David Simmons, 85, died peacefully on April 19, 2008 at his home in Ridgecrest, Calif. Memorial service will be held on May 17, 2008 at 11 a.m. in the Holland and Lyons Chapel. A reception is planned for 1 p.m. that day at the Santiago Ridgecrest Estates' Club House.
David Simmons was born in Wisconsin, but grew up in Cherokee. After graduating from Cherokee High School, he enlisted in the Army as an Aviation Cadet.
He completed Army Basic Training , and then went on to flight training, earning his Pilot's Wings in December of 1943. He completed his Advanced Multi-engine Pilot Training at Ft. Sumner, N.M. Following this accomplishment, he returned to Cherokee and married Wilma Pierce.
After their marriage, David and Wilma moved to Merced, Calif. where David was initially assigned to be a Flight Instructor. However, shortly thereafter, he was deployed overseas, and sailed to Europe on the ship Il de France.
He reported for duty as a B-26 pilot with the 344th Bomb Group, 9th Air Force Division, and arrived just in time for the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge. David was initially stationed at Cormeilles-en-Vexin, and then was transferred to Florennes, Belgium, where he was stationed until VE Day, flying combat bombing missions over Germany. In July, 1945, he was sent to Schleissheim, Germany, north of Munich, and served there for a year as a pilot in the Army of Occupation. David was honoribly discharged from active duty in the summer of 1946.
Under the GI Bill, David attended the University of Iowa, earning his degree in Electrical Engineering in 1950. He was a member of two engineering honors fraternities, Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu.
After graduation, David and Wilma Simmons moved to China Lake, California, to the Naval Ordnance Test Station (NOTS) where he began work as a GS-5 Electrical Engineer. During his 31-year career at China Lake, he attended UCLA to obtain an advanced degree, served as a Branch Chief, and as Head of the Telemetry Division.
He was responsible for the design, operation, and maintenance of aircraft range instrumentation, and did aircraft instrumentation installations for weapons tests. He was also responsible for the procurement, operation, and maintenance of the telemetry units used in the development of the AIM9C Sidewinder. He designed ground recording equipment that digitized telemetry data onto film for later analysis. He played a key role in the decisions leading to the second-source production for the Sparrow Missile as well.
David enjoyed working as a carpenter and set builder for China Lake's "Backyard Players" where he was involved with 10 of the stage productions under the leadership of Steve and Colleen Lee. He spent many hours composing "Letters to the Editor" of both the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Independent. He also enjoyed fishing, playing golf and spent two years of his retirement working as a consultant for COMARCO. He was also very active in several internet discussions groups, and was recently acknowledged by his peers as one of their most articulate, persuasive and intelligent contributors.
David was preceded in death by his parents and older sister, Eleanor.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Wilma Simmons, his son William Simmons of San Bernadino, Calif., and his daughter, Anne Arroyo, of Elk Grove, Calif. He is also survived by his two grandsons, Casey Simmons of Reno, Nev. and Ian Hamilton.