A time to remember a life lost


January 03, 2012

The first days of the new year are more than a time to look forward, to resolve to do better. They also provide an opportunity to look back and remember what has been lost.

Each week, readers of the Times have an opportunity to do that by checking out "Pages from the Past," a compilation of articles and news of 50, 75 and 100 years ago taken from the pages of the newspaper that eventually became the Catonsville Times.

On Page 7 of this week's issue is a short mention of a young man from Catonsville who, like many young men and women today, as well as in years past, was home from college for the holidays.

Yet, as Donald MacLaughlin Jr. relaxed with his family in their home on North Rolling Road and savored the time away from the stress that is life at the U.S. Naval Academy, he could not have known how little time he had left.

A member of the school's lacrosse and soccer teams, MacLaughlin no doubt had enjoyed the fall season, during which Navy went 9-1-1 and ended the year with a satisfying victory over Army.

The previous spring, MacLaughlin's first with the lacrosse team, Navy won its first nine games in a row and finished the season sharing the top spot in the U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association's national rankings with Army.

In the spring of 1962, Navy would finish 10-1 and again rank first in the nation. MacLaughlin was captain of the team and named Second Team All-American.

The following fall, he would be named Second Team All-American in soccer as Navy went 10-1.

In the spring of 1963, the lacrosse team again was USILA national champs. MacLaughlin, a midfielder and captain of the team, was named First Team All-American.

Team captain in two sports, All-American in two sports, in the top 10 percent of his class, MacLaughlin was presented with The Sword for Men, the most prestigious award an athlete at the Naval Academy can earn.

On Jan. 2, 1966, Lt. j.g. Donald MacLaughlin's jet was catapulted from the aircraft carrier Enterprise for a bombing mission over South Vietnam.

According to various websites, clouds and fog filled the sky over the target of Doc Pho in the province of Quan Ngai.

His A-4 Skyhawk crashed into a mountainside. His body was never recovered.

He was 25, with a wife and 21-month-old daughter.

The loss is marked by more than a graveside marker in Baltimore National Cemetery.

Since 1973, the best college lacrosse midfielder in the country has been presented with the MacLaughlin Award.

Not everyone can be remembered with a national award named in their honor.

But each of us can remember someone who has made our world a better place. This week is a perfect time to do so.

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