Following graduation from high school Don worked at Kuner Empson canning plant, the pea harvest and at Gates Rubber Co. At the age of 17 Don enlisted in the United States Navy, his Dad had to sign. He did his Boot Camp and Service School – Signalman, training at Great Lakes Naval Station. He was assigned to a destroyer escort, although Don did not see any war zone action. He was honorably discharged on July 6, 1946.
Don served on the USS Reeves (APD-52) from late 1944 until decommissioning 30 July 1946.
Redesignated APD-52 on 25 September 1944, Reeves emerged from the shipyard on 23 December and after amphibious training, headed for the Panama Canal and duty in the Pacific. Arriving at Ulithi on 26 February 1945, she continued on to the Philippines in early March to rehearse for Operation Iceberg, the invasion of the Ryukyus.On 26 March Reeves arrived off the Kerama Retto invasion area and, after initial duties as a standby ship for Underwater Demolition Team operations, shifted to anti-submarine and anti-aircraft screening duties. She served on that harrowing duty for 109 days interrupted only for a fast convoy to Ulithi and a brief availability in the Philippines. Detached 18 August, the APD delivered men, mail, and provisions to ships of the fleet, then sailed north to Japan. There, into October, she assisted in the repatriation of former POWs, including Maj.'Pappy' Boyington. Then supported the United States Strategic Bombing Survey mission assigned to the Nagasaki area. She was the first American Ship to drop anchor in Japanese (Tokyo) water before the surrender.
Reeves sailed for the United States on 26 November and, after stops in the Volcano, Marshall, and Hawaiian islands, arrived at San Diego on 23 December. Three days later she continued on, and, on 10 January 1946, she arrived at Boston to begin inactivation. Assigned to the Florida Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet, she decommissioned on 30 July at Green Cove Springs, Florida where she remained until struck from the Navy List on 1 June 1960 and transferred to the Government of Ecuador for use as an electric generator plant.