By MARY MARGARET BROWN
(Editor’s Note: Sometimes you think you know someone and then you find out that you really do not. So we wanted to share the thoughts of a grieving aunt about her nephew. A view many of us never got to see. Though we rarely do this, I thought it was appropriate to recognize a hero.)
His obituary read like this.
Major Danny Wayne Duffy, formerly of Stanton and now Lexington, passed away on August 10, 2015 at his home at 144 Londonderry Drive, Lexington, of a cardiovascular heart infraction. He was born in the Mary Chiles Hospital on November 16, 2015 in Mt. Sterling, Ky. He attended Mt. Sterling Elementary and Stanton schools where he graduated from Stanton High School in 1965. He was the son of Louise Brown Duffy Williams and Joe Duffy, who are deceased.
Danny was baptized into the First Baptist Church of Stanton as a youngster. He was buried with full military honors in the Stanton Cemetery.
Funeral services were held Friday, August 14, 2015 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday August 15, 2015 at 10:00 a.m. with the Reverend Mary Margaret Brown officiating accompanied by Sam Brown, Wayne Fortney, and John D. Kelly. Pall bearers were: Danny Martin, C. B. Martin, Johnny Stewart, Chris Abner, Gary Abner, Kathyrn Cox, Ava Mae White, Nell Orme, and Larry Gene Brown.
Danny had several mentors while growing up in Stanton, beginning with his maternal grandparent, Ollie Brown along with I.D. Hearne, Arthur Williams, Rose Swope, Bill Orme, and others that I do not know. He had his own dark room in a building at the back of his home that his grandfather fixed for him to develop pictures, which became a lifelong hobby. He videotaped C. W. Fortney’s funeral for his good friend, Wayne. At 18 or 19 he was encouraged by I.D. Hearne to prepare for Vietnam and took his first solo flight in Lexington, where his experience enabled him to join the elite flying group of helicopter pilots, called the Huey Cobra, or gunships. He was stationed at Pleiuku, where it was considered some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. He was a member of the 361 Panther Division of helicopter pilots.
While in service, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal: Bronze Star Medal for bravery on 28 missions; Army Commendation Medal; Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal )4 campaigns; Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal; Army Aviation Badge; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; Armed Forces Reserve Components Achievement Medal, in addition to numerous letters of commendations from a number of generals, presidents, etc. He was commissioned on the battlefield to Captain, and in California he was the Project Director of Fort Irwin, California Camp located near Barstow, California. He received a medal for an expert rifleman. He was in charge of the movement of millions of dollars of equipment moving from Los Angeles to Barstow.
After high school, he attended the University of Kentucky for a short time and was drafted into the Army. While stationed in California he received his AA Degree from San Bernadino Junior College in business. He attended the California State University in Los Angeles and Long Beach for 3 1/2 years with a major in Computer Science. He held a private pilot’s license. He received a certificate from the University of California for a Paralegal and had two years of law school from the same school. He was a notary public in the state of Kentucky.
He attended OCS school and graduated as a second Lieutenant at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. He was the Director of a military installation, Ft. Irwin, in Barstow California, for several years, where large equipment was kept in the dessert to prevent rust. This is the first time that helicopters were used in battle and he flew a Huey Cobra, a gunship. The army at first wanted him to fly a reconnaissance helicopter but he went to the Pentagon and asked for the Heuy Cobra, the gunship. A man in Lexington that was stationed at Pleiuku with him said, “Everyone said if the ‘Duff’ came after you, you would get out.”
He was commissioned as a captain on the battlefield. He had reached the rank of Major by the time he retired from the 6th Army. For several years, he was director of an army installation at Ft. Irwin at Barstow, Ca. He also had an office in Los Angeles with another secretary, but we don’t know what he did there. He retired early to pursue a career of refurbishing buses used during the Olympics and chartering them to shuttle people from Barstow to Ft. Irwin. When the economy took a turn for the worst, he went to New York where he became a stock broker with J.H. Darby and Company and held that job for several years, in Montreal, Canada and also in Lexington.
