Honoring Those Who Have Served
Colonel David R. Stephenson, U.S. Air Force
Ret. Col. David Ralph Stephenson, 83, passed away peacefully on May 28, 2017, in Mary Esther, Florida, after a long and distinguished military career. His funeral service and burial were held at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia, on May 3, 2018, with full military honors including an escort platoon, military band, a firing party, bugler, bagpiper, and caisson.
Reflecting on the ceremony, Jeff Kelley, Col. Stephenson’s nephew and CEO of Chameleon Integrated Services, said, “Arlington is a very beautiful yet solemn place. The funeral ceremony with full military honors for my Uncle David was deeply moving; especially the care and precision demonstrated by the Air Force Honor Guard. They provided a solitary bagpiper off in the distance and a symbolic horse-drawn caisson carrying his casket. When that bugler played ‘Taps,’ there wasn’t a dry eye to be found.”
Col. Stephenson graduated from high school in Alton, Illinois, where he met and married the love of his life—Donna. After graduation in 1951 he enlisted in the United States Air Force, where he would serve for the next twenty-nine years. The first six of those he served as an enlisted airman, and the next twenty-three as an officer. He served in locations around the world, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Vietnam, and Morocco, as well as multiple stateside assignments. In April of this year, Col. Stephenson was recognized by Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, for being a Selfless Air Commando. Webb specifically recognized him for the work he did on Tail #64-0567, the MC-130E Combat Talon that participated in many notable missions around the globe and is now a historic aircraft residing at the Hurlburt Field Airpark in Florida. For his service, Col. Stephenson received the Air Medal, the Bronze Star, and the Legion of Merit.
Following his retirement from the Air Force in 1980, Col. Stephenson joined Lockheed Martin. Throughout his life, Col. Stephenson’s faith in God was his compass, and he and Donna always did their best to pass along to others their feelings on the importance of faith. They were active and involved in their church communities wherever they resided, and contributed to support their churches, military organizations, and missionary efforts. Together, Col. Stephenson and Donna made their family their priority, and lived with a true desire to help other people succeed.
Colonel David R. Stephenson—Military Full Honors Funeral Photo Gallery