Damon J. "Rocky" Gause was born in 1915 in Fort Valley, Georgia. After enrolling at the University of Georgia, he took flying lessons from Ben T. Epps and became a licensed pilot in the 1930s. In Early 1941, prior to U.S. involvement in WWII, Gause joined the Army Air Corps and completed his primary flight training at Randolph Field, Texas, followed by advanced flight training at Kelly Field, Texas. Gause was assigned to the 17th Squadron, 27th Bombardment Group (L), flying Douglas Dauntless A-24 dive-bombers. This group was based at Hunter Air Field, Savannah, Georgia. They were ordered to the Philippines and arrived there on November 20, 1941. When their planes were diverted after December 7, 1941, Gause and his group of 27th Bombardment members formed into the 1st Provisional Air Corps Regiment (Infantry) and held a front line position defending Bataan Peninsula. After American forces surrendered, Gause succeeded in crossing Manila Bay to Corregidor. There he was assigned as a Machine Gun Company Commander with the 4th Marines. Before Corregidor's surrender, Gause was granted permission to escape the island. He reached Luzon, and after island hopping for months, he found a fellow escapee, Captain William L. Osborne. Together, they embarked on a harrowing 3,200 mile survival saga in a 22-foot native fishing boat to reach safety at Wyndham, Australia, on October 11, 1942.
Upon arrival, they were flown to General Douglas MacArthur's Headquarters where the General himself awarded them the Distinguished Service Cross. Gause was then assigned to help sell War Bonds. Within several months, Army Air Corps Chief of Staff, General Henry "Hap" Arnold, agreed to recall Gause to active duty and send him to Europe. Captain Gause was assigned as C.O. of the 386th Squadron, flying P-47s. He was promoted to Major before leaving for England to begin training for the upcoming D-Day Invasion. The P-47 was to be converted into a dual role fighter and dive-bomber. When a volunteer was requested to take the P-47 up to 30,000 feet and drop into a vertical dive, Gause took the aircraft up himself. His airplane never recovered from the long vertical dive. On March 9, 1944, Major Gause gave his life to aid his country. In addition to his Distinguished Service Cross and a recommendation for the Silver Cross, Gause was awarded posthumously the Air Medal, Bronze Star, and two Presidential Unit Citations.
Major Gause's extraordinary exploits are documented in a book entitled, "The War Journal of Major Damon "Rocky" Gause." Major Gause, a true American hero, was enshrined in the Georgia Aviation Hall of Fame April 29, 2000.