When Marietta native Paul M. Badgley died in 2003 at the age of 61, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery without the typical pomp and circumstance of military funeral rights, and without any formal obituary.
It was not that the retired senior sergeant major did not deserve it, however.
Because he refused to accept any recognition for his dedication to the U.S. Air Force and extensive work for the U.S. Embassy, his brother Don Badgley, two years his senior, honored his wishes and waived all the extra grandeur.
Photo Submitted by Don Badgley
Marietta native Paul M. Badgley, left, who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery after serving nearly 22 years of active duty in the U.S. Air Force, receives some of his earliest certification toward the beginning of his service period.
But now, as Arlington National Cemetery celebrates its 150th anniversary, Don, now 74 and living in Williamstown, said a decade is long enough to give his little brother the recognition he deserves.
"I don't think he would be upset, and I'm not, because I'm very proud of him," Don said. "He was aggressive with life, and when so many people would use life as an alibi, he pushed through it and became successful."
Paul Badgley was born on Feb. 26, 1942, and though he and Don shared a mother, the boys grew up in separate homes.
Paul M. Badgley
Born: Feb. 26, 1942.
Died: May 9, 2003 (age 61).
Burial: Arlington National Cemetery; Plot: Section 5-HH Row 7 Site 2.
U.S. Air Force: Senior Sergeant Major.
Active service: 1962-1983.
"We had a split-up family, because I was raised by my grandparents, and he was raised in a children's home in Marietta," Don said. "Our mother had a serious illness that left her unable to take care of us."
Don said he was lucky to be the one child his grandparents were able to take in, but it was his brother's tough childhood that Don said made him the strong, determined soldier he grew to become.
"He qualified for college out of high school but like a lot of people had no income, so he joined the service instead," Don said.
Paul enlisted with the U.S. Air Force in 1962, and gave the country nearly 22 years of active military service, which took him to California, Texas, Illinois, Alabama and Washington D.C.
More than two decades of active service earned Paul the opportunity to attend the Community College of the Air Force, from which he graduated in 1979 with a degree to become an administrative assistant, though Don said the degree got put aside.
Instead, Paul spent four years in New Mexico with the U.S. Defense Attache's office in the U.S. Embassy, performing a long list of various civil service duties.
He retired from the Air Force in 1983, and went on to serve for the American Battle Monuments Commission, where he was able to travel the world.
Once Paul became sick, eventually breaking a hip, Don brought him back to Marietta in the 1990s, though his brother refused to move in with him.
"He was such a private person, and he really wanted his independence, even then," said Dolores Badgley, Don's wife of 50 years.
Don and Dolores took Paul to live at Arbors at Marietta, where they would visit him as much as possible.
"We grew up separate, but toward the end we had a truly great relationship with each other," Don said.
Don said in addition to traveling the world as a U.S. ambassador, his brother also served on Air Force committees for homeless veterans, and was a strong advocate of establishing more locations to house returning service men and women to keep them off the streets.
Paul Badgley died in Marietta of a brain tumor at the age of 61 in 2003, a life that though cut short, was one Don said was full and admirable.
"When he was about to expire, he said, 'Don, I never believed you'd do this for me, I love you,'" Don said. "Now, I wish I could be more like him, because he did everything in his life with no support from anyone."