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Crazy Horse 31

Updated on February 18, 2011


 In this article I want to share a story of a great man, a brave soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. This story begins November 15, 2008.

Started off a normal day, got up took a shower and went to work. Had a one of those long and dreadful days. Came home and spent time with my sister, we watched a show where we were laughing and carrying on. I got on the computer and played a game, that’s when it fell down hill. “Phone rings.” I answer it and on the other end is my aunt; I could tell something was wrong by the sound of her voice. She asked to talk to my sister, so I handed her the phone. All of a sudden she starts crying hard almost sounds like she is in a panic. I said, “What’s wrong?” She than gathered herself as much as she could and said, “Dads helicopter went down in Iraq and he died.”  I was in so much shock that I couldn’t cry. The shock was so intense that I began to shake.

November 16, 2008

“Casualty Notification team”

About 9:30am the car shows up in front of the house. Two uniforms get out and I watch as they walk to the front door. All I can think of is, a little late? Door bell rings, I let the soldiers in. They then say the words that nobody wants to hear. Being an Army brat for 18 years, the words that I knew by heart. “On behalf of the United States and Secretary of the Army we are here to inform you that Donald V. Clark died while serving a combat mission in Northern City of Mosul, Iraq. Words that not only that I knew by heart, words that I never thought I would hear to my face. I was still in shock. They were explaining from their “Army Knowledge” what happened. If you don’t know anything about the Army they will do anything to protect themselves.

My sister and I drove home because that’s where the funeral was going to be held. Drove from Maryland to Alabama in one night. Didn’t stop for anything but gas and to use the restroom. We kept as high spirits about what has happened to us, at least as high as we could. It was going great, things finally started hitting me as soon as we got to the Alabama state line. I started to think back about the last time I saw him. Took a deep breath to prevent total breakdown, sadly to say it didn’t work. Tears came out and came out hard. Reality started coming and coming fast. We got back home about seven or eight o’clock the follow night.

From what I remember there were so many people there, family and friends. I remember pulling into the drive way and I saw my little brother sitting by the fire pit in the front yard. I than got out of the car, he saw me and started running to me. In my mind I was thinking what do I say? What can I say? I picked him up hoping he wouldn’t see the tears in my eyes or to see his big brother at his lowest point in life. I knew I had to be strong because he looked up to me. I remember holding him for what felt like the longest. I couldn’t let him go. I than shook hands of the friends that came and I hugged family as I passed by them heading for the front door. I put my hand on the door knob and for some reason I couldn’t go inside the house. I tried to force myself to but I just couldn’t.  I than thought back on what my dad would have said, and it goes something like this. “I know your taking things hard right now, I can understand that. But you need to man up and do what you have to do.”  

I went inside. I saw my mom in the kitchen trying to cope with things but I couldn’t even imagine her pain let alone my own. I slowly walked her way, one step at a time. I held my mom and I kept saying I’m sorry I’m so sorry. She said it’s fine, it’s not your fault. I remember being so tired from the drive that I cuddled up next to my little brother and fell asleep.  Some days passed and I remember seeing uniform after uniform come through. (CAO’S) My dad’s body flew into Karen’s Airfield. As we were standing out on the runway waiting for the plane to come to a stop. I kept thinking how this going to feel, I wasn’t sure how I was going to react. I noticed as I watched my mom, brother, and sisters, my sister started to shake. I put my arm around her, as they were unloading my dad from the plane. We watched as this brown stained casket with an American flag draped over the top come off the plane. Tears were flowing and you could hear the sniffles. My sister was shaking worse by this point I than held her more close to me. They loaded dad up in the hearse. We followed the hearse outside the airfield gate where there were riders of the patriot guard. They got into formation around us and the hearse. We took my dad to the funeral home. More days passed, as more family came in.

 November 22, 2008

“The Funeral”

We woke up early that morning. I put on a dress shirt black slacks and dress shoes. I remember being in the bathroom and looking in the mirror. I was trying to tie my tie, and as many times as my dad showed me to tie one for some reason I just didn’t know how to on that day. My mind was like a blank piece of paper. We all got into the car and drove to the cemetery. As we got closer I looked up to see three of the helicopters my dad flew. I watched as they floated in beautiful sky. We finally arrived at the cemetery as I saw a lot of people upon arrival. Friends I went to school with, family and a lot of other people I didn’t know but I’m sure my dad did.

