MOH recipient Roger Donlon passes away

Retired Army Col. Roger Donlon, the first Medal of Honor recipient of the Vietnam War, passed away Jan. 25. He was 89.

On July 6, 1964, then-Capt. Donlon was the 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.

He shared his story with The American Legion in a 2017 interview. “The Legion has been a touchstone for myself, my brother, my whole family,” he said.

Donlon, a longtime member of American Legion Post 172 in New York, was also the first veteran of the Vietnam War to receive The American Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1966.

"The American Legion has chosen to make its acknowledgement by honoring a man who, to us, symbolizes all of the brave men our country has sent to Vietnam," said National Commander L. Eldon James.

Upon receiving the medal, Donlon said, "We fought to keep what we have, and sometimes I think it is equally important to share what we have."