Don Chilton hails from Destrehan, Louisiana. He enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Destrehan High School in 1984. Upon completion of the Basic Course of Instruction at the Navy School of Music, his first tour of duty was with the ATLANTIC Fleet Band in Norfolk, Virginia. During this time, he performed as a trumpet instrumentalist with the U.S. Navy Showband, touring South America in support of UNITAS XXVII and XXVIII onboard the USS HAYLER (DD 997) and the USS RADFORD (DD 968) and West Africa during the West Africa Training Cruise (WATC). In 1990, he transferred to the SIXTH Fleet Band in Naples, Italy where he toured extensively throughout Europe, the Baltic States, and Israel. It was there that he made his debut as a lead vocalist with the contemporary entertainment ensemble, The Diplomats. In 1995 after another tour with ATLANTIC Fleet Band, he transferred to Navy Band New Orleans for duty near his home town. He served as Unit Leader of the New Orleans-style variety group, Big Easy, performed as a bass instrumentalist, and participated in the annual Mardi Gras parades. During this tour, he was advanced to Petty Officer First Class. After graduating the Unit Leader Course at the Navy School of Music in 1998, he began his first tour at Navy Band Northeast in Newport, Rhode Island. He served as Unit Leader of the Northeast Navy Showband and Top Brass Quintet, Administrative Petty Officer, and Drum Major. On September 16, 2003 he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer. In January, 2005 he was hand-picked by Head, Navy Music to serve as the leader of the U.S. Navy Showband. In addition to touring Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in support of UNITAS XLVII, he was forward deployed during a five month joint-service humanitarian mission onboard the USNS MERCY (T-AH 19), traveling throughout the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia. After being promoted to Senior Chief Musician, he was once again assigned to Navy Band Northeast in June 2007 where he served as Operations Coordinator, Drum Major, and leader of the Northeast Navy Showband.
Don Chilton retired from the U.S. Navy in June 2010 after completing 26 years of Naval service and lives in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Music from Thomas Edison State College in September 2010. He completed his teacher certification at the University of Rhode Island in May 2012. Mr. Chilton was hired as the band director and general music teacher at Thompson Middle School in Newport, Rhode Island in September 2013. He is a long time member and now, leader of the Larry Brown Swinglane Orchestra since 2015. Don continues to perform as a professional trumpeter. He has performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and with many great musicians including the Temptations, Barrington "Bo" Henderson, Theo Peoples, Danny Klein's Full House, Brooke Shields, Mike Mossman, Greg Abate, and many more.
He holds the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist designator and his military decorations include the Navy Commendation Medal (3 awards); Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards); Navy Unit Commendation; Meritorious Unit Commendation (5 awards); Good Conduct Medal (7 awards); National Defense Service Medal (2 awards); Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3 awards); Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (2 awards) and the Pistol Marksman Ribbon.