In Memoriam – Hiroshi Miyamura and Frank Herda
Our annual Medal of Honor Convention is this week, and while it is a celebration of the 65 living Recipients, it is also a time to honor Recipients who have…
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C., Jan. 25, 2024 — The Congressional Medal of Honor Society regretfully announces that Roger H. C. Donlon, the first Recipient of the Medal of Honor for the Vietnam War, passed away January 25, 2024, in Leavenworth, Kansas, at the age of 89.
President Lyndon B. Johnson presented Donlon with the Medal of Honor in the East Ballroom of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Dec. 5, 1964, for his actions near Nam Dong, the Republic of Vietnam, on July 6, 1964.
On July 6, 1964, then-Captain Donlon was commanding officer at Camp Nam Dong, Vietnam, when a Viet Cong battalion launched a pre-dawn attack. During the next five hours, Donlon repeatedly exposed himself to heavy fire while defending against the enemy, moving ammunitions and weaponry to effective positions, aiding the wounded, and rallying his men. Throughout the battle, he was severely injured several times but persevered and insisted others receive medical attention before him. When the sun finally came up, the enemy retreated into the jungle. Donlon’s bravery and leadership had resulted in the defeat of the attackers and preserving the lives of the friendly Vietnamese camp defenders and fellow Americans.
Humble in every respect, Donlon didn’t feel what he had done was heroic: “In my situation and every other situation that leads to the Medal of Honor, there is absolutely no input from the recipient. It’s all done by observers. Heroism is a product of what other people see.”
Donlon was born in Saugerties, New York, on January 30, 1934. He grew up wanting to serve his country. He attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and graduated from Saugerties High School in 1952. He attended the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University for one year. Donlon then enlisted in the US Air Force from Dec. 1953 to July 1955, after which was admitted to the US Military Academy at West Point. He left the Military Academy in 1957 but enlisted in the US Army the next year. After graduating from Officer Candidate School at Fort Moore (then Fort Benning), Georgia, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He earned the “Green Beret” upon completion of the US Army Special Warfare School at Fort Liberty (then Fort Bragg), North Carolina. He retired as a Colonel in 1988.
He served on the Board of Directors/Trustees at People-to-People International and was one of the Founding Trustees of the Command and General Staff College (CGSC) Foundation.
Donlon’s military and civilian education include: Special Warfare Course; Infantry Advanced Course; CGSC; Foreign Services Institute; US Army Institute for Military Assistance, School of International Studies; Army War College; Received a Bachelor of General Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master of Science in Government from Campbell University; Held an Honorary Master of Military Arts and Sciences from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
His honors include being inducted into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame in May 1995; being recognized as the first recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award at the US Army War College in May 1997; and serving as “Honorary Colonel” of the First Special Forces Regiment from May 2004 to April 2010.
He is survived by numerous family members. Funeral arrangements are pending.
There are now 64 living Medal of Honor Recipients alive today.
About the Congressional Medal of Honor Society
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Medal of Honor and its Recipients, inspiring Americans, and supporting the Recipients as they connect with communities across the country.
Chartered by Congress in 1958, its membership consists exclusively of those individuals who have received the Medal of Honor. There are 64 living Recipients.
The Society carries out its mission through outreach, education and preservation programs, including the Medal of Honor Museum, Congressional Medal of Honor Outreach Programs, the Congressional Medal of Honor Character Development Program, and the Congressional Medal of Honor Citizen Honors Awards for Valor and Service. The Society’s programs and operations are funded by donations.
As part of Public Law 106-83, the Medal of the Honor Memorial Act, The Medal of Honor Museum, which is co-located with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s headquarters on board the U.S.S. Yorktown at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, was designated as one of three national Medal of Honor sites.
Contact: Kathleen Blomquist, [email protected]