(GoRealNewsNow.com) – The nation has, sadly, just lost a remarkable American hero – the first US soldier to be decorated with a medal of honor for the Vietnam War has passed away.
Captain Roger Donlon, a distinguished US Army vet and the first Vietnam War serviceman to receive the nation’s highest military distinction, passed away on Thursday in northeast Kansas at the age of 89, The Washington Post reports, as cited by The Daily Caller.
Donlon, who succumbed to Parkinson’s disease in Leavenworth, had his condition linked to his exposure to Agent Orange, a toxic military herbicide.
This connection was disclosed in the report by Norma Shinno Donlon, his second wife.
In a groundbreaking recognition, Captain Donlon became the initial recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Vietnam War era.
He earned this honor for his valiant defense of Camp Nam Dong, a South Vietnamese army outpost situated on the border with Laos.
This outpost came under a fierce attack by the communist Viet Cong forces in 1964.
During the early hours of July 6, 1964, the outpost faced a relentless onslaught from an approximately 800-strong Viet Cong guerrilla force.
They bombarded Nam Dong with mortars, grenades, and machine gunfire.
At that critical juncture, Captain Donlon was the commanding officer of a 12-member US Special Forces Team A-726.
Together with about 300 South Vietnamese troops and an Australian military adviser, they mounted a formidable defense of the base.
Throughout the intense battle, Captain Donlon exhibited extraordinary bravery and resourcefulness.
He provided emergency medical aid to his injured comrades, using strips torn from his shirt and one of his socks as makeshift bandages and tourniquets. Concurrently, he managed to eliminate two enemy combatants.
The ferocity of the battle resulted in significant casualties: at least 57 South Vietnamese soldiers, two American soldiers, the Australian military adviser, and over 60 Viet Cong guerrillas lost their lives.
Remarkably, Captain Donlon, despite being wounded three times and narrowly avoiding a direct mortar hit, survived.
During a second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1972, he suffered a severe injury to his retina. Upon returning to the United States, a nation then engulfed in antiwar protests, he took on roles as a trainer and adviser before retiring as a colonel in 1988.
Captain Donlon documented his experiences in two books. He recounted the Battle of Nam Dong in his 1965 publication, “Outpost of Freedom,” and later reflected on his broader experiences in his 1998 memoir, “Beyond Nam Dong.”
With his passing, the number of living Medal of Honor recipients now stands at 63.