David Darrell Ayres is finally home.
The U.S. Air Force veteran passed away in Aug. 17, 2013, but he was only buried yesterday morning at the Veterans Cemetery in Marpi, ending an almost two-year journey by his family to fulfill Ayres’ dying wish.
His burial yesterday was marked by a brief and solemn ceremony attended by Ayres’ first wife Bobby, oldest daughter Melissa, and granddaughters Gracie and Molly Doyle.
Melissa said that Ayres, who was born on March 13, 1940, loved Saipan so much it was his wish to be buried here.
“He absolutely loved it here and it was his home. It wasn’t until he got sick that he had to leave. He loved the fishing, he loved the golf and the beaches, and the laidback lifestyle,” Melissa said.
Ayres was forced to leave Saipan seven years ago after his kidney failed. At that time, there was no nephrologist on the island, so he left the place he pretty much considered home to seek extensive medical care in Austin, Texas, according to Bobby.
Ayres’ family had little details about his work, but believe he was an E-5 staff sergeant for the U.S Air Force. Melissa said her father told them little about his work and didn’t go into too much detail about it, but they felt his military work was top secret.
Bobby said that Ayres had a top-secret cryptic clearance. “When I first met him he told me he was in the U.S Air Force security service and I thought he went around checking buildings, windows, and doors. It wasn’t until I had known him for a while that he said he was involved in national security and that he wasn’t allowed to share information. He would be taken away in the middle of the night sometimes to go fly someplace and we never just asked any questions,” Bobby said.
As a father, Ayres was a great father, very attentive, and was always there, Melissa said. Even after Ayres moved to Saipan in 1988, Melissa said she kept in touch with him.
“I came out almost once a year and when I had the girls we’ve come out a few times since then and when he got sick and moved to Austin, Texas, we’d visit him there and my daughters had a lot of fun with their grandfather,” she said.
Although they eventually separated, Bobby said she and Ayres had wonderful early years together.
“I actually met him on his tour in Germany and followed him all over Europe including Britain. He and I were married in Switzerland and traveled extensively and he made me laugh everyday,” Bobby said.
They were supposed to scatter his ashes in the Saipan lagoon but Melissa said the family realized there was the veterans cemetery here and thought it would be a better choice to bury his ashes there so that they will have a place to visit him when they return.
Melissa lives in Idaho, while Bobby lives in Dandan and is currently working at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.
His longtime best friend, Steve Marron, had known Ayres since he got to Saipan. Marron arrived on Saipan just a couple of years before Ayres and the two clicked it off right away because both liked to golf, fish, and check things out.
“He took me in like an older brother or a second father. His love for history was great,” Marron said. “He was a very enjoyable person to be around with and he was a straight shooter. He said what he thought and he spoke the truth.”
CNMI Veterans Office director Vicente Camacho said it is always a special honor to hold a burial ceremony for a veteran.