The perfectly folded American flag rested in the hands of CW3 Art Aylesbury as he approached 8-year-old Bailey Clark. Aylesbury put his hand on Bailey’s shoulder and whispered words of comfort on behalf of a grateful nation as he handed over the flag. It rested in Bailey’s lap and he nodded as Aylesbury spoke. It came near the end of the funeral for Bailey’s dad, CW3 Donald Clark, a Newton resident who died when his helicopter crashed Nov. 15 in Mosul, Iraq. In August, Don’s wife Jamie said his deployment in Iraq was teaching her to be both a mother and father to Bailey. Monday, she clutched her flag in one hand as she put the other one around her son while soldiers presented another flag to Clark’s parents, Donald and Linda Clark. Each presentation ended in a slow salute. CW3 Mike Eckhart’s hand trembled when he presented the flag to Jamie. Eckhart was Clark’s wingman. “He was absolutely fearless in support of his brothers in combat,” said Eckhart, who delivered the eulogy and told stories of a gregarious, talented, driven soldier who felt truly free in the sky and the Alaskan wilderness. His fellow soldiers called him “Genghis Don.” Eckhart referred to him as a real man and a world class soldier. He said Clark referred to himself as the “self-proclaimed emperor of Newton.” Jamie said he was a loving husband. Rev. David Willis read a letter Jamie wrote for the service. “Don and I were the sweetest love story ever told. He was my hero. The sorrow I feel is immeasurable,” Jamie wrote. “Don loved his family, his friends, his comrades and his country.” The service with full military honors began with Clark’s body being flown to the cemetery via a Huey helicopter. A military detachment loaded the casket, draped with the American flag, onto a horsedrawn caisson. The caisson carried the body to the funeral site as the family walked behind. A soldier carried Clark’s trademark stetson. In the middle of the cross-laden cemetery, a man in full regalia, standing under the half-staff American flag, played the bagpipes. More than 250 crowded around the funeral area. Eckhart shared stories of Clark’s less-guarded moments, and everyone laughed. Shane Owens sang “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, and everyone cried. The military paid a last homage with a 21-gun salute. “Don was very smart. Everybody knows that. He could have done anything,” Willis said. “But he chose to stand together shoulder to shoulder with brave men and women to fight tyranny.” According to one count, Clark is the 4,175th serviceman killed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. ß----- Local news paper article.

Funeral is when everything hit me hard. This was real and my dad was gone. As much as I wanted to have him back I couldn’t.

“Genghis don and his story”

Flying fascinated my dad, and he appreciated the vastness and beauty of the country. "He would send pictures from up in the sky.” My dad 37, of Boardman, Oho., died Nov. 15 when his Kiowa helicopter crashed while on a mission over Mosul. He was a 1989 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Wainwright. He was in the Navy when he met and married my mom, Jamie, in 1991 and always talked about flying. He made the switch to the Army a few years later. He wanted to retire and become an instructor pilot at Fort Rucker. "He was absolutely fearless in support of his brothers in combat," said Chief Warrant Officer Mike Eckhart, dad’s wingman. He also is survived by his four children: Danielle, Brittany, Jonathan and Bailey. "Don was very smart. Everybody knows that. He could have done anything," said the Rev. David Willis. "But he chose to stand together shoulder to shoulder with brave men and women to fight tyranny."

My dad was known as Genghis Don, because he was that fierce warrior. He never let anything stop him from anything. He wore his heart on his sleeve for everyone.

Now the title of my article is Crazy Horse 31, I want to explain that one. Does anyone know the story of Crazy Horse because I really don’t know the actual story. I just know this story. Crazy Horse 31 was my dad’s call sign in the air. It will be the last time anyone would use that call sign. My dad was more than just a soldier whom gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country. He was my dad, my hero and my best friend. As I walk this earth he may be gone but he is forever with me in my heart. I take him everywhere I go just so he doesn’t miss anything not even a beat.

 R.I.P Dad I miss you and I love you.

Donald V Clark September 12, 1971~November 15, 2008.

 We will never forget.


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    • profile image

      CH 16 

      6 years ago

      Crazy Horse 31 described the Troop (C TRP "Crazy Horse") and the job position he was in. 31 meant that he was the standardization instructor pilot for the Troop.

    • abbykorinnelee profile image

      Abigayle Malchow 

      7 years ago from Ripon Wisconsin

      Your dad is a true hero for all of us live the life in fear of losing our loved ones at war but I want to say that if I had to go I would have wanted to die a Marine in war as well. I would want my husband, my father, my best friend to have that honorable death as well because their death means something. Its not a random sensless act and its done with pride and they chose to take this chance. God Bless

    • ahorseback profile image


      7 years ago

      There are no words that can begin to end your pain, as you know by now and in your future the real and absolute hero that is your Father is will become more and more important to you and hopefully to the nation as well. I want you to know this thought.......They who leave us are never gone from us! They are there in the sunlight of each morning , in the stars of the quiet night , and in the eye's , in the hands and in the blood of thier sons and daughters. Your father is right there beside you! God bless him ! And you for sharing with us , telling us ! Just what a true hero really is! Take care of you and your family.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for this.


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