He lived in Montreal, Canada for a few years as a stock broker and also opened a restaurant. He returned to Lexington and Stanton and helped his Aunt Mary publish her first book as he did the graphics for two and found a publisher for the first. He also assisted the aunt start her TV program and they later went into the property management business.
He had three and one half years of college from the University of Southern California and two years of law school which he used to work for the former district attorney, John Cox of Stanton. A strong bond was developed between these ex-military men. John’s wife Kathryn told us she considered him as a second son. She prayed for him every day and had Stanton Christian Church on their prayer list.
He was a unique man who was not one to boast but met all adversaries with a calm demeanor and logic. He was the best lawyer you could get if he was defending his aunt and himself against lawsuits.
He is survived by his two siblings and a special bond with an aunt who has been with him during his several months of hospitalization at the VA in Lexington. His stay at the hospitals in Lexington was marked by the love and concern shown him when he left, by the VA staff. We are thankful for their great care. We would like to give a grateful thank you to Congressman Hal Rogers’ office in Somerset who worked tirelessly to see that his lost medals arrived in time for the funeral.
He was a unique individual who had great nurturing skills when he took care of his dying mother and made the quality of her life much better before her demise. He had learned these skills earlier in taking care of his beloved grandmother, who suffered from migraines. He sat with his Uncle Sam while he took his MRI, and held his hand so he wouldn’t be afraid.
His mentors in Stanton were Bill Orme, Arthur Williams, Rose Swope, and I. D.Hearne as he took an active part in school activities, and also his grandfather Ollie Brown taught him about livestock and living. He rode Uncle Cordis’ palomino horse and won ribbons for his horsemanship; he drove a truck for Sam his uncle as he grew into manhood. Rose Swope told he was a great public speaker, had a wonderful voice and had won some ribbons speaking. He had an extremely high IQ, as one of the teachers came by to tell his grandmother, after he had been tested. He was not arrogant but walked his own path with humility.
For those who knew him best, you would never hear him curse, lose control, or talk back to his elders. He didn’t talk about people as his words were few and he chose them wisely. He had an innate maturity about right and wrong from childhood, and helped many people find the right path.
He had traveled all over the world to Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe and that was what he liked best, especially when he was in the air. He bought a plane while living in California and flew into Stanton, where he took his 70 year old grandmother for her first and only air plane ride over the farm where we had lived in Mt. Sterling. She was delighted. She showed no fear as she was with her beloved grandson.
He was a most unusual man and lived his life on his own terms not according to the societal mores. He had stepped out on another big business venture in Lexington but he could not complete that mission. He was always learning and he was a whiz on the computers; building his own with parts coming in all over the world and helping others with computer problems.
While visiting him in California, he and his aunt had gone to a place where there were a lot of computers and we saw the newly elected Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown and his wife Phyllis. She wanted to introduce him to the governor but Danny was more interested in the computer than meeting a governor.
He never complained of pain or discouraged by what came about and was always telling his aunt “don’t worry.” He said he would live for twenty more years and needed more to do. He had been in the VA for several months and received excellent care. Once he went to Good Sam and they were especially nice.
The pilots who served in Vietnam have formed an organization and they publish a magazine (Vietnam pilots Assn.) that keeps in touch with the members. Danny had attended some of the meetings according to a former pilot who said he had met Danny in Washington. He wanted a copy of his funeral services brochure to take with him to the next meeting on Tuesday August 25, 2015.
As a member of the Brown family, our loss is great, because when will we find someone so unique and different. He was a born leader of the young people and showed them how to harvest honey and solve problems.
His candle burned brightly for a little while but he could not complete his latest mission to develop a new business, as he had a stroke in 2011, when his beloved aunt Jean became ill. He marched to a different drummer but always with a positive outlook on life and what mission he could accomplish.
I believe he would want to thank the people of Powell County for all their love and support through the years and especially during the funeral.
Rest in peace Powell County hero. (August 18, 2015)