Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Donald Marion McKay May 18, 1919 - April 6, 2015

Donald Marion McKay, age 95, a longtime resident of Ponca City entered in his heavenly home on April 6, 2015. He joins many family members who had gone before him; his wife Nancy Hester McKay, his parents, 6 sisters (Marguerite, Sylvia, Irene, Jean, Doris and an infant sister Jewell, 1 brother (Frank), one son-law, Art Austin, a nephew, Mike McKay and a niece, Kay Evans. Don was born May 18th, 1919, in Independence, Kansas, son of Benjamin Franklin McKay and Sylvia Ada Rudd McKay. The McKay’s moved to Ponca City where Don attended McKinley grade school and graduated from Ponca City High School in 1938. Don loved playing football in high school and was given the nicknames of “Blackie” and “Cotton.” After graduation Don attended Northern Oklahoma College playing football and transferred to Oklahoma A & M playing on their freshmen football team. Don met Henry Iba during the time he played freshmen football. 

He served his country during WWII by joining the US Army in 1941 and served in the Field Artillery. He was honorably discharged in 1945 and earned the rank of Captain during his years in the Army reserves.

After the war, Don returned to Oklahoma A & M and was on the Oklahoma A & M golf team and lettered in golf in 1946. Don was always impressed that when he saw Henry Iba after the war he remembered his name. Don joined the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and served as their president in 1947. Don met a Kappa Delta, Nancy Hester at Oklahoma A & M and they were engaged and then married at First Presbyterian Church in Ponca City in January 1949.

Don began his work career as a salesman at Industrial Welding supply upon their marriage. Their family was completed with 2 daughters, Marsha and Paula. Don loved the game of golf and won many tournaments in Ponca City over the years. Don always said he met the nicest people playing golf. Marsha was a junior at OSU and Paula was a junior at Po-Hi when their mom passed away in 1971. Don remained a faithful Dad to them and extended his love on to his sons in law and families, his grandchildren and one great granddaughter, Elise, who he gave the name, the Queen.

Don knew he had lived a long and good life and lived life in the most positive way he could but was ready to go. He moved to Westminster Village in 2007 and lived in a Villa, Assisted Living Apt. and finally in his Apt. in nursing. Don formed many close relationships with the staff and other residents over the years and was reconnected with lifelong friends, the late Victor Webb and Harold Fisher. Don loved sports his whole life and he and Nurse Mark would discuss sports a lot together but his favorite college team was of course OSU. He would have meals in his room if an important game was on.
Don leaves behind his family of which he loved and was so very proud of: his daughters, Marsha Austin of Edmond, Paula Cavett and husband, Dick Cavett of Georgetown, TX. One brother, John and wife, Jerry of Irving, TX; 4 grandchildren, Zach Austin of OKC, Amanda and Chris Becker of Edmond, Kimberly Dawn Cavett of Austin, TX and Mark and Carrie Cavett of Stillwater, OK; several nieces and nephews: Peggy Worl, Jean Ann Jamison, Tip and Jerry McKay, Karla and Skip Munroe, John and Debbie McKay and Darren and Bob Minus, Glen Tipton and his wife Teresa , several great nephews and great nieces and several great, great nieces and great, great nephews. Don also leaves behind a loving church family especially Glenda Gartside who visited Don almost every Sunday after he stopped driving to church. Also, thanks to Mary Ann Holt, Barbara and Harold Younger and Dr. Bruce Taylor who visited Don at Via Christi and the times he was in the hospital and also many members who served him communion. One last friend of my dad’s who faithfully visited him was Ed O’Neill. He was a former coffee drinking buddy and it always brought him joy to visit Don.

Services will be at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at the Hope Chapel at Odd Fellows Cemetary, of Ponca City, with Dr. Bruce Taylor of the First Presbyterian Church officiating. Memorials contributions can be made to First Presbyterian Church, 1505 E. Grand, Ponca City, OK 74604. A family visitation will be held at Trout Funeral home on Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 from 6.p.m. until 8 p.m.

Don's daughter Paula Cavett said"My dad served overseas for 31  months with 145th Field Artillery Battalion in Asiastic-Pacific Theater as an Executive Officer of a battery.  He was directly responsible for firing of cannon in battery in support of infantry units.  He trained personnel in use of 155 millimeter cannon and gave orders for firing of cannon in combat.  As a Reconnaissance Officer he was in charge of all battery communication and also served as a forward observer, directing Artillery fire.  In addition to other duties served as Supply officer, Motor Officer and Mess officer.  He was awarded Asisatic-Pacific Theater Ribbon with 5 stars for battle participation in Philippine campaign, Philippine Liberation Medal with 2 stars, American Theater, Good Conduct Medal, and World War II Victory Medal." 

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Memorial Day at the Henri-Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium 2015

Isn't it wonderful that our fallen soldiers are honored in foreign countries! Our dear friend Maxime Noel previously adopted Duane Miller McKay's grave in the Henri-Chapelle Cemetery in Belgium. As you may recall, a previous post had another dear friend Heinrich Augustin returning Duane McKay's backpack to the Military Museum of the Kansas State Historical Society in Independence, KS, where Duane was born.

Our overseas friends have taken care to preserve and honor the memories of our fallen relations, and I would like to thank them!

