U.S. Navy in 1975, returning to Coronado having served in three wars, commanded three ships and two squadrons. He always described himself as a “ship driver” and a “West Coast Sailor.” He loved Coronado and wouldn’t have retired to any place else. He continued to serve his community in a variety of ways. He volunteered in the Crime Prevention Office of the Coronado Police Department, ran for a seat on the school board, hosted a high school foreign exchange student, supported the Fourth of July celebration, was a Deacon at Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the Coronado Men’s Golf Club and was a member of the National Sojourner Masonic veterans’ group.

Milligan passed away on Aug. 21, 2009 and his wife Pat passed away Oct. 2, 2007. He is survived and deeply missed by his four daughters. Mary Jane (Neal) Clements of Coronado. Joanne (Geoff) Dawson of Kilcoy, Queensland, Australia. Molly (Brad Phillips) Milligan of Pacific Palisades, California and Janet (Jeff) Milligan-Lee of Coronado. He leaves twelve grandchildren: Cari Clements Inserra, Erin Clements Enrico, Neal W. Clements, III, Liz Dawson Lloyd, Tricia Dawson Riddle, Julia Dawson, Ariel Phillips, Ellis Phillips, Alice Phillips, Janine Lee, Jake Lee and Joe Lee and ten great-grandchildren.