McDonnall, his wife and three other Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries to Iraq were attacked Monday. Karen Watson, Larry Elliott and Jean Elliott died during the attack, and McDonnall died en route to the hospital.
His wife, Carrie McDonnall, a Sulphur Springs native, was airlifted to a U.S. military hospital in Germany. Her condition had stabilized and she will be moved to the United States as soon as she can travel.
Though his life was short, David McDonnall exerted an amazing amount of influence. "He lived less than three decades and probably influenced more people than those who live eight or 10 decades," said Billy Smith, a former journalism instructor at West Texas A&M University, who taught McDonnall in several classes. "He was just one of those people whose light burned so bright that you just couldn't ignore him".
"He changed a lot since he came to the campus, from a reserved person to a friendly and funny person - and for things such as falling out of his chair one day when he fell asleep in class and setting himself on fire on a camping trip." Smith recalled the memory about McDonnall.
McDonnall's commitment to the Lord is definitely one of his most outstanding characteristics.
"I think he really wanted to be a journalist at first, but I think he gravitated to serving God and the adventure that was serving God," Smith said. "In some ways I don't think he had a choice; his calling was so profound that he just accepted it."
The e-mail updates that Smith received from McDonnall confirm that although he wasn't naive about the danger of the mission field, he was unfailingly enthusiastic about his work, which included scouting locations for a water purification project.
"He would talk about what he was doing," Smith said. "He was enthusiastic. He understood you couldn't just preach to people; you had to meet their physical needs."