|Birth: ||Jan. 15, 1930|
|Death: ||Apr. 30, 2010|
Retired Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Col. Donald E. Gaston, of Ligonier, passed away Friday morning, April 30, 2010, in Select Specialty Hospital, Latrobe, after a lengthy illness.
He was predeceased by his parents, Donald Huffman Gaston, of San Diego, Calif., and Genevieve Owens Gaston, of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Parkersburg, W.Va.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 36 years, Elizabeth Andros Gaston (who called Donald her "Silver Treasure" because of his white hair); a sister, Phyllis Ann Gaston Golias, of Hinckley, Ohio, and her husband, Bernard; a brother-in-law, Lawrence Andros, of Dallas, Texas; two sisters-in-law, Lucy Andros Young (and husband Jack), of Long Island, N.Y., and Mrs. Richard (Louise) Andros, of Latrobe; and a number of loving nieces and nephews. Last, but not least, he leaves behind a host of exceptional friends and two wonderful polydactyl felines, Nip 'n Tuck, whom he adored.
Donald was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., January 15, 1930, and attended grade schools in Fort Wayne, Erie, and Evansville, Ind. He graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, Tenn., in 1948. He attended Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, for two years while serving in the West Virginia National Guard. Donald entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., graduating with the Class of 1954. He later received his master's degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M University.
During his Army career, Donald served in various parts of the world, including Alaska, the Antarctic, Greenland, and three tours in Vietnam. From 1968 to 1972, he became a soldier-diplomat when he was asked to serve as the chief of protocol for the Department of the Army in Washington, D.C. On his last tour of duty in Vietnam, he served as the chief of protocol for the Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) and, as such, was the last U.S. military officer to leave Vietnam in 1973 when all U.S. troops were withdrawn -- he was in uniform to see the commanding general off on the last military flight out, then changed to civilian clothing and left Vietnam on a commercial flight. Donald served his final tour of duty in Hawaii on the personal staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, as the Congressional-Legislative Affairs Officer.
Among the medals awarded him during his military service were the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Antarctica Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of China Honor Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm, Vietnam Staff Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation with two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Donald truly embraced and lived up to the West Point motto: Duty, Honor, Country. He retired from the Army in 1975 and he and his wife Elizabeth re-located to Alexandria, Va., where he became a Realtor/broker and vice president of one of the larger real estate companies in the area.
The Gastons moved to Ligonier in 1995 and stayed active as volunteers in the community. Donald was a member of the Lions Club International, the National Ski Patrol, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Association of Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, the Military Officers Association, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (honorary member), USAA, the Friends of Mt. Vernon Association, the Fort Ligonier Association, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, the Ligonier Valley Historical Society, the Ligonier Valley Library, the Ligonier Valley Railroad Association, the Loyalhanna Watershed Association, Powdermill Nature Reserve, and the Ligonier Country Club, where he greatly enjoyed golfing with his best buddies, Tom, Fritz and Bruce. He attended Holy Trinity Church. Family and friends will be received from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the SNYDER FUNERAL HOME INC., Bell and East Church streets, Ligonier. Donald's life will be celebrated with a funeral service at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Ligonier, with celebrant Monsignor William G. Charnoki, PA, assisted by the Rev. Dr. R. Bruce Maxwell and Father John-Mary Tompkins, OSB. Interment will be in St. Vincent Cemetery with full military honors. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to Action for Animals, P.O. Box 814, Latrobe, PA 15650; or The Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation, One Mellon Way, Latrobe, PA 15650; or to the charity of one's choice.
Saint Vincent Cemetery
Created by: Jim Wray
Record added: May 04, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 51996479