National Native American Heritage Month – Commander Donald Winchester, USCG Pilot

In 1966, Donald Winchester became the first known Native American graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) in New London, Connecticut. (Janet Emerson, USCGA’s class of 1988, was the first known female Native American to graduate from that institution.) Of Cherokee descent, Winchester was also the Coast Guard’s first known Native American aviator. 

Winchester served in the Coast Guard for two decades, logging more than 5,000 flight hours in various types of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. A decorated pilot, he retired from the Coast Guard with the rank of commander. For more information on Commander Donald Winchester and other Native American trailblazers in the U.S. Coast Guard, please check out

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