FAYETTEVILLE—Donald W. East
February 21, 1947 – November
Donald W. East Jr. “Don”, 74, of Fayetteville passed away on November 1, 2021. He is preceded in death by his parents, Donald W. East Sr. and Mary Madeleine East “Maddie”. He is survived by his wife, Mary Sandra East “Sandi”; his children Sean East, Bridgette Smith, and Michelle Herrington (David); his sisters, Judy Taylor and Susie Ferris; and his grandchildren Trent Smith, Addison Smith, Bentley Herrington, and Madeleine Herrington.
Don was born and raised in Southern California. In 1966, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the United States Military. He joined the Air Force and served for 26 years as an Air Force Special Operation Combat Controller (CCT). He retired as Senior Master Sergeant in 1992. Although he jumped out of thousands of military planes, he was terrified of heights. Don was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, AF Commendation and Achievement Medal, and many more. While serving in the Vietnam War in Northern Cambodia, 1970, he received his highest Medal, a Silver Star. He was providing Air Traffic Control to C-47, C-123, and C-7A aircraft in the evacuation of three thousand Cambodia refugees when his field came under attack by rockets, mortars and advancing ground forces. With complete disregard for his own safety, he climbed upon his MRC-148 radio vehicle to give takeoff instructions to the three C-7A aircraft who were helpless targets of the attack. From his open and unprotected position, he directed the immediate safe departure of the three aircrafts. His courageous actions saved the lives of many Army of the Republic of Vietnam Ranger and Cambodia defenders who were waiting departure from the field, as well as 200-300 Cambodian refugees; men, women and children who were still at the field.
With the military, comes many moves and memories. Don had multiple Combat Control assignments. He was first stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia. While serving at Langley, on his spare time he worked as a Lifeguard and met the love of his life Sandi. Sandi would be found hanging around his lifeguard stand to get his attention. They married on November 16, 1968, and soon after had their first born, Sean. After Langley, Don and family were stationed at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, Washington where they had their second born, Bridgette. After Tacoma, Don and family were stationed at Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina where they had their third born, Michelle. After Pope, Don and family were stationed at Rhein-Main Air Force Base in Frankfurt, Germany, and Clark Air Force Base in Mabalacat, Philippines. Though Don and family lived many places, Fayetteville, North Carolina is where they established their roots and retired. After retiring from the military, Don’s passion for golf led him to attend Methodist College where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Golf Management and was a General Manager at King’s Grant Golf & Country Club and Florence Golf & Country Club. When Don finally retired for good, he and Sandi enjoyed spending time with family and travelling to the beach, mountains, and Nascar races. If you knew Don, you know he had a strong passion for his Country and politics and could often be heard yelling at the tv while watching his favorite channel, FOX News. Don loved his family and enjoyed getting to learn new hip things from his grandchildren and loved hearing about their academic and athletic growth. He also loved spending time with his best friend/dog named after his favorite President, Reagan.
Don’s wish was to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He will receive an Honorable Service and Burial on February 14, 2022, at 2:00PM. If you wish to be a guest, please let a family member know. [1 Memorial Ave Arlington, VA 22211]
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