JOHN HENRY DAYTON
September 1, 1922 – April 18, 2020
The memorial service and interment will be announced as soon as the current restrictions allow.
John (Johnny) Henry Dayton was born September 1, 1922, in Cowden, Ill., to Heber Ray and Signe Jeanette (Sorensen) Dayton. Johnny, one of the Greatest Generation, that flew so many missions during WWII has once again taken wing but this time to receive his heavenly reward. He passed away on Saturday, April 18, 2020, in his home in Myrtle Point, cared for by Christine, his loving wife of 14 years. He was 97 years old.
The Dayton family moved to South Dakota where his seven siblings, four brothers and three sisters, and he were raised. In the early 1940s, the family moved to Oregon where John married his first wife, Eunice (Judie) Westerberg, from S.D. Johnny lived an interesting life filled with a love of music, family, and flying, and he had an ability to tell and enjoy a good story that he willingly shared. Johnny went into the Army Air Corps when he was 20 years old with a letter reluctantly signed by his father giving him permission to enlist before he was 21 years old. He was assigned to the 451st Bombardment Group, USAAF. This was a B-24 Liberator Group that was moved to the Mediterranean Theater, November 1943. They were based in Castelluccio, Italy, and assigned to the 15th Air Force, which was established November 1, 1943, as part of United States Army Air Forces in WWII. They flew strategic missions to oil refineries, aircraft factories, airfields, marshalling yards, and other industrial targets. They were awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for missions to Regensburg on February 22, 1944, Ploesti on April 5, 1944, and Vienna on August 23, 1944. They were based in Italy through V-E Day (Victory in Europe). Lieutenant Dayton received the European Theater Ribbon with seven battle stars, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He received a Certificate of Valor from Major General Nathan F. Twining, Commanding General of the 15th Air Force and a Letter of Commendation from Colonel Leroy Stefanowicz, USAAF. Johnny completed 35 missions. Seventeen of those were flown as Lead Pilot. The 15th Air Force was deactivated in Italy on September 15, 1945. After his Honorable Discharge, he returned to Myrtle Point, and took pleasure in raising their three sons—taking part in their many activities, from Scouting, to music, and many school activities. Johnny was a decorated and honorable man. Johnny had many talents. Music was always so natural for him, both on the piano and trumpet. He began playing for dances while the family still lived in S.D. In the late 40s and early 50s, Johnny had a dance band in Ore. with his brothers and wife, Judie, and played for dances on weekends at the Coaledo Community Center between Coquille and Coos Bay. In his later years, Johnny found a hidden talent—oil painting, and painted more than 300 pictures, which he shared with family and friends or sometimes sold. He received numerous ribbons at the Coos County Fair in Myrtle Point for his paintings. He was very civic minded and served on the Myrtle Point City Council for a number of years. He worked in sales for Schroeder’s Furniture Store for many years. His mother always cherished his lunchtime breaks from Schroeder’s when he would drop by her home and sit down at her piano to play some of his sweet music from memory for her to enjoy. He also drove Schroeder’s ambulance, responding to accidents in the area. He was an ordained minister and served as lay-leader in the Myrtle Point Revised Latter-Day Saints Church for several years. He enjoyed his retirement and spent over a dozen years traveling with Judie in their motorhome. They brought their keyboard along, so they could sing and play at every campground visited.
Johnny is survived by his wife, Christine Wilbanks Dayton; sons and daughters-in-law, Kerry and Vicki Dayton of Salem, Dennis and Doree Dayton of Eugene; eight grandchildren; twelve great-grandchildren; seven great-great-grandchildren; brother and sister-in-law, Col. Roy D. Dayton and Carolyn of Oceanside, Calif.; sister Margaret R. (Peggy) Taylor of Junction City, and Lois and Svend Toftemark of Eugene; numerous nieces and nephews; step-daughters Bethany Rodriquez and family of Everett, Wash., Joanne Smith Ascensio and family of Amarillo, Texas, and Lisa Smith-Nightingale’s remaining family in Marysville, Wash.
He was preceded by his wife of 61 years, Eunice (Judie) Joy Westerberg Dayton of Myrtle Point; father Heber R. Dayton and mother Signe Dayton Bryant of Myrtle Point; son, Richard E. (Ritchie) Dayton of Myrtle Point; great-grandson, Andrew M. Dayton of Kennewick, Wash.; sister, Geneva L. Dayton of S.D.; brothers and sisters-in-law, Lt. Col. Steward R. Dayton and Dorothy of Boulder City, Nev.; Lt. Col. Richard F. (Dick) Dayton and Bettye of Marysville, Calif.; William E. (Bill) Dayton and Phyllis of Gettysburg, Pa.; step-daughter Lisa Smith-Nightingale of Marysville, Wash.
Johnny was a Christian, a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, son, brother, uncle, friend, a proud member of the Greatest Generation—and an author. In 2013, Johnny wrote the story of his life, a book, called “Better Put Your Boots On.” His book is a lasting gift to his entire family, filled with memories and experiences never to be forgotten—an example of a life well lived. God bless the memory of this special man.
Amling & Schroeder Funeral Services are entrusted with arrangements.
Friends and family are encouraged to sign the guestbook at www.theworldlink.com.