Maj. Michael W. Donnelly
Samsel & Carmon Funeral Home
419 Buckland Road
South Windsor, CT

DONNELLY, Maj. Michael W., USAF. Ret Major Michael W. Donnelly, United States Air Force (retired) On Thursday, (June 30, 2005) Major Michael W. Donnelly, 46, died after a relentless ten-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. His loved ones were at his side at the time of his death. Before retiring with military honors in 1996, Major Donnelly, a dedicated career fighter pilot, served his nation proudly. Over the course of his 15-year career, he flew first the A-10 Warthog and then the F-16 Falcon. During Operation Desert Storm he completed 44 F-16 combat missions over Iraq as a member of the 10th Tactical Fighter Squadron stationed at Hahn Air Force Base in Germany. At the time of his retirement, he was serving as Chief of Standardization and Evaluation while assigned to the 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. Upon his retirement, Major Donnelly received the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding service to the United States. In this role, Major Donnelly trained NATO fighter pilots from over 16 countries and developed entirely new flying operations for the largest flying training wing in the world. His many other honors included the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Top Gun award. Diagnosed with ALS in 1996, Major Donnelly spent the next nine and a half years in the service of his fellow gulf war veterans, thousands of whom are suffering from a host of debilitating and life-threatening illnesses brought about by exposure to nerve agents and other toxins, spent depleted uranium munitions and experimental vaccines. In 1998, Major Donnelly published a book, Falcon's Cry: A Desert Storm Memoir, that chronicled his struggle. Untiring in his labors, he testified before Congress, appeared on numerous television and radio news and talk shows and granted interviews to countless newspapers and magazines for as long as his faculties allowed and even after they no longer did. Notably, he appeared on the Larry King Show, gained coverage for his cause in the Hartford Courant, the New York Times, the Washington Times, the Boston Globe, People, the Journal Inquirer and many other news outlets large and small in the United States and Europe. After six years of courageous and impassioned effort, and while suffering greatly from the progression of his own illness, Major Donnelly was the prime mover behind the government's acknowledgement of the connection between service in Operation Desert Storm and the elevated incidence of ALS. As a result, scores of gulf war veterans suffering from ALS were immediately granted retroactive service-connection status, which resulted in the payment of the veterans' benefits they earned when they served their country. In addition, his efforts led directly to the release of millions of dollars in federal research money to support the study of ALS incidence among gulf war veterans. Major Donnelly received a BA in history from Fairfield University in 1981 and an MBA from Midwestern University in 1995. In 2003, Fairfield University bestowed an honorary Juris Doctor degree upon him for his selfless service to his nation and to others. A warrior until the end, Major Donnelly never surrendered to the relentless progression of the degenerative disease that ended his life. Everyone who ever met him, whether hardened reporter or dear friend, fellow veteran, caretaker or politician, remarked upon his incredible grace and courage in the face of a terrible and invariably fatal illness. He had an infectious, crooked smile, a disarming wit and the dancing, mischievous blue eyes of an Irish charmer. Major Donnelly touched many, many hearts throughout his short life, but especially since his diagnosis with ALS. He will be greatly missed by all. He leaves a wife, Susan Allen Donnelly, and two children, Erin, 18, and Sean, 13, and his parents, Rae and Thomas Donnelly, all of South Windsor. He also leaves a sister and brother-in-law, Lisa and Michael Hayes, also of South Windsor, a brother and sister-in-law, Tim and Ana Donnelly, of Weston, and a sister, Denise Donnelly, of Rockport, MA. He also leaves five nieces and nephews, Emily and Madeleine Hayes and Olivia, Grace and Colin Donnelly. In lieu of flowers, his family kindly requests that donations be sent to the ALS Association of Connecticut, 4 Oxford Road, Milford, CT 06460. A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held Wednesday, July 6, at 10 a.m. at St. Margaret Mary Church, 80 Hayes Rd., South Windsor. His family will receive friends for memorial hours Tuesday, July 5, from 4-9 p.m. at Samsel & Carmon Funeral Home, 419 Buckland Rd., South Windsor. To leave on-line condolences please visit

Published by Hartford Courant on Jul. 2, 2005.
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31 Entries
Mike was one of the finest young men that I had the privilege of coaching. May he rest in peace.
Bob Hauck
May 29, 2006
I'm so sorry for you and your family. It saddened me to see your grieving picture in the paper. I didn't know your brother, but I knew you, so he must be awesome. I'm very proud of you, your writing, and how you stood by him.
My three boys went to East Catholic so I've followed his story through different ECHS publications.
Best wishes to you and yours.
Mr. "Hill" from Timothy
Edwards School
Jerry Hilliard
July 29, 2005
With My Deepest Sympathies to the Donnelly Family.

