Roger HC Donlon, an Military Inexperienced Beret who in 1964 was the primary recipient of the Vietnam Warfare Medal of Honor, for main the protection of a jungle outpost in a fierce night time assault regardless of being wounded by shrapnel from a mortar and a grenade, he died on January. 25 in Leavenworth, Kan. He was 89.
The trigger was Parkinson's illness, his household mentioned in a press release. The assertion mentioned the illness was the results of publicity to Agent Orange, the poisonous chemical sprayed by US plane as a defoliant in Vietnam.
Mr. Donlon was a profession soldier who spent 33 years within the Military, rising to colonel. Earlier than that he attended the US Navy Academy at West Level, NY, though he dropped out after two years, and have become a Inexperienced Beret in 1963 after coaching at Fort Bragg, NC, now Fort Liberty.
The battle wherein he received the Medal of Honor loosely impressed the climactic scene in John Wayne's 1968 movie “The Inexperienced Berets.”
Mr. Donlon was a 30-year-old Particular Forces captain when he arrived in South Vietnam to command an outpost in Nam Dong, north of Da Nang, not removed from the Laotian border. The mountainous area within the Central Highlands was populated by Montagnard villagers, whom Military advisers—and, earlier than them, CIA officers—tried to kind right into a bulwark towards the Vietcong, the 'communist insurgency aligned with North Vietnam.
Surrounded by barbed wire, Camp Nam Dong was defended by a dozen US Particular Forces and about 300 Vietnamese. Within the hours of July 6, 1964, a power of 800 to 900 common Vietcong and North Vietnamese launched a shock assault, attempting to overrun the camp.
Years later, Mr. Donlon mentioned that among the many fighters the Inexperienced Berets have been coaching have been many Vietcong sympathizers. When the capturing started, he informed the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the attackers made an announcement over a public handle system in English and Vietnamese, telling supporters: “Put down your weapons . We simply need the People.” He estimated that there have been solely 75 dependable fighters to defend the camp.
Operating by way of “a hail of small arms and hand grenade explosions,” in accordance with the Medal of Honor quotation, Captain Donlon “annihilated” enemy fighters trying to breach the principle gate.
Throughout 5 hours of fight, he was always on the transfer: laying down cowl fireplace whereas his troopers retreated, climbing with a 60-millimeter mortar to a brand new location and dragging a wounded soldier out of a rifle pit. On separate events, he was wounded within the abdomen, left shoulder, leg and face.
Captain Donlon radioed for reinforcements. However when the helicopters arrived from Da Nang Air Base, they have been unable to land on account of intense fireplace and returned to the bottom.
“With out hesitation,” says Captain Donlon's quotation, “he left this protected place, and moved from place to place across the besieged perimeter whereas throwing hand grenades on the enemy and provoking his males to a superhuman effort.”
By daybreak, when the enemy retreated, two Inexperienced Berets, an Australian soldier and 55 South Vietnamese defenders have been useless, whereas the Vietcong had misplaced 64 males, in accordance with an official army historical past.
Captain Donlon was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson on the White Home on December 5, 1964.
That 12 months, with 23,000 American troops in Vietnam, the administration was nonetheless tight-lipped in regards to the American function within the conflict. “That is the primary Medal of Honor awarded to a person who distinguished himself whereas serving with a pleasant power engaged in an armed battle wherein the US isn’t a belligerent occasion,” learn a press release from the White Home.
Mr. Donlon's army profession started when he enlisted within the Air Drive in 1953. He was admitted to West Level in 1955, however dropped out after two years, taking a job with IBM. After 10 months, he determined a company job wasn't for him, and in 1958 he joined the Military, graduating from Officer Candidate College as a second lieutenant at Fort Benning, Ga., now Fort Moore .
After Vietnam, he earned a Bachelor of Basic Research diploma from the College of Nebraska at Omaha and a Grasp of Science in authorities from Campbell College, in accordance with the army publication Stars and Stripes. He grew to become an teacher on the Command and Employees School at Fort Leavenworth in Leavenworth, Kan., the place he continued to reside along with his household after retiring in 1988.
He wrote two books: “Outpost of Freedom” (1965), in regards to the battle for Nam Dong, and “Past Nam Dong” (1998), an autobiography that features an account of returning to Nam Dong lengthy after the conflict to advertise reconciliation
In retirement, he raised cash for a scholarship fund for Vietnamese American and Vietnamese college students, and to construct a kids's library and studying middle within the village of Nam Dong. He led a delegation to Vietnam in 1993 for the non-profit group Folks to Folks Worldwide, the place he served on the board.
Roger Hugh Charles Donlon was born on January 30, 1934, in Saugerties, NY. He was the eighth of 10 kids of Paul A. Donlon, who ran a lumber firm, and Marion (Howard) Donlon. His father died when he was 13 years outdated.
When Mr. Donlon returned to Saugerties in 2016 after his township was named in his honor, a former classmate, Jack Bartells, informed an area newspaper that he “at all times needed to be a soldier.”
“He got here from a army household,” Bartells mentioned, “and he and 4 brothers served within the army.”
In 1968, he married Norma Shinno Irving, whose first husband was killed in Vietnam, after sitting subsequent to her on a flight. She survives him, as do two of her brothers, Paul A. Donlon Jr. and Jack Donlon; one daughter, Linda Danniger; three sons, Damian, Jason and Derek; six grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
On a return journey in 1995 to Nam Dong, Mr. Donlon visited the graves above of South Vietnamese troopers beneath his command who died in battle. Subsequent to him was Nguyen Can Thu, a former Vietcong political officer who had helped plan the assault. It was Mr. Thu, Mr. Donlon later mentioned, who informed him that 100 of the 300 Vietnamese he was coaching on the camp have been Vietcong infiltrators.
Collectively, the 2 males cleared the comb and straightened among the unmarked gravestones. They have been helped by Vietcong veterans of the battle.
“I used to be there, kneeling down to chop the grass on the graves of my males, and round me my former enemies have been serving to me do it,” Mr. Donlon informed The Kansas Metropolis Star in 1999. “This has actually solidified my emotions of reconciliation.”