Cover photo for Commander David Wayne Penwell U.S. Navy Retired's Obituary
Commander David Wayne Penwell U.S. Navy Retired Profile Photo
1934 Commander David 2021

Commander David Wayne Penwell U.S. Navy Retired

July 20, 1934 — February 7, 2021

Commander David Wayne Penwell, 86, a resident of Athens, TN, now a resident of Gulf Shores, AL, passed away Sunday, February 7, 2021 at his home in Gulf Shores.  He was a member of Watts Bar Church of God prior to moving to AL. He had a bachelors of Science degree from Northwest Missouri University.

Commander Penwell was a retired Naval Flight Officer that gave 26 years of his life to serve his Country. He did 2 tours in Vietnam, Guam 7th Fleet, and China/ Taiwan Straits. He was on the aircraft carrier Ranger. He was a combat information Officer, Patrol Plane Navigator, and he was a Hurricane Hunter. He loved being in the air. He had merit awards for flying in Two Category 5 Hurricanes, Betsy and Flora. Commander Penwell had a letter of Commendation for the low level photo mission of the Cuban Missile Crises, (Found and photographed the Russian Missiles). He was part of the team that tracked the Apollo Space Missions.

He assisted in the Augmentation of the U.S.S Nimitz. He has medals for the following; National Defense Service, Armed Forces Expeditionary, National Reserve, Navy Expeditionary, Vietnam Service, Armed Forces Reserve, and Countless letters of Commendation.

Commander Penwell was a kind and caring man that loved God, his family, and loved to fish! He was born on July 20, 1934 to the late Hazel Bryant Penwell and Howard Penwell.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Virginia (Susie) Penwell; his parents; and his son, David Penwell Jr.

He is survived by  his children, Cynthia Penwell (Kit King) of Austin, TX, Randy Penwell (Linda) of Parkersburg, IA, Judy Buckner (Morgan) of Athens, TN/Gulf Shores, AL; grandchildren, Alex Penwell, Carter King Penwell, and Kendall Montgomery, all of Austin, TX, Morgan Truax, Jamie Holkan, and Justin Penwell, all of Parkersburg, IA, Samantha Spooner of Clinton, IA, Briana Penwell of San Antonio, TX, Dalton McIntosh of Omeha, NE, Payton Tanner Graham, Christopher Tommy Smith, both of Athens, TN; 21 great-grandchildren; 2 great-great grandchildren; sisters, Sandra Penwell Taylor (Lynn), and Donna Penwell Chapman (Warren); he also had many nieces and nephews.

A celebration of his life will be conducted at 2:00 pm on Friday, February 19, 2021 in the chapel of Ralph Buckner Funeral Home with Pastor Kelly Goins and Pastor Roger Roark officiating.  Interment will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens with Morgan Buckner, Dylan Golden, and Christopher Tommy Smith serving as pallbearers.  A white dove release ceremony and the playing of bagpipes will conclude the service. 

The family will receive friend’s from 12:00 to 2:00 pm at the funeral home prior to the service.

You may watch the service via live stream on Ralph Buckner Funeral Home’s Facebook page.

We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the Penwell family guestbook at




To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Commander David Wayne Penwell U.S. Navy Retired, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, February 19, 2021

12:00 - 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Celebration of Life

Friday, February 19, 2021

Starts at 2:00 pm (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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