I was lucky enough to be at WDRC when Michael was promoting his book and I meet the greatest guy I could have known. Michael touched my heart and soul, and I always remembered him so vividly. I am so proud to have known him and to have been a part in what he was all about and his cause. Michael, it is now time for me to read your book, the waiting was done for a purpose I now understand fully. Rest in Peace Gentle Soul. With fondness.
Renee Antaya
July 12, 2005
To Maj. Donnelly's family,

You do not know me...but you know my Dad, Mike Kreuzer of East Windsor. He is currently riding his bike along the Lewis and Clark Trail to raise money for ALS research. My brother, Mike Jr. is beginning his 4th year with this dreadful disease. Unlike your Mike, ours was not in the service, he just had a bad turn of fate.

My family and I want to send you our deepest thoughts and prayers on the passing of Mike and will keep his family in our prayers.

Wishing you peace
Gretchen Levesque(Kreuzer)
July 7, 2005
I'm saddened to hear about Mike. I read his obituary and all I could think was what a courageous and great person. I stand in awe of his achievements – and am indebted to him for all the sacrifices he made for our country. I wish I had known Mike (I missed him by a few years at Fairfield U.). My Thoughts & Prayers. -George

btw, Tom was my first boss (Billings) and was such a good influence on me (razor sharp and a great wit). It sounds like Mike shared these noble qualities too.
George Urban
July 7, 2005
To the Donnelly family:

I wanted to express my heartfelt sorrow to your remarkable family concerning Mike. The Mike that I knew from college had a competitive spirit that served him after college in being an accomplished pilot and dealing with his disease. I know that each and everyone on our Fairfield University friends feel blessed to have known Mike. He loved our secret saying "GNAY." GNAY, Mike, and may you rest in peace.
Ted Tyma
July 7, 2005
Tom and Rae...
I am sorry to have been away over the weekend and not be able to deliver my thoughts in person. You and Michael have been in my prayers over the years, and I will remember him particularly at Mass tomorrow morning. God bless you both...
John Leary
July 6, 2005
My deepest sympathies are extended to Michael's family. Having worked with the National ALS Registry for Veterans for almost 2 years, Michael is well known to all who work here. May God bless you and bring you comfort--and hopefully soon we will find a cure for this dreadfull disease. Beverly
Beverly McCraw
July 6, 2005
I'm Jady Hay's Dad. Mrs Hay and I wish Mike's family and parents our heartfelt sympathy. These have surely been trying times. We have Falcon's Cry and have recomended it to many others as essentiual reading. Our love to you all.
Gordon Hay
July 6, 2005
To the Donnelly and Allen families, our thoughts and prayers are with you:

You can shed tears that he is gone
or you can smile because he has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that he'll come back or you can open your eyes and see all he's left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see him or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he's gone or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back or you can do what he'd want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.
Laura, Mark and Sam Laraia
July 6, 2005
Dear Mike, You fought to give us a better world and bravely endured a time of wounded wings. Now you’re flying again, much higher than ever. Don’t worry about our tears, we know you’re happy, it’s just hard for us to accept your departure from this earth we love so much. I wish you the best voyage to the place where we’ll meet again.
Raoul Tomasi
July 6, 2005
Dear Rae, Tom and family,
All I can say is what a "Hero" Mike was, in more ways than one. My deepest sympathy goes out to you and all of your family. I remember the last time I saw Mike and what a smile he had on his face when he talked of Carl. May all the best memories of Mike and all the happy times you had together remain with you forever.
Marie Passanisi-McDonald
July 6, 2005
To the Donnelly Family,
Although Mark and I are on vacation in DE, our thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this time. We wish we were able to stop at the wake and memorial service but due to timing we will not be able to make it. Your entire family should all be considered hero's along side Michael. God bless all of you and all of our hero's all over the world who are fighting to protect us!

