Donald W. May
September 28, 1947
April 6, 2023
On Thursday, April 6, 2023. Son of the late Roy and Lucille May. Father of Andrew (Kumi) of Japan and Charles (Lili) of Florida. Brother of David (Karen) May and Mary Ann (Jerry) Ambrose; and the late Charles and Michael May. Dear friend of Mary Jane Charitan. Also survived by nine grandchildren: Joshua William, Heath, Mion Maria, Ewan Michael, Hannah Joella, Dexter Jeffery, Tao Andrew, Jiang Donald, and Tailong Gary May
At age 19, Don went directly from being a Benedictine monastic candidate at St. Meinrad (after 5 years in the seminary) to life in the Air Force. That was a very large dose of culture shock, not to mention Don had to learn a new vocabulary!
While in basic training at Amarillo Air Force Base, Texas, Don was accused of cheating because he got 98 out of 100 correct on the Foreign Language Aptitude Test. Passing score was 40. Don never knew if this was the reason, but he was assigned to attend the construction equipment school at California’s Port Hueneme Naval Base. He had a major handicap with training because he had never even driven a car, much less larger vehicles. He passed the training course – just barely.
Don’s first permanent duty station was Chanute AFB, Illinois. This was only 120 miles from his home in Chicago and he went home every weekend. Don became part of the Air Force Civil Engineers. His department kept roads repaired, streets and runways plowed, and a lot of miscellaneous tasks. By the end of the first year, he had transferred to the accounting arm of the Civil Engineers, which began his life-long love of accounting and computers.
In the Fall of 1968, he was assigned to duty in South Korea. Don was supposed to be in a specialty group called RED HORSE, but his orders got all fouled up and he went to the standard Civil Engineering squadron. RED HORSE personnel went on emergency deployments to build barracks, runways, dams, and so forth. They all wore red horses’ heads as insignia on their uniforms. For those who like acronyms, here is what this name stands for: Rapid Emergency Deployment Heavy Operation Repair Squadron Engineering.
Don spent two Thanksgivings and one Christmas at this location. This is the only Air Force Base that both Don and his son Andrew have served at! When Andrew had been in the Air Force for only 8 years he had already outranked Don as an E-6 Tech Sergeant. (Was Don proud of him? Is the Pope Catholic?) For the Christmas in 1968 Don was fortunate to see the Bob Hope USO tour. That was really great. :-)
His last assignment was to Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan. He arrived there in January 1970 and did not see any sidewalks until April. There was almost nothing to do there except drink and hunt – which is by General Le May had it built. He was an avid hunter.
As in Korea, he occupied himself with correspondence course from the University of Illinois. He completed almost a year’s worth of schooling while in the Air Force.
When Andrew was about to be promoted to Staff Sergeant in 2001, Don sent his commander his dress jacket from when Don was that rank. They used it for his ceremony, which Don thought was really neat.
Don enjoyed his military life! He believed it trained him as a person. He said he would have done it all over again without hesitation!
Don was a devoted member of Saint Raphael the Archangel Parish. He was a Eucharistic Minister, Reader, CCD teacher, and also managed the parish cemeteries.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the SZAFRANSKI-EBERLEIN FUNERAL HOME, INC., where family and friends will be received on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 from 2-6 pm at 101 Third St., Carnegie. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held in St. Raphael the Archangel Parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church on Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 12:45 pm. Following Mass, Don will be laid to rest in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies with full Military Honors.