If one were to write a book about Dr. Don Lubin, it would have to be called Don Lubin’s Wonderful Adventure.
His adventure began in New York in 1925 and has let him experience a plethora of activities from flying in the skies far above the earth in numerous types of aircraft to earning a college degree to having a successful 37-year career as an optometrist.
Dr. Lubin’s flying experience began in the Army Air Corps as an 18-year-old trainee. He was flying a B-24 Liberator by age 20. His service from 1943 to 1946 includes training stops in Texas, Kansas, and Arizona at Williams Field, and a short tour at Luke Air Force Base.
“I was on a flying-practice mission at Williams Field in a B-24, and we were practicing bombing runs on an overcast day using radar, which was new at the time,” Dr. Lubin said. “The day World War II ended, I was flying. It was a remarkable day and a memorable experience for a 20-year-old.”
Upon leaving the Army Air Corps, Dr. Lubin used his GI Bill benefits and enrolled at the University of Miami, Fla., graduating with a degree in Liberal Arts in 1950 with some premedical units mixed in, which helped him later when he started optometry school.
He kept his ties in the military by joining the Air Force Reserve.
But first, he heeded his country’s call to duty during the Korean War, which would leave him with an unforgettable experience.
“I was recalled to duty in 1951 flying cargo from Japan to Korea in a C-46,” he said. “On one of the flights, I had the opportunity to fly former heavyweight champion Joe Louis around Japan. He was so large that the parachute wouldn’t fit. It was a thrill to fly someone that famous.”
After the Korean War, Dr. Lubin enrolled in the Southern College of Optometry and graduated in 1955. While in school he married Sybil, to whom he has been married for 59 years. They have three children and five grandchildren. Their son lives in Sitka, Alaska, and they have a daughter who lives in California and a daughter who resides in Phoenix.
He also went back into the Reserve, attached to Andrews Air Force Base, Md., retiring in 1963 with 20 years of service and more than 5,000 hours in the air. During his flying career, he flew the B-24, P-51, B-25, C-46, C-119 and the F-84.
Dr. Lubin had a successful optometry practice in McLean and Leesburg, Va. He retired in 1987.
However, Dr. Lubin and Sybil weren’t about to sit around and watch television. There were places to see and people to visit.
“We left Virginia in 1994 and moved to Florida,” Mrs. Lubin said. “Before we moved to Florida, we took three cross-country trips by car, taking different routes each trip. We took the northern, middle and southern route, which gave us the opportunity to see most of the country and visit family and friends.”
What’s more, Dr. Lubin didn’t let his interest in aviation die when he left the military.
“I had a 1936 Monocoupe Airplane and a 1947 Swift Airplane, which I enjoyed flying,” he said. “Danielle Steel’s book, Wings, featured my Monocoupe Airplane on the cover.”
The Lubins made their way to the Phoenix area in September 2010 and said they love it here.
All in all, Dr. Lubin said that his life has been a great ride.
“I’ve had two great careers, a wonderful wife, children and grandchildren,” he said. “I had the opportunity to live my dreams.”
By STEPHEN DELGADO, Thunderbolt Staff Writer Luke Air Force Base