Sutliff was born May 11, 1919 in Blackwell, Oklahoma to parents Cloyd L. Sutliff and Edna R. (née Hughes) Sutliff. In 1937, he was the Oklahoma High School Wrestling Champion.
On June 9, 1941 enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet with serial number 18051459. Sent to Gardner Field in California for flight training as a pursuit pilot. Commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-433748. On December 1, 1941 he was scheduled to be transfered to Wheeler Field but suffered a knee injury and did not deploy until March 1942.
During April 1942 sent to Australia and assigned to the 5th Air Force, 49th Fighter Group, 7th Fighter Squadron as a P-40 Warhawk pilot based at Batchelor Field near Darwin. During September 1942 began operating from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer Drome) near Port Moresby in New Guinea.
On September 28, 1942 force landed a P-40E Warhawk 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, 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 unsuccessful search mission for P-47D Thunderbolt 42-22681.
On October 22, 1944 took off piloting P-70A Havoc 42-54161 on a flight from Port Moresby bound for Nadzab Airfield and went Missing In Action (MIA) in the Mount Albert Edward area of the Owen Stanley Range.
Sutliff was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He earned the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and Air Medal. Sutliff is memorialized at Manila American Cemetery on the tablets of the missing.
Delmar W. Meade (cousin of Don L. Sutliff)
"My cousin, Capt. Donald L. Sutliff."
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - 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
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Don L. Sutliff
FindAGrave - Capt Don L Sutliff (tablets of missing)
Thanks to Delmar W. Meade and Edward Rogers
for additional information and research