Text Box: On Saturday, July 21, the Transylvania County Honor Guard recognized a veteran of World War II at Hendersonville Presbyterian Church. The ceremony was somber, moving and unusual in two respects.
First, it was performed in Henderson County, and second, the veteran being honored had been a member of the British Royal Navy.
Douglas Davidson was born in 1925 in Airdrie, Scotland. In 1942, at age 16, he joined the British Royal Navy and served in World War II aboard the destroyer HMS Opportune.
During the war, the Opportune served with great distinction, escorting Allied Russian ships to the Soviet Union through the long Arctic nights.
Several years ago, the Russian government invited Davidson and others to visit Russia, in order to honor them for their service during the war. On the trip, Davidson met Princess Anne, the Queen’s sister, who was part of the visiting party.
Before and after the funeral service in the Presbyterian chapel, guests were able to observe a beautiful model of the USS Opportune, built by Davidson to commemorate his ship.
When Davidson’s family contacted the Transylvania County Honor Guard requesting a military presence at the funeral, members Howard Thiele, Doug Poad and Joe Parker sprang into action.
“We wanted to honor Mr. Davidson because he became a U.S. citizen and because England was our greatest ally in World War II,” said Thiele, Honor Guard commander. “We wanted the ceremony to reflect Mr. Davidson’s service in the British Royal Navy.”
“It was sort of a hybrid ceremony,” said Poad, Honor Guard chaplain. “I spoke with the Naval Attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. about the protocols of a British military service. We incorporated some of them into our ceremony.”
The Transylvania County Honor Guard’s ceremony included the British Navy Hymn (from which the U.S. derives its Navy Hymn), a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” played by local bagpiper R.J. Gray, “Last Call” (the British version of taps), a rifle salute by Mike Geremia followed by taps played by Joe Smith, and a meticulous folding of the Union Jack, the national flag of the United Kingdom, by Jim Bohn and Clentis Williams.
“We were all very emotional,” said Davidson’s son, Doug. “I was in the Navy and it was hard to take taps and ‘Last Call.’ I am amazed at how much everyone did for us.”
Other Honor Guard members in attendance were Irene Williams, Lewis Powell, Joe Parker, Bill Bailey, Ron Severs, Larry Garafolo, James Boatwright and Jimmy McKinney.
The folded flag was presented by Poad to Davidson’s family members with the traditional British exhortation:
“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
“Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
“We will remember them.”

Local Honor Guard performs military funeral for WWII British sailor