Longtime Rotarian and former POW Myron Donald shared his experiences with club members.
Rotary Club of Marana
Meeting Minutes, August 15, 2023
Club Business
  • Cathy Lolwing delivered unfortunate news; she has resigned as president and from Rotary at this time. We all know Cathy to be very active serving our community which she will continue to do. We all wish her the very best. 
  • Joan was welcomed into our club’s membership. A proper installation is to follow.
  • Dan will fill the MCAT Teacher’s Care Cupboard.
  • Mark will talk with Principal Green about an MCAT Student being recommended for Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA). We are looking for high school students with leadership potential who would benefit from an opportunity to grow their skills.  RYLA will take place on MLK Jr. weekend.  Spots are filling up fast.
  • Don will attend the Marana Chamber of Commerce annual breakfast on Thursday morning where our club will be among those recognized for our 20-year chamber membership.
  • For those of you interested in contributing to recovery efforts in Maui, donate directly to the District. Contact Don for more information. 
Happy Bucks
  • Cindy was glowing from a successful celebration with the inbound, outbound, rebound youth exchange participants and their families.
  • John was happy to see Laura behind the podium once again.
  • Dan was looking forward to listening to our honored speaker, Myron Donald
  • Joan was happy to be counted amongst our numbers.  She was also please that she was able to watch the Perseid Meteor Showers from the mountains in San Diego.
  • Mark was excited and challenged by the 13,000 kids returning to school.
  • Harold continues to recuperate from his surgery.  He’s walking without a walker at this point and hopes to be back in person in a few weeks.
  • Bob has been busy cancelling his planned trip to Lahaina in 3 weeks.
  • Randy had nice words for Cathy and applauded Laura.  Also, Randy is eagerly awaiting a bike ride he will take this weekend, riding form Idaho into Montana and back into Idaho.  He’s been promised it is a predominantly downhill ride. Fingers crossed.
  • Richie was being a proud father, meeting with us while dropping his son to his first week in kindergarten. 
  • Andrea had a great weekend with parents and in-laws.
  • Becky thanked Laura for retaking the helm.  Becky was also taking a deep breath, having survived 3 nights and 4 days with her granddaughters.  Time she absolutely loved.
  • Laura was recognizing  that she had just experienced her last quiet weekend before teaching and other obligations picked up again.
Guest speaker
Myron Donald, a 27-year member of the Tucson Sunrise Rotary Club and former Vietnam prisoner of war, educated the club about his experiences as  POW and his life before and after.
Myron grew up on a corner of his grandfather’s farm in central New York.  His father was a carpenter and his mother a housewife.  Myron graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1965 and entered pilot training in Selma, Alabama, just a few months after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s civil rights march to Montgomery.
Myron flew with the 497 Attack Fighter Squadron.  For 6 months he flew night missions in a F-4 Phantom at 500 miles under 500 feet, looking for the lights of the trucks that were his targets. Following, he was reassigned to day missions when his targets became Migs, enemy aircraft.  On his 73rd mission, in 1968, Myron was shot down by a Mig near Hanoi.  He parachuted into the middle of a rice paddy and was captured by the farmers who held him until the military picked him up. 
Myron was held as a POW for over 5 years at the ‘Hanoi Hilton’.  After a stint in the New Guy Village, where his ‘resistance was tested’, he was moved to Las Vegas, where the prison buildings were named for Las Vegas casinos.  Myron spared us details of his treatment while held.  Extraordinarily, however, he was able to learn French, Spanish, and German from fellow POWs.  When Myron was asked to pose for a propaganda photo, he was able to pose while giving a subtle finger.
Myron’s family was unaware that he was alive until he was allowed to write a letter home after 3 years of his imprisonment.  After another 2 years, the Paris Peace Accord was signed, and Myron was released. His first experience of freedom came when he smelled the perfume of the flight nurses that wafted in the air of the airstrip that started his journey home. On March 18, 1973, a picture of Myron greeting his wife on American soil was published in the Arizona Republic. 
Myron was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Stars, Air Medals, the Purple Heart and other awards and decorations. He has a B.S. in Basic Science, an M.A. in English Literature and an M.B.A. in Entrepreneurship, but worked for 25 years as a finish carpenter before completely retiring in 2012.
Myron has three sons: one is a registered nurse, one is a mechanical engineer, and the third is a prosthetic testing technician and a chef.
Respectfully submitted by Mary Straus