A great American passed away on April 23, 2023 in Wilmington. Don Beaver was born in 1934 on a Pennsylvania farm as the fifteenth of eighteen children born to his mother. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1951 and served for 31 years, including three combat tours in Korea and Vietnam. He was a jet mechanic and a drill instructor at MCRD San Diego before transitioning to helicopters. While a DI, he was one of several DIs who gave actor Frank Sutton tips on how to be Sergeant Carter on the TV show "Gomer Pyle, USMC." In addition, he invented the cover block used to help shape fatigue covers and earned some modest royalties from his invention.
Don was with the first CH-46 squadron to report to Vietnam in 1965. While in Vietnam, Don was awarded a Silver Star and Navy Commendation Medal with Combat "V" for heroism in combat. In the Silver Star incident, then-Gunny Beaver was shot down while a crew chief on a CH-46. He and his fellow Marines were surrounded by Viet Cong. Beaver was wounded, including suffering a fractured neck. Ignoring his wounds, he repeatedly carried wounded Marines from the burning helicopter while under fire and established a defensive perimeter until rescue came. During his Vietnam service, Beaver was shot down three times and survived multiple wounds from those incidents.
Don's commitment to his family and community was unparalleled. After retiring from the Marines in 1982, Don was in civil service at Cherry Point doing aircraft corrosion control until 1999. At the same time, he served on the Havelock City Council, including as mayor of Havelock for 4 years, and on the: Havelock Chamber of Commerce; Havelock Planning Board; Craven County Wastewater Management Committee; Board of the Neuse River Council of Governments; and city and county recreation boards. Don also served: on the Cherry Point Church Council and as its Superintendent of the Sunday School for over 20 years; 30 years with the Havelock High Booster Club (including as its President); for decades as an umpire for the local Little League and Babe Ruth baseball; in the local Civitan chapter; on the Military Affairs Committee, including cooking countless pig pickings for Cherry Point Marine units, and more. Don was also active with the local Masonic lodge, the VFW, the American Legion, the Cherry Point Hunt Club, and more.
Don is survived by his wife of 69 years, Madge, his brothers Fred, Dale, and Dean, his sister Hope, son Donald Jr married to Lorraine, son Gary married to Lynn, grandchildren Jason, Bree, Anna, Nathan, and Alex, step-grandchildren Adam, Heather, Kris, and Kelley, and nine great grandchildren. Don was our hero and is sorely missed.
Plans are being made for a celebration of Don's life at 2 pm, Saturday, June 17 at the Havelock Tourist and Event Center. All are invited to attend.
To honor Don and continue his legacy of service to the community, the family is establishing the Don Beaver Memorial Scholarship Fund to provide financial assistance to students in the Aviation and Propulsion program at Craven Community College. To those inclined to honor Don, checks can be made to the CCC Foundation mentioning the Don Beaver Memorial Scholarship Fund in the memo line.
Family and friends are welcome to submit online condolences at www.mundenfuneralhome.net
Arrangements by Munden Funeral Home & Crematory in Morehead City, NC.