Chaptico, Maryland - August 27, 2001
CDR William S. Donaldson, III, USN (Ret)

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Firing Squad
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Flag Folding
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Bill Donaldson was laid to rest today in the family plot at Christ Church in Chaptico, Maryland.  It was a bright, sunny day in a picturesque, rural setting in southern Maryland where the Donaldson family has roots going back to the Revolution. 

After a short delay waiting for the honor guard to arrive from Arlington, the family and friends filed into the historic church, built in 1736, and designed by Christopher Wren. 

The Honor Guard carried the flag draped casket, symbolizing service in the armed forces of the United States.  The procession was led into the Church, filled with family and friends, by Dr. Richard Blair, a noted piper.   Rev. Sam Walker gave a moving eulogy that included a poem written by Bill's grandmother, Mildred Carpenter Donaldson, about her three William's.  William S. Donaldson, Sr. passed away this past December at age 101 and William S. Donaldson, Jr. was laid to rest in 1993 with similar military honors after a long career in the Air Force.

Dr. Walker also read a poem that I am sure Bill would have loved, titled Aviator Heaven.

I hope there's a place, way up in the sky, 
Where pilots can go, when they have to die. 
A place where a guy can buy a cold beer 
For a friend and a comrade, whose memory is dear.
A place where no doctor or lawyer can tread, 
Nor a management type would ere be caught dead;
Just a quaint little place, kind of dark, full of smoke, 
Where they like to sing loud, and love a good joke; 
The kind of a place where a lady could go 
And feel safe and protected, by the men she would know 
There must be a place where old pilots go, 
When their paining is finished, and their airspeed gets low 
Where the whiskey is old, and the women are young, 
And songs about flying and dying are sung, 
Where you'd see all the fellows who'd flown west before, 
And they'd call out your name, as you came through the door. 
Who would buy you a drink, if your thirst should be bad, 
And relate to the others, "He was quite a good lad! " 
And then through the mist, you'd spot an old guy 
You had not seen in years, though he taught you to fly. 
He'd nod his old head, and grin ear to ear; 
And say, "Welcome, my son, I'm pleased that you're here." 
"For this is the place where true flyers come," 
"When their journey is over, and the war has been won." 
"They've come here at last to be safe and alone" 
"From the government clerks and the management clone," 
"Politicians and lawyers, the Feds and the noise," 
"Where all hours are happy, and these good ole boys" 
"Can relax with a cool one, and a well deserved rest;" 
“This is heaven, my son …You've passed your last test" 

At the conclusion of the service in the church, the honor guard led the family and friends to the grave site.  It is fitting to note that Bill was laid to rest within a few yards of his ancestor, Captain John Carpenter, a Revolutionary War soldier who acquired the family farm after Lord Calvert's estate was divided up.

After a short graveside service, Taps was played to mark the beginning of a final, long sleep, and to express hope and confidence in an ultimate reveille to come.

The Honor Guard then fired three volleys to salute Bill’s service to his country. 

The honorary pallbearers, who were positioned in reverse order of rank to signify that in death all persons are equal, then folded the flag and presented it to Joyce, Bill's wife, with the following words:

"On behalf of a grateful nation and a proud Navy, I present this flag to you in recognition of your husband's years of honorable and faithful service to his country."Flag
Dr. Richard Blair then played Amazing Grace on his bagpipe.
At the conclusion of the service family & friends were invited to the Donaldson home to celebrate Bill's life. 



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