Donald J. Harlin

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Chaplain Major General Donald J. Harlin, U. S. Air Force (Retired), 79, died Monday, February 9, 2015 at LaGrange Hospice, LaGrange, GA.

Chaplain Harlin was born August 14, 1935 and raised in New York, NY, the son of Edward and Bess Harlin. He and his wife moved to LaGrange, GA in 2006. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a son, Matthew Harlin; sister-in-law, Polly Harlin; brother-in-law, John Brydon.

He leaves to cherish his memory, his wife of 56 years, Carol (McCandless) Harlin; his son, Tim Harlin and his wife Beth (Gresham); his daughter in-law Cheryl (Celis); grandchildren, TJ, Katie, Rachel, Rebecca; brother and sister-in-law, Wilbur and Caroline Harlin; brother-in-law, Doug Harlin; sister-in-law, Norma Brydon; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Jim and Gina McCandless; 18 nephews and nieces; surviving guide dog and loyal companion, Valerie; and deceased guide dog and loyal companion, Goldie.

Chaplain Harlin was the Chief of Chaplains, United States Air Force, from 1991 until 1995. His military career spanned thirty years. Chaplain Harlin is an ordained minister of the American Baptist Churches, USA. His civilian pastorates were in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Freeland/Hazleton, Pennsylvania. He holds the Bachelor of Science degree from Nyack College, Master of Divinity degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and the Doctor of Divinity degree (honorary) from Nyack College. He is also a graduate of the Air Force's Air Command and Staff College, and the Hadley School for the Blind.

Don began his Air Force career in 1965. Among his favorite assignments were Arlington National Cemetery, and faculty member and Commandant of the Air Force Chaplain School in Montgomery, Alabama. His overseas assignments were in Vietnam, Okinawa (Japan), and Korea. He served as the Command Chaplain of Air Education and Training Command, Air University, and Air Combat Command. He became Deputy Chief of Chaplains (Brigadier General) in 1988, and Chief of Chaplains in 1991.

His major military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters. He was awarded Outstanding Military Chaplain of the Year by the American Baptist Churches, USA, in 1977 and 1995, the only chaplain to receive that award twice.

Chaplain Harlin also served as the Air Force Association (AFA) National Chaplain. He is a Gold Lifetime Member of the Air Force Association, Military Officers Association of America, Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans and the 8th Air Force Historical Society. He was appointed by Governor Bill Richardson to the State Rehabilitation Council of the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. In 2005 Governor Richardson appointed him as one of three commissioners on the New Mexico Commission for the Blind. He served two terms as the President of the New Mexico chapter of the Blinded Veterans Association. He also attended The Southwest Blind Rehabilitation Center in Tucson, Arizona, and the Southeast Blind Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham, Alabama.

In October, 2006, Chaplain Harlin participated in dedication ceremonies for the newly-inaugurated Air Force Memorial, in Arlington, Virginia, which were presided over by President George W. Bush. He also served on the Board of Directors of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, LaGrange, GA.

Funeral Services will be held 11:00 am Friday, February 13, 2015 at First United Methodist Church of LaGrange with Dr. Harold Lawrence officiating. The gathering of family and friends will follow the service in the church fellowship hall. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to one of these worthwhile organizations: Guide Dogs for the Blind [[email protected]]; First United Methodist Church of LaGrange [[email protected]]; LaGrange Hospice []; or the Air Force Association []

Those wishing to share a condolence or remembrance with the family may do so by visiting

Arrangements are by Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, 1010 Mooty Bridge Road, LaGrange, GA 30240 (706) 884-8636

Published in LaGrange Daily News from Feb. 12 to Feb. 13, 2015
Arrangements under the direction of:
Striffler-Hamby Mortuary
1010 Mooty Bridge Road | LaGrange, GA 30241 | (706) 884-8636
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