- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 11, 2003

A bagpiper played a Scottish melody and a cold wind swept flowers from the grave site during a memorial service yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery for astronaut Dr. Laurel Blair Salton Clark who died during the explosion of Space Shuttle Columbia.
NASA officials said the song "Scotland the Brave" was the one Capt. Clark played to awaken her seven crew mates Feb. 1 when the shuttle disintegrated over Texas, just 16 minutes from a safe landing in Florida.
The graveside service began yesterday with four Marine F-18 jets swooping over the cemetery's Memorial Amphitheater. One flew at an angle to show the message: "Fly-By, Missing Man Formation."
Three U.S. flags and three medals honoring Capt. Clark were presented to her family while more than 70 sailors stood at attention and about 200 family members and friends watched in their winter coats.
One of the flags had flown at half-staff over Johnson Space Center in Houston since the Columbia disintegrated.
Presenters said Capt. Clark "far exceeded expectations" and that accomplishments "contributed significantly" to advancements in spaceflight.
Nearest to Capt. Clark's flag-draped casket were husband Dr. Jonathon Clark, also in the space program, and 8-year-old son Iain.
Capt. Clark was five months pregnant with Iain when the National Aeronautics and Space Administration selected her to train for a mission in space.
The service included six of Capt. Clark's 1996 NASA classmates as honorary pallbearers: Joan Higginbotham, Sandra Magnus, Lisa Novak, Julie Payette, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Stephenie Wilson. The service also included the Navy Band playing taps and "America the Beautiful." Seven sailors fired a 21-gun salute.
NASA and military technicians are still searching in New Mexico, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico for more clues to learn how the shuttle fell apart upon returning to Earth after 16 days in flight.
Capt. Clark's father, Robert Salton, 69, a farmer and carpenter living near Albuquerque, N.M., had gone outside the Saturday morning of the crash after hearing news that the Columbia would be passing overhead.
Newscasts minutes later informed him about the disaster.
Waiting in Florida for Capt. Clark were her sister, Lynne Salton, of Kansas City, Mo., and Capt. Clark's son and husband who had been living in Houston during her training.
Capt. Clark was born in Iowa, spent childhood years in New Mexico, then moved to Racine, Wis., with her mother, Margory Brown, after her parents divorced.
Her father has said Capt. Clark received straight A's at William Horlick High School before earning a scholarship that enabled her to earn a bachelor of science degree in zoology from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1983 and a doctorate in medicine in 1987 from the University of Wisconsin.
She continued her training during the 1980s, including assignments as an undersea medical officer trainee. She got a taste of Scottish music when she was assigned to Submarine Squadron 14 in Holy Loch, Scotland.
Capt. Clark enjoyed scuba diving, hiking, camping, biking, parachuting, flying and traveling. Her training and duties also took her to Arizona, Connecticut, Florida and the western Pacific.
Capt. Clark had three Navy Commendation Medals, a National Defense Medal and Overseas Ribbon before additional awards were given yesterday to her family.
Assistant Navy Secretary Dionel Aviles presented the family with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe presented the agency's Distinguished Service Medal and retired Marine Col. Robert D. Cabana, also director of flight crew operations, presented the NASA Spaceflight Medal.
Capt. Clark was also posthumously promoted from the rank of commander.
After burial services, Dr. Clark, Iain, other family members and friends walked up to the casket and placed roses on it. One woman kissed the palm of her hand and held it on the casket for several seconds.
Seventeen other astronauts, dating back to 1964, are buried in Arlington.
The unidentified, commingled remains of seven astronauts who died on Space Shuttle Challenger on Jan. 28, 1986, are also interred in Arlington.

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