WALDOBORO, Maine — A rumble filled the air at the end of Don Campbell’s interment Sunday afternoon, and scores of islanders, bikers, pilots, veterans and family members looked up to see several small airplanes flying toward the small cemetery.
The planes were performing the missing-man formation for Campbell, a 56-year-old pilot with Penobscot Island Air who died Wednesday when his plane crashed in windy conditions on Matinicus Island. Loud applause rang out as more than 100 people who had gathered at Seiders Cemetery gave their own salute for their fallen friend.
“That’s his other family,” said Peter Leland of Orrs Island, gesturing toward the sky.
Leland wore the uniform of the Portland chapter of STAR Touring and Riding, a family-oriented motorcycle riding group to which Campbell belonged.
Dozens of bikers attended the funeral, with several standing outside Hall Funeral Home holding the American flag at solemn attention throughout the ceremony.
Jean Lawrence, a family friend of the Campbells’ who officiated at the funeral, said that an estimated 250 people packed the building and overflowed outside, listening to the ceremony over a loudspeaker.
“He touched many people’s lives,” she said.
Speakers at Campbell’s funeral talked about how he grew up on the family farm in Waldoboro and knew as a young boy that he wanted to fly one day. He served in the U.S. Army for 21 years, spending time in the Persian Gulf during Desert Storm before retiring in 1993 and moving back to the coast of Maine.
“He knew planes, and he knew how it felt to fly,” Lawrence said during the service. “He never tired of the adventure and the beauty of the natural world.”
When he wasn’t in an airplane or on his Harley-Davidson, Campbell was a devoted family man, speakers said. He cherished his wife, Robyn, and their daughter, Beth.
At the interment, his daughter and widow held each other while soldiers with the Maine Military Funeral Honors program folded the flag that had covered his wooden casket and presented it to Robyn Campbell.
Earlier, a U.S. Army honor guard had fired three volleys for Campbell and a bugler played taps.
Kevin Waters, owner of Penobscot Island Air, spoke at length about Campbell’s humorous, dependable presence around the flying company where he had been a longtime employee.
Then he lost his composure, the tears evident in his voice.
“Right now, our hearts are broken,” Waters said. “We need to take Donnie’s spirit and press on and do what Don would like us to do. Ride bikes. Go fishing. Live life with zest and happiness, just like he did.”