In Memoriam

Don Raymond Harrington

Don HarringtonDon Harrington died July 7, 2011 at home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from Alzheimer's disease which he fought courageously for over 10 years. Don was born July 10, 1946 at Eglin Air Force Base Florida to parents Agnes and Jasper Harrington who preceded him in death. He is survived by his adoring wife, Bette, of 38 years, children Stacy Campbell-Bright, of Chapel Hill, NC, and husband David; Scott H. Campbell of St. Louis, Missouri, and wife Anne; and seven grandchildren, Mackenzie, Cassidy and Savannah Bright of Chapel Hill and Matthew, Christopher, Jonathan and Madeline Campbell of St. Louis. He is also survived by two sisters, Beverly Saliba of Montgomery, Alabama, and husband Charles; Shirley Boyd of Birmingham, Alabama, and husband Ed; a brother, Jack Harrington of Atlanta, Georgia, and wife Susan as well as numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Don received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the Air Force Academy, a MA in National Security Affairs, South Asian Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School and a MBA at Auburn University. After graduation from the Air Force Academy in 1968 and pilot training, Don's first assignment was flying C-130's in Southeast Asia; next he was stationed at Little Rock AFB flying C-130 missions to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America. From 1982-1986 he was a CT-39A/C-21A pilot and an Operations Officer at Scott AFB. He then worked as a Political Military Planner at the Pentagon from 1986-1990. Don loved everything about the military and worked hard and enjoyed all the positions he held during his 22 year career. After retirement from the military in 1990, he had an opportunity to spend time working with his other passion: books, working in a managerial capacity in the retail book business. During this time he expanded his own enormous collection of books as well as spreading his knowledge about the printed word.

Don was buried at 12:45 pm on Friday, December 16, 2011 at Arlington (Post Chapel) Cemetery with full Military Honors. In lieu of flowers contributions can be made in his honor on line through paypal at or checks payable to "Friends Club" by mail to:

Friends Club
6601 Bradley Blvd.
Bethesda, MD 20817

The Friends Club is an organization in Bethesda, Maryland which provides services to those living with Alzheimer's disease and their families.

(Written by his family)

Click on thumbnails for larger images

Post Chapel



Honor Guard



Dear Fellow Watusi's,

On a cool, cloudy, and windy day, Polly and I were joined by Toby and Cathy Sullivan, Tim Davidson, and Ed and Karen Eberhart to pay our last respects to our friend and former squadron mate Don Harrington.

For those of you who may not have had the opportunity to see a burial ceremony with full military honors, I attached some pictures of today's event.

Don's stepson read the eulogy. It was interesting to hear about Don's abiding love of books (he worked in a DC book store after retirement and lined his house with books) and his love of flying and airplanes. Even deep into his illness, his son said Don had unerring and deep recall of information about airplanes and flying. Mike Wagner and I can only too well remember how much Don knew about Air Force aircraft in 1964 (and we knew practically nothing). Apparently, even in the depth of his illness, his total recall of aircraft (and especially the C-130) was still alive.

The pictures show the Old Post Chapel near the parade ground where Orville and Wilbur Wright first demonstrated their air machine to the U.S. Army. After a brief 15 minute ceremony in the chapel, we lined up behind the caisson for the walk down the hill. Don's family walked, we all drove in a convoy behind the walkers. After the 21-gun salute, taps at the gravesite, and presentation of the flag, we all bid farewell and returned to our homes.

All the best,


Don HarringtonThe day was cool and gray, but silently peaceful, made more meaningful by following the caisson to the burial site and looking at the somber beauty of the setting, the gravity of so many fallen comrades, and the devotion of our solemn escort duty.

This is the honor due to Don and his integrity, dedication, humor, selflessness, and yes, at times just plain contrariness! I had the good fortune to be with Don in the Washington, D.C. area from the time he moved from Scott AFB for his Pentagon tour, through his military retirement in 1990, and then to that great span of time till his death when we look for our existential rationale. I was lucky to enjoy over 20 years of participation in his and Bette's lives. I'm taking this time to personally say goodbye to my 11th Squadron 1st class roomie and longtime friend, and also to recount a few things that made Don unique.

Many may not know, but Don came to his Air Force career and flying vocation through the DNA of the American Volunteer Group - yes, the Flying Tigers, commanded by Claire Lee Chennault. The A.V.G.'s exploits in China and Burma in the early 1940s were the wellsprings of Don's aviation heritage and his success with fourth class "Table Knowledge." The Tigers wrote a flaming chapter in aerial combat history. Don's father, Jasper J. Harrington, was the 1st Pursuit Squadron's Line Chief. Paging through "The Pictorial History of the Flying Tigers" by Larry M. Pistole, I see the pictures of Don's dad standing on the wings of P-40 Tomahawks and see the heritage that drove Don's quiet intensity - and in those early pictures I see the likeness of Don.

When Don's life changed after his diagnosis of Alzheimer's, I watched him inevitably change as he moved toward his destiny; yet he came alive at the Chantilly, Virginia Air and Space Museum. When we went to this shrine of aviation history, it was as if he stepped back in time. Don had worked at the museum and everyone on staff knew him and greeted his arrival. To see him engage the visitors, you would never guess he was anything more than a friendly Alabama ex-airman, gladly sharing his knowledge as if he was leading a tour. Even as his memory played tricks on him, he would still astound me with some arcane 11th Squadron fact I had no command of anymore.

I followed him throughout the Vietnam War and never imagined him in harm's way. He is my son's godfather and a trusted friend who supported me through thick and thin. The A.V.G. Tigers' losses were small compared to their victories. Don's passing is equally small compared to what he left us. The richness of that legacy will sustain my flight through life and all who knew the man who loved books.

(Pat Heinig,'68, January, 2012, Cabin John, Maryland)

Return to In Memoriam