In Memory

Donald "Don" Hilbert ('55) - Class Of 1955

MG Donald Hilbert, US Army Retired, USMA '55



Major General Donald C. Hilbert U.S. Army (Ret.) Major General Donald C. Hilbert, U.S. Army (retired) passed away peacefully and with family at home in Potomac, MD on May 17, 2020. He was 86. Major General Hilbert was born in Brooklyn, NY on July 31, 1933. In 1955 he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering. He also held a Master of Arts degree in Government from the College of William & Mary. His military education included completion of the U.S. Army Infantry School, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, L'Ecole d'Etat - Major (French Staff College), and the National War College. Major General Hilbert served in a variety of progressive assignments. These included his initial assignment as Platoon Leader and XO with the 24th Infantry Division in Korea followed by an assignment with the 1st Calvary Division in Japan. He subsequently completed a tour with the 3rd U.S. Infantry (Old Guard) at Ft. Myer, VA. He served as instructor for the Command Staff Department at Ft. Benning, GA and as a professor of military science at The Citadel in Charleston, SC. In 1965 he was deployed to Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division as a Company Commander, Battalion S-3, and Brigade Assistant S-3. He served with the EUCOM Airborne Command Post in England in 1968, followed by a tour as Commander in the 3rd Armored Division based in Germany. He returned to Vietnam in 1970 as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. After attending the National War College in 1973, he completed a tour as G3 in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. Major General Hilbert was selected to command the 3rd Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) in 1977. During his military service he held several important command and staff positions to include Commanding General of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. Other key assignments include Chief of Staff of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks, HI; Deputy Vice Director for Foreign Intelligence at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.; and Defense and Army Attache' at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France. Upon his retirement from the military in 1990, Major General Hilbert was appointed by President Bush to be the Governor of the U.S. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home, a continuing care retirement community for enlisted retirees and veterans located in Washington, D.C. In 2002 he became the CEO & Executive Director of the Army Distaff Foundation-Knollwood, a retirement community for retired career officers of all armed services and their spouses, also located in Washington, D.C. Following his retirement at Knollwood he served as a Senior Consultant for the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. As a representative of the organization he significantly impacted the lives of thousands of Vietnam veterans and their families as he thanked and honored them in their hometowns. Awards and decorations received include: Distinguished Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Defense Superior Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with "V" Device (with Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (with Oak Leaf Cluster), French Legion of Merit (Grade of Commander), 15 Air Medals, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device (with two Oak Leaf Clusters), Combat Infantryman Badge and Master Parachutist Badge. Major General Hilbert was a true leader and great husband, father and friend. He was loved by all and will be sadly missed. He built many lifelong friendships during his military career and was especially close to his West Point alumni brethren. He enjoyed being surrounded by friends and family and was a staple at regular gatherings of colleagues at the Hunter's Inn in Potomac, MD and the Army Navy Club, Washington, DC. He spent summers with his extended family and friends in Breezy Point, NY, a beach community where he grew up and met his childhood sweetheart and bride of 38 years, Chickie. He was a dedicated fan and longtime season ticket holder of the Washington Redskins and followed the Nationals closely. He also enjoyed a round of golf with his friends at the Avenel Golf Club. He was married to Marie (Chickie) Hilbert until her death in 1994. He was married to Carla S. Hilbert from 1997 until her passing in 2014. Survivors include five children, Suzanne (Joe) Neurauter of Wilmington, NC; Donald Hilbert, Jr. of Atlanta, GA; Catherine (Jim) Cowan, of Breezy Point, NY; Marianne (Paul) Smith of Suwanee, GA and James (Agnes) Hilbert of Severna Park, MD., a sister, Judith Grace of Pocono Lake, PA, and seven grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be handled by Demaine Funeral Home, Alexandria, VA. A celebration of his life, and subsequent internment at Arlington National Cemetery, will be held at a later date.Funeral arrangements will be handled by Demaine Funeral Home, Alexandria, VA. A celebration of his life, and subsequent internment at Arlington National Cemetery, will be held at a later date.


by MG John D. Altenburg, Library Trust Chairman

We have lost a true giant among us, a Club member whose many contributions to our Club will resonate with us well into the future. Major General Donald C. Hilbert passed away on 17 May 2020. Don dedicated his life to service, first as a Career Soldier for 35 years, then as Director of the Soldiers and Airmen’s Home for 10 years, and finally as the President and CEO of the Knollwood Retirement Home in Northwest Washington, DC. Don’s accomplishments in each of those “careers” was exceptional and noteworthy, but his service to The Army and Navy Club on Farragut Square constitutes yet a separate and equally distinguished chapter of his lifetime of service.

Don was a member of the Club’s Board of Governors for more than 10 years; serving as the Club Vice President for 5 years, and as a key member of the Membership Committee even after he unselfishly resigned early from the Board to make way for younger officers to serve. He was appointed by the Club President in 2007 to chair an ad hoc study committee to review, analyze and recommend changes to the Club’s complicated dues structure. His cogent report and recommendations provided the basis for the subsequent financial security of the Club and the Club’s ability to work through the current pandemic. Since 2012 he has also been a key member of the Library Trust Committee where he contributed mightily to many recent projects and improvements. As former commander of the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) and former Commanding General of the Military District of Washington, he provided special Washington DC bona fides to the Trust Committee initiatives with the Smithsonian, World War I and Desert Storm Memorial Committees, and other DC entities. His earlier service as the Army and Defense Attache to the U.S. Embassy in Paris for three years served the Club well in joint art ventures in honor of World War I and World War II.

And the Soldier’s career? Commanded a rifle company in 1966 in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam; returned for a second tour in 1970 to command a rifle battalion (1-327 IN), again in the 101st Airborne Division. He also commanded a mechanized infantry battalion (1-48 IN) in 3rd Armored Division in Germany. As a staff officer, he was G-3 of the 82nd Airborne Division, G-3 Operations of the XVIII Airborne Corps, then was Chief of Staff of the 25th Infantry Division. He was also on the staff of the NATO Airborne Command Post (England) and the Army Staff at in the War Plans Division. He had several assignments at the Defense Intelligence Agency. He served overseas in Vietnam, Japan, Korea, England, France, and Germany. When I read just some of Don’s career, I get the feeling that I’m reading the biographies of two men whose bios have been somehow merged together. How could one person do all that?

Don was all that, and more. He was what many of us like to think of as the quintessential Club member: military service, educated, leader, socially graced, patriotic, honorable, loyal, engaging sense of humor. Don was all that, too—and yet even more. He didn’t know a stranger—and everyone considered him friend. He was my friend. My fondest memories at the Club are of my time with Don. Whether we were sitting at the Daiquiri Lounge bar sharing the enjoyment of a “General Hilbert Martini” (a mainstay of the Daiquiri Lounge since the late 1990s) or dinner together in the Main Dining Room with a young active duty officer who I introduced to Don because every young officer should meet Don, they were my favorite times at the Club. Don loved a good story; Don told a great story, and he loved to laugh. Best of all, his laugh was not only distinctive, it was infectious. We mocked each other, argued about which units were the best, talked about our kids (five each) and grandchildren (believe I bested him there—at least numerically), and best of all, laughed the entire time. I loved him. I do love him! He is in my mind always and forever.

Don contributed mightily wherever he served. He took pride in all that he accomplished, but no doubt he was—is—most proud of his five children, three daughters and two sons who will carry his legacy forward. And so shall we. Godspeed, my good friend!