Al Dalton Laid To Rest

The morning of September 14th started gray and overcast as family and the military family of VVA Chapter 223 met at Santa Rosa Memorial Park at 10:00 am for the military funeral of Alan Blaine Dalton, Secretary of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 223. The service was conducted by Dwight E. Jungkeit of the InFaith Mission. Songs (The Old Rugged Cross and Amazing Grace) were lead by Dennis J. Durham, Pastor of St. Mark Lutheran Church here in Santa Rosa accompanied with his guitar. The always moving flag ceremony was performed by Commander Todd and two petty officers of the United States Navy. Unfortunately due to an equipment malfunction only the first two notes of taps were played. Alan was buried in a simple wood coffin and as it was lowered the sun began to peek out and shine over the cemetery. A memorial service with over 100 attendees was held at Daniels Chapel of the Roses at 2:00 pm followed by a reception at St Mark Lutheran Church.

(Excerpts taken from Hello/Goodbye by David Dalton) Alan was born in October 1940 in St. Louis Missouri. During WWII the family moved briefly to San Francisco but moved back to St. Louis after the war. The West Coast left an impression on the toddler and thought of it often. As a child, Alan began working almost as soon as he could pick up a screw driver. At the age of 13, when his step father passed away, he ran the family radio and television repair shop to help support the family. He also worked as a paper boy, flower and drug store delivery boy, bowling alley pinsetter and at the age of 18 enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

Alan attained a job rating of AT1 or Aviation Electronics Technician (Petty Officer 1 E-6), which made sense for kid who grew up fixing radios and TV’s. In 1963 he had a chance encounter with the captain of the carrier U.S.S. Coral Sea asked him what he wanted to do in the Navy. Apparently the response was FLY. As promised, at Alan’s next promotion, the Captain signed orders to flight school which lead to navigation school, weapons school, and nuclear weapons school. Once back to the fleet, he was attached to Heavy Attack Squadron VAH-2 (HATRON2) Royal Rampants stationed at Whidbey Island, WA. There he was a bombardier/navigator in a A3 Sky Warrior. Alan was one of the last non-commissioned personnel to fly in the U.S. Navy.

In 1968 after serving in Vietnam he was transferred to NAS Pt. Mugu/NAS China Lake joining VX-4 “The Evaluators” where he designed, built, installed, tested, and evaluated much of the origins of today’s electronic warfare and stealth technology. During this assignment he was flying the F4 Phantom.

About this time Alan met Shirley and decided that he accomplished everything he set out to do in the Navy. So after almost twelve years he left the Navy for a girl and to start a family. He worked for several companies as technician, became a successful entrepreneur and savvy businessman.

Although Alan was stationed for a time in 1966 and 1967 at Da Nang airbase in Vietnam all of his missions were considered classified, so there are no official records of him being stationed there. The Department of Defense was (and still is) unwilling to release any records that would have qualified him for benefits. This became the basis for the VA to deny his claim for exposure to Agent Orange starting an 11 year battle to receive the benefits for which he was entitled to. During this time Alan lost both legs and had a kidney transplant as a result of his Agent Orange exposure. Finally in 2015 his case was accepted after a fellow veteran remembered serving with him in Vietnam and wrote a letter attesting to his in-country presence.

Once he began to receive benefits Alan started remodeling his house to be more accommodating for his disabilities. Again fate intervened as the house is still not complete with the contractor walking off the job months ago. About the same time Alan had to go into the hospital for complications due to his amputations leaving him never to have enjoyed the results of the remodel.

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