Lauren (Miller) & Mark Cattel Cattel
July 6, 2005
Our condolences on Mike's passing. He was a great inspiration.
Kathy & Jon Hale
July 5, 2005
Denise, I am so sorry about your brother Michael. He did so much for so many. He is a true American hero. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Paula Jackson Hurley.
Paula Jackson Hurley
July 5, 2005
Mike, your last formation joinup with the Almighty. Kick the tires, light the fire, tickle the torch, grear up, flaps up, after burner, your got leads wing within a 1/4 turn, through the contrails,over the top, on to heaven. (Former F-100 driver, and Pontiac too)
Bill Krawski
July 4, 2005
To all of the wondeful Donnelly family: You are all in my prayers. I am a better person for having known Mike and am grateful for the time I spent with all of you. Barbara Kohout Pacelli
Barbara Kohout Pacelli
July 4, 2005
I am glad I got to know Michael before he came ill with ALS disease. Knowing him after made it easier to recognize him as a true American hero whose courage and determination were beyond belief in his valiant efforts to help other servicemen whose suffered injuries and disease from battle zones.He is in my prayers forever in my life.
Jim Throwe Brigadier General (ret) US Army
James Throwe
July 4, 2005
Our hearts and prayers go to Michael's loving, courageious family. Michael, more than anyone else in our lifetime, made us proud to be Americans.

May God comfort you in your hours of need.

With love and appreciation,
Caroline & Sid Blecherman
July 4, 2005
Major Mike was a great man, not only for what he did, but for who he was. This world is a better place for him being in it. He will be sorely missed.
My deepest condolences to his family.
Ashley Sheridan
July 3, 2005
Denise, You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Love Liz and Bob Murchie
Liz Murchie
July 2, 2005
We share deeply your grief over Michael's passing. He was a hero, not only in the Gulf War, but in the way he lived his life. His grace and courage were indeed an inspiration. Mike will forever be a hero in our hearts and we will sadly miss him. Our deepest sympathies and love to the entire Donnelly family. God Bless you high!!
Melanie, Ed and Gregory Gillis
July 2, 2005
He Has Slipped
The Surly Bonds of Earth...
Put Out His Hand
And Touched the Face of God

Thank you for all you did for our Country.
Nancy Weber
July 2, 2005
It was my privilege to be one of
Mike's history professors at Fairfield U. and to speak at his book ceremony in the Quick Center
and to meet all his great family
then. My heart and prayers are with you now and I know Mike is
blessing us all from Above. Of all
of my thousands of students over the years he is one of those of
whom I am most proud. His legacy
is truly manificent.
Paul I Davis
July 2, 2005
A classmate,friend,athlete,outdoorsma
n,aviator,warrior,husband and father.We will always remember and miss you Mike."to fly west my friend is a flight we all must take for a final check"-author unknown
glen and laura hacker
July 2, 2005
Mike -
You will be sorely missed. Not a day goes by that we don't think of you. Growing up you were a great friend and as an adult your accomplishments and courage are something we all aspire to. God Bless. Gary & Kathy Heckman.
Gary Heckman
July 2, 2005
"May those who
love us,love us
And those that
don't love us
May God turn
their hearts;
And if he doesn't
turn their hearts
May He turn
their ankles
So we'll know them
by their limping."
an old Gaelic blessing
Sincere condolences to the Donnelly warrior family from the Fogarty warrior family.
Bill Fogarty
July 2, 2005
Our thoughts and prayers are with your family on the loss of your loved one.
Bob & Kathy Sumislaski
July 2, 2005
Our family feels honored to have had the privilge of knowing Mike. He was a beautiful person, a true Man among Men. His courage is rarely seen these days, an inspiration to all of us. Our prayers to Sue Erin Sean and the entire Donnelly family and friends
Gary,Carol and Dave Schultz
July 2, 2005
Tom & Rae, Please accept our condolences on the tragic death of Michael. We know what a difficult time this has been for your family.
Please express our condolences to the rest of the family.
Herb & Gloria Byk
July 2, 2005
Our sincere sympathies for your loss.
Samsel & Carmon Funeral Home
July 2, 2005
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