Lt. Col. (Ret.) Donald J. Bonin(1944 - 2013)



Donald J. Bonin, 69, Lt. Col., Ret., of Eastham, MA, passed away peacefully with his family and friends by his side on Thursday (November 14, 2013). Born in Hartford on March 28, 1944, he was the son of the late Joseph U. and Dorothy Marie (Bublitz) Bonin. Don grew up in Wethersfield, attending schools there and graduating from Wethersfield High School. After an unsure attempt at the Priesthood, he decided on nursing school in New Britain, taking his courses at the hospital, Central CT State College and an elective six-month residence in Psychiatry at Norwich State Hospital. Immediately after school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and shortly thereafter, was sent to Vietnam to work in Casualty Staging. This experience was overwhelming, having a profound effect on the rest of his life. At that time, he decided to dedicate the rest of his life to do whatever possible to help others. In nursing, he had chosen the correct career. Don came home from Vietnam with all his limbs intact, but sent many home with none. Upon his return, he was stationed in San Antonio, TX, where he was privileged to attend the School of Aerospace Medicine, graduating with honors. This experience led him to a Tactical Aero Evacuation assignment in North Carolina. This unit was prepared to transport sick and wounded from all over the world. At this time, Don volunteered to return to Vietnam and transport wounded soldiers. After almost seven years of active duty in the Air Force, Don decided to experience civilian life. He moved to the Washington, DC area, where he was instrumental in opening a 200 bed hospital. Remaining in the USAF Reserves, he worked as an emergency room staff nurse, eventually becoming part of the hospital administration. After more than 20 years, he decided he needed another challenge. Noting the severe nursing shortage in the whole area, he decided to hire a handful of nurses and technicians to fill critical vacancies on a daily basis in hospitals throughout the area. Soon he purchased the necessary equipment to provide antilogous transfusion in the operating rooms of these same hospitals. During this same time, he left the Air Force to join a physician friend (and commander) in the U.S. Army Reserve and learn to practice nursing in a transportable Field Hospital. Don was delighted and felt secure to see his Air Force friends flying in support of the hospital mission. Soon Desert Storm broke out in Iraq and Don found himself on active duty once again. This time the active duty component went to Iraq and the Reserve unit staffed Walter Reed Medical Center, the place all casualties would be flown to. He was in charge of running 16 operating rooms, 24 hours a day. Fortunately, this only lasted 100 hours and the casualties were serious but few. In six months, he was released back to civilian life and his business, which thanks to his excellent co-workers, was running smoothly. Don was soon to retire from the military, after over 23 years, as a decorated Lieutenant Colonel. He decided to slow down a bit and built a house on Cape Cod, which would contain the business office and allow him to live close to his parents once again. Things went well for a couple of years, and then in his absence, the business began to deteriorate. He chose to close the business and retired to Cape Cod, where he lived the remainder of his life. Don was an artistic man, enjoying painting and jewelry making during his retirement. He was a kind spirited, generous man who always gave to others. A loving brother and uncle, he will be dearly missed by his five siblings, Jack Bonin and his wife Joan of Marlborough, Robert Bonin and his wife Mary Anne of Wethersfield, Tim Bonin and Pamela Singarella of Manchester, Joan Fries of Marlborough and Elizabeth "Betsy" Hence and her husband Phillip, who Don considered his brother, of South Windsor; his best friends, Randy Taylor and Goncalo Verissimo, as well as many nieces and nephews. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday (November 23) at 10 a.m. at Corpus Christi Church, 601 Silas Deane Hwy., Wethersfield. Everyone is asked to go directly to the church. Burial with full military honors will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery, Glastonbury. In honor of Don's wishes, there will be no calling hours. Donations in Don's memory may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675. The D'Esopo Funeral Chapel, Wethersfield has been assisting the family. For online expressions of sympathy, please visit www.desopo.com.



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Published in The Hartford Courant on Nov. 20, 2013