Steve Chitty, Brian McDonald, Gwendolyn Mollison, Mike Yates
April 26, 1925 – July 7, 1974
On a warm, balmy morning early in October,
1958, Captain Jack cut the single engine of the
tiny three-car ferry, and glided silently into the
slip. My dream-like reflections of ten years of
falcon trapping on the barren barrier island of
Assateague we now approached were halted when
I noticed a station wagon on shore. It was posi-
tioned at the front of a line of cars which waited
to board the ferry for the return trip to the main-
land. Perched atop the hood was a fellow in his
early thirties, clean-cut, square-jawed, with dark,
wavy yet close-cut hair topping a well-tanned face.
His broad mouth was set in a grin which spread,
it appeared, from ear to ear.
Even before an assessment of the equipment in and
on the wagon identified him as a fellow falcon-seeker,
the energy, friendliness and air of sincerity and moral
strength about him produced an immediate liking
for him before we ever spoke. This, my first impres-
sion of Doug Mollison, reinforced through the fol-
lowing years of our friendship, personified his
personality and character. One did not have to
probe extensively to feel Doug’s friendship and
sincerity. It was as unrestricted as portrayed in his
face those many years ago.
As we pulled down the ramp, I noticed that the
wagon had left its place of prominence in the line
waiting to board the ferry and pulled to the side.
As we bled air from our tires, preparing to hit the
beach, Doug approached us, hand outstretched,
his face still in a broad, friendly grin. It was here
that I first learned of another of Doug’s ingrained
characteristics: nothing was ever so important
that it could keep him from making a new friend.
He truly cared more about people than anything
else. After introducing my wife and myself, we af-
firmed that falcons were the reason for our mutu-
al presence. Doug told us that he was a captain in
the U.S. Army, newly arrived from a tour of duty
on Taiwan, and a family man with five children.
He was presently stationed at the Pentagon and
lived not too far from our home. This initial con-
versation led us into a deep friendship that was to
endure until Doug’s tragic and untimely death in
July of 1974.
A short time later we were pleased that Doug paid
us a visit, bringing with him his three daughters
and two sons. It was immediately apparent to
Joanne and me (recent newlyweds with no chil-
dren of our own) that these children were a plea-
sure to be with and enjoy. Their brightness, good
manners, sense of joy, humor and friendliness
confirmed the environment of good character in
their home. In the years to come some or all of
them joined us in trapping, hunting and eyrie ex-
ploration trips. The fun and excitement their pres-
ence provided has never been forgotten. I join
them in remembrance of Doug’s larder of hard-
boiled eggs and saltines for the four mile trek up
the face of Jump Mountain to the eyrie thereon.
Following Doug’s graduation from high school in
July, 1943, he enlisted in the Army and in 1946 was
assigned to Europe. During his tour in Europe,
his interest in falconry became intense, probably
as a result of the friendships he established with
German and Austrian falconers. It was about this
time that he began to collect falconry-related books
and equipment. He returned to the U.S. in 1947
and was honorably discharged.
He attended the Georgetown University School
of Foreign Service, Washington D.C. in 1947-
48, and was commissioned 2nd Lt., Infantry, in
1948. In 1950 he volunteered for combat duty
in Korea, where he served as an infantry platoon
leader and company commander. Doug told me
of being in foxhole positions during lulls in close
combat high in the hills of North Korea and of
watching and counting the migrating hawks and fal-
cons as they made their way south. When Doug re-
turned-to California in 1952, he entered the U.S.
Army language school at the Presidio, studying
Mandarin Chinese. He then went to the Graduate
School for Far Eastern Studies at Yale University.
In 1954 he attended the Infantry Officers
Advanced Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. All
during this very active period in his military career
he maintained his avid interest in falconry although
active practice of the sport was difficult.
From 1955 to 1957, Doug served as a foreign area spe-
cialist on the staff of the U.S. Army Attaché in Taipei,
Taiwan, and traveled extensively in the Far East.
Doug said that although the travel during this period
prohibited his active participation in falconry, it only
served to sharpen his ardor for the sport.
And so it was that, immediately following this
period in Doug’s career, it became my good for-
tune to meet him that day on the sandy shores of
Assateague. For the next four years he and I spent
countless hours trapping, training and hunting with
falcons. We talked, ate, breathed and slept fal-
conry. Now free to pursue his lifelong interest in
the sport, Doug threw himself wholeheartedly into
the fray.
There were wonderful fall and winter trapping
trips on the Carolina coast (by then Assateague was
declining due to human encroachment and govern-
ment restriction). There were the countless
spring trips to literally scores of Eastern eyrie
sites in vain attempts to locate remnant nesting
anatums. There were the hours and hours of falcon
flying on the open park spaces opposite Washington,
D.C. and adjacent to Doug’s quarters at Fort
Myer, Virginia. Due to lack of mews facilities on
post, Doug bought an old station wagon and turned
Photo by Mike Yates
it into a mews. He blacked out the windows and
parked it in his reserved space outside his apart-
About this time a small group of area falconers met on
the porch of Alva Nye’s home in McLean, Virginia.
The Potomac Falconers Association was born, and
Doug Mollison was in the thick of it, a most ardent
supporter and worker. For several years he served
as its Secretary. During this period Doug also
volunteered his services to put on youth lectures in
raptor conservation and falconry for the U.S. Park
Doug accomplished much for the sport of falconry,
considering the demands of his professional career,
and much of his success was due to the kind of a man
he was: a gentleman always with other falconers,
soft spoken, yet firm in his convictions, but always
aware that people came first.
In 1962 Doug met and married his second wife,
Gwendolyn, who shared his interest in the pursuit of
falconry and wildlife, his love of music, prose and po-
etry, and his devotion to home and family. They
spent three years in Hawaii, then returned to the
D.C. area, renewing old friendships with the mem-
bers of the Potomac Falconers Association. He
continued his active participation in the group to
the day of his passing. Doug will long be remem-
bered by all.
Dougs country recognized his deep love and devo-
tion to his country by awarding him, among his many
decorations, the Legion of Merit, the Silver Star, the
Bronze Star and the Meritorious Service Medal.
Doug’s devotion to and belief in the Almighty Creator
are best conveyed in his own words:
A POEM OF FAITH by D. A. Mollison
It is strength and goodness of spirit
That adds to the measure of life.
It is genuine love and affection
That bolsters the meeting of strife.
It is fellowship warm and enduring
That insures all frictions will cease.
But we must turn humble eyes toward
For life’s meaning and beauty and peace.
—by Brian B. McDonald
Hawk Chalk, Vol. XIV, No. 2, August 1975