Award of Bravery Winner Capt. Roger Donlon: A Heritage of Courage

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Capt. Roger Donlon: A Legacy of Bravery

Leading a Defense Under Fire

Capt. Roger Donlon, the inaugural recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Vietnam War, has sadly passed at 89 years old. News comes from the source of Reader Wall of the exceptional courage that shone through during an onslaught at Camp Nam Dong on July 6, 1964. Donlon lead his Special Forces team against a barrage from North Vietnamese troops and Viet Cong fighters. Despite suffering severe injuries, Donlon galvanized his team throughout the night of extreme warfare, holding the fort until dawn when air support arrived to successfully deter the attackers.

A Chronicle of Bravery

The defense began in the day’s early hours at an outpost near the boundary with Laos, manned by South Vietnamese soldiers, a U.S. Special Forces group led by Donlon and an Australian military advisor. An unexpected blast inflicted injuries upon Donlon, however, this didn’t stop him from continuing to defend the base. Throughout the night, they faced relentless mortar fire and fierce close-quarter combat. The enemy attempted to break spirits with surrender demands blaring from loudspeakers. Nonetheless, the defenders persevered. The assault resulted in significant casualties, with over 60 North Vietnamese, 57 South Vietnamese, and three allied members, including two Americans and the Australian advisor, sadly losing their lives.

Valor Acknowledged

Unyielding bravery and leadership made Donlon a worthy recipient of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Medal of Honor award in December 1964. This was the first time this honor was awarded during the Vietnam War, and it served as a testament to Donlon’s incomparable courage and leadership. His audacious display of bravery provided hope and a deflective shield for his brethren, perfectly encapsulating the indefatigable spirit of the US military.

A Lifetime of Brave Service

Born on January 30th, 1934, in Saugerties, New York, Donlon went on to attend the esteemed U.S. Military Academy at West Point, later choosing to enlist in the Army, and receiving his green beret from the Special Forces. He continued to serve in various roles post-Vietnam, even after a severe eye injury, including as a U.S. military advisor to the Royal Thai Army and a battalion commander in Panama. He retired from duty in 1988 after a career typified by honor, courage, and unfaltering dedication. His life trajectory wasn’t solely limited to military pursuits, Donlon also attained academic achievements, earning degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Campbell University. His life and diligent service encapsulate the exceptional sacrifices made by those who pledge their lives to defending and safeguarding our nation.

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