LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — World War II Veteran and former prisoner of war Dean Whitaker passed away at the age of 97 on July 14.
Whitaker was very active in the community, sharing his experience and was a regular participant in the annual POW/MIA Day Remembrance ceremonies at Nellis Air Force Base.
Born in Los Angeles, Whitaker enlisted as a bombardier in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943 and attended gunnery training at Las Vegas Army Airfield, better known today as Nellis Air Force Base.
He was assigned to Eighth Air Force and flew 20 missions over Europe in a B-17 Flying Fortress from Royal Air Force Base Nuthampstead in England.
He earned a Purple Heart for injuries sustained on his first mission, and his 20th and final mission ended when his plane was shot down over Merseburg, Germany.
Whitaker was taken prisoner and survived seven months in a POW camp before liberation by the U.S. Third Army under the command of Gen. George S. Patton in 1945.
Following the war, Whitaker returned to California where he worked as a school teacher, a firefighter, and an architect, building homes throughout Laguna Beach. He moved to Las Vegas soon after retirement.
In 2019, he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur - France’s highest award, conferred upon men and women for outstanding achievements in military or civilian life for his service during World War II.
Funeral Services will be held on Friday, July 29 starting at 11 a.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on 9270 S. Maryland Parkway.
A graveside is at will be held at 1 p.m. at Palm Eastern Mortuary on 7600 S. Eastern Ave.
A celebration of life will follow at 2 p.m. back at the LDS chapel on Maryland Parkway.
Those who are unable to attend may view the services online at the following links:
- 11 a.m. Chapel Service: https://zoom.us/j/95560835348?pwd=cFpabktMZ2YwTUl3NlBtMXEvWUJ0UT09
- 1 p.m. Graveside Service: https://www.facebook.com/Boulder-City-Family-Mortuary-105944352102682