Dilver A. Paustian

1923 - 2008


Their Story

Dilver A. Paustian was born on the 13th of April 1923 to Chris and Lanora Paustian in the town of Muscatine, Iowa. Two years later the family moved to Cleona, Iowa[1] where Dilver enjoyed most of his childhood, graduating from Davenport High School and working as a farmhand. Even at a young age he was drawn to the military, serving as the cadet captain of the ROTC. program at Davenport[2] as well as attending a Citizens Military Training Camp in 1940.[3]

However, no amount of early exposure to the life of a soldier could fully prepare Dilver for the events brought on by the bombing of Pearl Harbor a year later on December 7, 1941. Only 24 days passed before he was enlisted into the Army Air Corps and sent to Wichita Falls, Texas for training.[4] After a brief period, Dilver was sent to Marfa Army Air Force Advanced Flying School where he was trained in the operation of twin-engine planes. After graduating in April of 1943, the young airman was commissioned as a second lieutenant, received his wings, and was assigned to Gardner Field, Taft, California, 2,000 miles from home.[5]

That milage number would double later that year,[6] as Dilver was shipped to Kauai, Hawai’i, an assignment that, after five years of dreaming in ROTC and training in Texas, promised air combat to the degree that no amount of education is sufficient to prepare. A member of the 392nd Bomb Squadron of the 30th Bomb Group of the 7th Army Air Force,[7] Dilver completed 30 combat missions in under a year, a co-pilot of the B-24 Bomber nicknamed “Dead Eye II.” Throughout the Central Pacific Campaign, Dilver was stationed at an assortment of islands including the Phoenix, Gilberts, and Mariannas Islands, attacking surrounding Japanese outposts southeast of Japan.

For his most notable mission, Dilver launched from the airfields of the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands during February, March, and April of 1944. His crew and several other planes from the 392nd Bomb Squad aided in the attack on of the infamous Truk, a major Japanese harbor and outpost fabled as being impenetrable (now called Chuuk and capital of the Federated States of Micronesia). Its strategic location made it a preferred base for the massive carriers and battleships and a prime launch point for the air and naval assaults on American and Allied forces in their campaigns for nearby islands including those aforementioned. A plethora of over 40 high-caliber anti-aircraft guns as well was a surrounding coral reef made the conquering of the Truk Atoll as dangerous as it was important.

In the combined efforts of the U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces, the stronghold was first attacked on February 17, 1944, nicknamed operation Hailstorm. The five nearby U.S. carriers launched 72 fighter-planes toward Truk, followed by bombers from Marshall Islands and likely “Deadeye II” with Paustian in the cockpit. Over 30 Japanese fighters were shot down during that initial strike with 40 more destroyed before taking off. U.S. Bombers peppered enemy airfields, battleships, and oil storage with explosives disabling Truk’s major defenses.[8] The following nights, Dilver and other bombing crews orchestrated night raids eliminating any remaining troops dug into the trenches of Truk. After the stronghold was taken, the U.S. Navy had broken its record for most bombs dropped in a single day, deploying over 900 tons of explosives.[9]

Upon the completion of these missions, Dilver received the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross and was promoted to the rank of 1st lieutenant, just 11 months after his commission, an indication of his bravery and dedication to his country.[10] He was then sent home on leave in July of that year. Following his time in the Pacific, Dilver was sent to Liberal, Kansas where he served as a four-engine plane flight instructor until the war’s end in 1945. Shortly after, he began attending Iowa State University and married Joanne Lensch, fellow ISU student and Davenport High graduate on August 11, 1946. Dilver and his wife moved from Stockton, IA, to Kansas City where his son was born in 1953. The family then returned to Davenport where Dilver worked as an engineer until his retirement. On November 21, 2008, at age 85, Dilver Paustian died of natural causes and was buried on the nearby Rock Island Arsenal, a final testament of the vigor and devotion with which he served his country.[11]


[1]Dilver Alchrist Paustian,” Ancestry.

[2]Dilver Paustian in the U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999,” Ancestry.

Commissioned,” Quad-City Times, April 18, 1943, p. 4.

[3]Scott County Youths File Applications to Attend Citizen Camp,” The Daily Times, March 27, 1940, p. 4.

[4]Dilver Paustian Passed Physical,” Muscatine Journal, January 9, 1942, p. 8.

[5]Three Men from This Area Commissioned Second Lieutenants,” The Daily Times, April 15, 1943, p. 2.

[6]News From Our Boys,” The Daily Times, May 10, 1944, p. 9.

[7]Dilver A Paustian: Person, Pictures and Information,” Fold3.

[8]H-026-3 Truk Raid 1944,” Naval History and Heritage Command, May 3, 2019.

[9] The Battle for Truk Attol (Part 1 & 2) | Battle 360 | History (History, 2020).

[10]News From Our Boys,” The Daily Times, May 10, 1944, p. 9.

[11]Dilver Alchrist Paustian,” Ancestry.