The American Legion of Montana
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Donald P. Pemberton was born April 2, 1930 in Dilworth, Oklahoma to Lonnie W. "Buck" Pemberton and Frances Katherine "Kate" McDonald Pemberton. He grew up in Oklahoma and Kansas and attended Rock School in rural Oklahoma, Lincoln School in Blackwell, Oklahoma, Palco Elementary School in Palco, Kansas, a rural school near the family's lease in Kansas, Zurich School in Kansas, and graduated from Palco High School in Palco, Kansas in 1948.
In December of 1948, he enlisted in the US Air Force and served for over 20 years as an aircraft maintenance technician, inspector and superintendent. He was stationed in Texas, Illinois, Guam, Okinawa, Montana, California, Alaska and Vietnam, retiring in March 1969 as a Chief Master Sergeant. He earned the NCO Academy Graduate ribbon, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and Bronze Star.
On July 15, 1952 he married Alma Lorraine Augare at the Holy Family Mission in Two Medicine, Montana, and they were married for 51 years before her death in 2003. They raised twelve children, Peggy, Toni, Frances, Jim, Dana, Loyce, Jeana, Tillie, Jodie, Mike, Chuck and Richard.
After he retired from the Air Force, Don and Alma moved to Browning and Don worked as a mechanic at a sawmill, owned and operated a gas station, worked at Hoyt Chevrolet, worked at Napa Auto Parts, and drove bus for School District 9. He was a member of the Browning Volunteer Fire Department for many years, serving as Chief and Fire Marshal. He also served for six years on the Browning Public Schools Board of Trustees.
Don was a life member of Franklin Juneau Post 127 of the American Legion, and served as post commander and post adjutant. Don was a very active member of the post and assisted with the White Cross program, Adopt-a-Highway Program, post fundraising, and served as a member of the honor guard for many years and at many veterans' funerals. He was also active on a state and national level, serving as Department Commander for the Montana American Legion in 1993-1994, assisting with Boys State and Oratorical Contest, and attending several national conventions.
In addition to the American Legion, Don was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of American 40 & 8, Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada (US Unit), Kentucky Colonels and The Retired Enlisted Association.
Don is survived by his daughters Peggy Harwood, Toni (Cliff) Gray, Dana Pemberton and Loyce (Steve) Barcus of Browning, Frances (Jack) Kittson of Babb, Jeana Dubray Rowe of Spokane, WA, Twila (Ted) DuBray Lee of Cut Bank; sons Jim (June) Pemberton of Two Medicine, Michael Last Star of Denver, CO, and Richard Pemberton of Havre; sisters Peg Lawson of Newkirk, OK and Nelda Ruth Starr of Breckenridge, TX; brother-in-law Wishie Augare of Heart Butte; 32 grandchildren and 56 great-grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.
In addition to his wife Alma, Don was precede in death by his parents, sons Melvin "Jodie" Last Star, Jr., Donald C. "Chuck" Pemberton, brother Jack W. Pemberton and sisters Billie Trenary and Loyce McDaris.
A wake for Don will begin on Saturday, September 13 at the Veterans Memorial Arbor in Browning. The Rosary will be 7:00 PM on Tuesday, September 16, also at the Veterans Memorial Arbor. Mass of Christian Burial will be 2:00 PM on Wednesday, September 17 at the Holy Family Mission, followed by military graveside committal at the Mission Cemetery on Joe Show East Rd. In accordance with Don's wishes, donations to the Alma Pemberton Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o Dana Pemberton, are suggested in lieu of flowers. Arrangements have been entrusted to Whitted Funeral Chapel, Cut Bank, Montana. Please visit Don's online memorial and leave a message of condolence for the family at www.whittedfuneralchapel.com.
Lewis and Clark Post No. 2 Dedicates
POW/MIA "Chair of Honor" at Kindrick Legion Field
"Today is May 17, Armed Forces Day. We come together as a community to recognize all veterans in attendance for their strength, courage and service to the United States of America.
We pause to remember those who served our country and paid the ultimate price doing so.
We thank the families and friends of those who served and are serving today. We hope you feel our pride, respect and gratitude for your service and sacrifice.
Since WWII, more than 83,000 Prisoners of War/Missing in Action (also known as POW/MIAs) are still unaccounted for.
This "Chair of Honor" at Kindrick Legion Field will be a reminder to all who see it of the sacrifices endured by members of the Armed Forces of the United States – especially those who were held as prisoners of war or remain missing in action. It will remain unoccupied until all are brought home or accounted for.
There are 55 Montana POW/MIAs still unaccounted for:
8 from WWII
28 from Korea
18 from Vietnam
And one from the Cold War
Their friends and loved ones still have faith and hold on to hope.
It is a tremendous honor for us to be here today, dedicating a permanent tribute to POW/MIAs.
At the request of individuals working to ensure American service members listed as Prisoners of War or Missing in Action are not forgotten, the members of American Legion Lewis and Clark Post No. 2 and officials with the City of Helena agreed a memorial chair could be installed in this ballpark. A place in the grandstand behind home plate was chosen for this tribute to feature the POW/MIA "Chair of Honor" with a plaque commemorating the sacrifices made by U.S. troops serving our nation.
Let this "Chair of Honor" serve as a reminder to our community and all baseball fans – this is a memorial to those who served in the military of our great Nation.
This is for the men and women who so bravely fought for our country and are missing in action or are prisoners of war, including the one POW/MIA from Hayley, Idaho, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, US Army, missing in action: June 30th, 2009, in Afghanistan.
We now unveil and dedicate the Kindrick Legion Field POW/MIA "Chair of Honor".
While it’s the first such designated "Chair of Honor" in a sports stadium in Helena, advocates hope it will not be the last.
To those who work for our veterans and their families: we can do more.
As we go back to the activities and routines of our lives, let us make a promise to spare no effort to do whatever it takes – so the sacrifices of those who have served and those who continue to serve will not be forgotten.
We gratefully acknowledge sponsors who helped make this "Chair of Honor possible:
West Side Welding,
Pacific Steel and Recycling,
Call Industries Custom Coatings,
and, Trophy Case."
(The above text was read over the Kindrick Legion Field public address system at 12:30 pm, shortly before the start of the second game in an American Legion Baseball double-header: Helena Senators vs. Gallatin Valley Outlaws.)
Please CLICK HERE to take the American Legion Extension Institute online. It is a great way to learn the history and inner workings of the American Legion. Upon completion, National Headquarters will send you a certificate and a very nice pin signifying your accomplishment. Please contact Department HQ with any questions or any issues getting started.