Donald Leroy Jardine died Monday, October 23, 2023, at age 97.
Don was born July 7, 1926, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and grew up in Rigby, Idaho with his parents and his four younger brothers and sisters.
Once, when Don was in Elementary School, a barnstorming pilot landed his airplane in a nearby pasture and offered rides to the townsfolk. Don was thrilled he was able to touch the airplane. Don was 15 when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. At 16, he moved to Ogden with his dad, living in a hotel, attending Ogden High School, and working at the Utah Army Quartermaster Supply Depot, as a shift manager of the messaging department. Later he changed jobs and worked in the Hill Field air base. He wanted to join the fight and he wanted to be a pilot. At 17, too young for enlistment in the U.S. Air Corps, he decided to join the Canada’s air force, and was accepted, but then learned that if he fought for Canada he would lose his U.S. citizenship. So he joined the Marines. Flying would have to wait.
Don was thrown into battle while still 17 years old, training in Camp Pendleton and Hawaii, then shipping off to Saipan, where the U.S. bombardment was underway. He was not sent ashore at Saipan, but later he was sent ashore when the Marines stormed the beaches of the island of Tinian. Next thing he knew he was in an Army hospital back in Saipan, with shrapnel in his knee. He was released, but soon after, was back in a hospital tent with gangrene in his leg. As the surgeon was preparing to amputate his leg, the air raid sirens went off and bombs started exploding from a Japanese air attack. The doctors, overwhelmed with new, urgent patients, cauterized his knee and stuffed it with sulfa. Don’s leg was saved, but it was painful for the rest of his life.
Later, on patrol in the Saipan jungles, Don served as “point man” for his platoon—moving ahead of the rest as they moved through the terrain. In a firefight, a grenade exploded a few feet from him. He somehow was not struck, but the shock wave left him blinded for three terrifying days.
Later in Saipan, he had a much more pleasant assignment. He competed for and was chosen as a “qualified combat swimming instructor,” where he spent ten weeks teaching specialized combat swimming techniques to other Marines.
After Japan surrendered, Don was with a small group who first entered into Nagasaki after the bombing. He had learned a little Japanese and was asked to accompany the commanding officer on an inspection trek by foot through the atom bomb ruins. Unlike some of his companions, Don avoided radiation burns by not sitting on any objects.
Soon after, Don received an honorable discharge. He had been awarded two Purple Hearts. He was still a teenager.
Don returned home. He earned two degrees from Weber College in Ogden, a master’s degree from the University of Utah, and years later, a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota.
And he finally was able to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot. Over the years, Don flew 26 different types of airplanes, culminating in the privilege of being taken on a flight from Hill Field in a T-33 trainer jet, where he was allowed to take the controls over the Utah desert.
Don taught at Juab High School, Bountiful High School, the University of Utah, and the University of Minnesota, and was director of Education at Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis, Minnesota for 35 years.
Don met his the love of his life after the War, one night at Lagoon. He and some buddies stopped by the Merry-Go-Round, where a pretty redhead was running the ride. One of the guys asked, “Is this ride dangerous?” and she replied, “No, we strap little boys on.” That night, Don told his mother he had met the girl he was going to marry.
Don and Carol married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 2, 1951. He always called her his angel and treated her as such their entire life. Carol passed away in 2007, and Don has spent the last sixteen years looking forward to the day he could be with her again. That day finally has arrived.
Don and Carol had three children, Jill, Tod and Kent. They have ten grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren.
Don has faithfully served in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his long lifetime, not only serving in many positions himself, but supporting his wife and family in their service.
Don loved drawing. Generations of small children have begged their parents to let them sit by Brother Jardine during sacrament meeting, so they could watch him as he deftly turned out page after page of darling cartoons, of all subject matters. After the meeting, he would always give a few to his tiny friends. He could not go to a restaurant without drawing on the paper place mat or even on a napkin, which he usually gave to an admiring waitress.
Don’s funeral service will be held Friday, October 27, 2023, in the Ephraim 4th Ward chapel at 765 South 100 East, Ephraim, Utah, at 10:00 a.m., with a viewing beforehand from 8:30 a.m. through 9:45 a.m. Don will be buried next to his angel wife in the Farmington, Utah cemetery Friday afternoon. Funeral services will be provided by Russon Mortuary & Crematory.
Services will be streamed live on the Russon Brothers Mortuary Facebook page and on this obituary page. The live stream will begin about 10-15 minutes prior to the service and will be posted below.