Colonel David Everson - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

September 4, 1931 - January 11, 2024

Colonel David Everson, USAF, Ret.

David Everson was born in Brainerd, Minnesota on September 4 th 1931 to Naomi and Albin Everson. Naomi was the daughter of Swedish immigrants and Albin was the son of Norwegian immigrants. David grew up on Cedar Lake between Aitkin and Deerwood during the Great Depression and the Second World War. He enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard while attending Aitkin High School and was trained as a radio repairman. He was called to active duty during the Korean War and served stateside. Upon discharge, he attended the University of Minnesota, Duluth and joined the Air Force ROTC. While a student, he met and married
Karlene Carpenter, the daughter of an Iowa farmer who had moved to the Aitkin area. Their first child, DeAnn, was born in Duluth while he waited to begin his active duty.

He achieved his dream of becoming a pilot and began his career flying F-86 fighters at Seymour-Johnson AFB in North Carolina. His sons David and Daniel were born there. He rapidly progressed to flying F-100s and then F-105s. His next assignment was with the 80th Fighter Squadron at Itazuke Air Base in Fukuoka Japan where he was assigned to nuclear alert duty and spent much of his time at the nuclear alert pad at Osan AB, South Korea. His next assignment was to McConnell AFB in Kansas where he was a tactics instructor. He was selected for Wild Weasel training in 1966. This specialized mission was focused on destroying
surface-to-air missile sites. In the fall of 1966 he reported to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base to begin his one-year tour.

On March 10th ,1967, he led an attack on a SAM site defending the Thai Nguyen steel mill north of Hanoi. He and his wingman made the first attack on the target and were hit by anti-aircraft artillery fire. He and his Electronic Warfare Officer were forced to eject and were immediately captured while his wingman escaped with a badly damaged plane. His second element lead, Major Meryl Dethlefsen completed the attack and received the Medal of Honor for the action.

David endured six years as a POW. During the first three years of imprisonment, he was starved, beaten, and isolated in solitary confinement. He was forced to sign false confessions, participate in propaganda stunts, and to appear against his will in interviews and news stories conducted by hostile countries. His second three years were less onerous but still difficult. He was released on March 4th , 1973 at the conclusion of the US participation in the war.

Upon his return, he was selected to attend the USAF Air War College in Mongomery, Alabama and then went through T-38 training to renew his flying skills. He was assigned to Nellis AFB, Nevada where he was trained to fly the F-111 fighter bomber. Upon his promotion to Colonel in 1975 he was given the job of running an analysis team as part of the ACEVAL/AIMVAL project. He held this role until his retirement from active duty in 1978.

His wife, Karlene, died in 1980 at the age of 47 in Las Vegas. After this, David sold his home and relocated to Minneapolis to be closer to his mother. He trained to be a computer programmer and was hired by the St. Paul Companies where he worked until his final retirement. At his 50th Aitkin High School reunion Dave became reacquainted with fellow classmate Jean McDonald Elmeer. They were dear friends for six years until Jean passed away in 2004 of cancer. He died on January 11th, 2024 in Lakeville, Minnesota at the age 0f 92. He is survived by his children: DeAnn (Doug), David (Leslie), and Daniel (Lissa). Dave may not have been the Grandpa to roll on the floor and play but he loved his granddaughters, Christa, Jessica, Allison and Emily. And he was especially pleased to have met the first three of his greatgrandchildren, Elin, Maxwell and Aidan.

Memorials may be directed to the Red River Valley Fighter Pilot Association.


  1. Rick Fulton says:

    Prayers for family…. A huge thank you to a true hero….

  2. Don N says:

    What a wonderful tribute. God bless.

  3. Brian Kempster says:

    Prayers for his eternal rest and peace. Our thoughts and condolences are with all of you. Rest in peace.

  4. Leanna Kennedy says:

    So sorry for your loss, Everson family, he was a true American hero. My prayers for peace are with you all.

  5. Marti Hildebrandt says:

    What a remarkable life! So grateful for his sacrifices for our country. The fact that he returned from his years as a POW and was able to continue his life and have his loving family around him is truly a testament to his character and strength. Our thoughts are with you all through this difficult time. May his courage and love of family rest in your hearts.

  6. Ellen Clingingsmith says:

    Deann, Doug, Jessica, Christa.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you at this difficult time. Dave was such a great man. He would make me laugh every time I saw him. He served our country and he was truly a giver to many in his life. He loved his family and always was so proud of each one of you.
    He will certainly be missed by many.
    I want to extend my condolences to each of you as I am in South Texas and will not be able to attend his services. Please know my heart is sending each of you huge big hugs and prayers for your hearts to heal soon.
    Always with your family ….. Ellen

  7. Wendy Johnson says:

    Deepest sympathy to the Everson family in the loss of Dave who was a true American hero. He was in the prayers of so much of Aitkin during his years as a POW. We watched with pride when he returned home. May your memories give you comfort at this difficult time,
    Terry and Wendy Johnson

    • DeAnn Everson says:

      Thank you Terry and Wendy! We will be doing internment sometime in July and will post on Facebook. I think we are friends on Facebook, if not send me a request!

  8. Bob & Cindi Szeimies says:

    Thank you for your service Dave, you were a strong human and America Hero! So grateful you were able to carry out the rest of your life with family!

    Our hearts and prayers are with all of the family!
    Embrace the fond memories the life shared by all! We love you!!

  9. Eli Hildreth says:

    So here’s a nickel on the grass to you, my friend, and your spirit, enthusiasm, sacrifice and courage – but most of all to your friendship. Yours is a dying breed and when you are gone, the world will be a lesser place. Cleared West Climb Unrestricted. ~ Cave Putorium

    • Everson DeAnn says:

      Save a fighter pilots as$! I love that song! other than all these (profane) fighter pilot songs stuck in my brain, I am a perfectly normal (?) grandma…. Thank you so much for your thoughts and memories of my dad, DeAnn Everson

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