Here, for Memorial Day 2015, Maxime Noel could have stayed home with his wife and child. Instead, he joined others in remembering and honoring fallen soldiers of all nations, who are buried at the Henri-Chapelle Cemetery .

Maxime and others placed flags at every memorial cross in the Henri-Chapelle Cemetery, and then Maxime placed a bouquet of flowers at Duane Miller McKay's cross. NEVER FORGOTTEN!

Thank you, Max. God Bless You and the others who continue to honor our soldiers, our relatives.

Max forwarded these photos, which also show a ceremony for Memorial Day. Please enjoy.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

John Earl Copeland buried in Arlington National Cemetery March 18, 2015

Home at last! The remains of John Earl Copeland and his fellow crew members were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on March 18, 2015.

The crew of "Hot Garters" had been shot down on April 14, 1944. They are all HOME 71 years later - thanks to the U.S. Army.

John Earl's granddaughter and her mother and daughter accompanied her at the funeral.

Details can be found here:

Stars and Stripes article


The Washington Post

May you Rest In Peace - Home, Home at last!



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Saturday, January 17, 2015

John Earl Copeland to be Buried in Arlington National Cemetery

In April 2015, Taina Copeland of Olathe, KS will travel to Arlington National Ceremony to witness the buriel of her grandfather John Earl Copeland and 9 fellow soldiers who were shot down and killed on April 18, 1944 in New Guinea.

Watch the video interview with Taina and read the online news article for more information.

This is exciting news and the culmination of years of searching and recovery by the US Military - they don't leave our soldiers behind!

Interview with Taina Copeland about Grandfather John Earl Copeland

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Earlene Koons went to Heaven on October 20, 2014. I am sure that her beloved husband Melvin Koons was waiting for her at Heaven's Gate. We will miss you, dear friend.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Adopt-a-Grave at Henri-Chappell American Cemetery Belgium

In September 2014, there was an Adopt-a-Grave ceremony at the Henri-Chappell American Cemetery in Belgium.

My friend Maxime Noel - a Mallon (from southern Belgium) military scholar and researcher - attended because he had adopted the grave of Duane Miller McKay. Duane was my late father's cousin, and Duane was killed on Dec. 14, 1944 after the Battle of the Bulge. He had survived the Battle, but was captured, and then with 149 other prisoners - he was shot and killed by the SS.

Duane Miller McKay's grave is in the Henri-Chappell American Cemetery, which contains the remains of almost 8,000 American military who gave their lives during WWII.

Max has provided these photos of the adoption certificate, the cross, a closeup of a flier he took to show others the photo of Duane Miller McKay, the ceremony, the monument, and the field of crosses.

Thank you, Max!

Max writes this:

"I have some relevant information: only two soldiers of the 106th Infantry Division were buried in the Fosse #1 temporary cemetery (2199 graves) (an infantry division - about 16000 men), which was separated in three regiments - for the 106th: they are the 422th Inf Rgt, the 423th Inf Rgt, and the 424th Inf Rgt).

Duane was one of the two soldiers, and the second was Pfc Russel Perri  from West Virginia
(Find A Grave Memorial# 125173136). It is surprising that there are only two solders there!!

I have been preparing lists sorted out by units.

For the 82th Airborne division there are five soldiers; then for the 101th airborne division there are about 20 soldiers, for the 3rd armored division, the 28th Infantry Division,  the 4th infantry division, the 30th infantry division, there are more than 100 in each !!

I have also found that a small monument was built for the men of the 424 Inf Rgt 106 Inf Division in the small village of Ennal (Belgian Luxembourg I think). This village was liberated by this regiment on 15 January 1945 ... "

Once again, thank you for this valuable information, Max!

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

John Earl Copeland medals presented to Taina Copeland

On August 29, 2014 - the U.S. Army presented posthumous medals and ribbons to Taina Copeland for her late Grandfather's military service and ultimate sacrifice. On April 10, 1944 John Earl Copeland senior and his crew were shot down in Papau New Guinea.

This past year, his remains and those of his crew were recovered. A forensic genealogist contacted me, and I put her in contact with John Earl Copeland's granddaughter Taina Copeland and with his 92 year old cousin George Clark Copeland (of Springfield MO). DNA was collected and dental records need to be confirmed, but the Army determined that the remains were for John Earl Copeland.

On Aug. 29, Major John Heath joined the Kansas community in recognizing John Earl Copeland's service. A police escort and the Coffeyville American Legion Patriot Guard motorcycle escort led Taina Copeland, family and friends to the Cherryvale Cemetery where John Earl's son and Taina's father - John Earl Copeland JR was buried.

With flags raised and waving in the wind, Major Heath gave a speech and then presented Taina with the Purple Heart, as well as other medals.

Photos of the medals are shown here. Photos of the event will be coming soon.

What an honor and a demonstration of how those who sacrificed are recognized and every effort will be made to return them to the U.S.

In Oct. 2014, Taina and her family will travel to Arlington National Cemetery in Washington DC to witness the burial of John Earl Copeland and his crew members.

*Photo from Montgomery County Chronicle Facebook Page

From the Montgomery County Chronicle - Sept. 3, 2014

*Medal photos from Taina Copeland and Linda Hammer

A list of his medals:

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