Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam - We Are The Mighty
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Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam

Born and raised in New York, Roger Donlon enlisted the Air Force and served for nearly two years before earning admission into West Point.


After a change of heart, Donlon left the program and re-enlisted into the Army — eventually qualifying for a position in the Special Forces community.

In 1964, Donlon was shipped off to Vietnam as a combat advisor to the South Vietnamese troops.

Related: This is the only living African-American from WW2 to earn MoH

Days before the massive firefight that would earn him the Medal of Honor, SF troops believed a conflict was brewing after a shootout took place between the South Vietnamese and their advisors at their base camp.

After investigating the deadly event, the it appeared the shootout’s origin started with one of the South Vietnamese troops Donlon was training — a VC sympathizer.

But they only realized that after the dust settled.

On Jul. 6, 1964, Donlon was on guard duty when the first enemy rounds started ripping through the American defenses.

Encountering a massive force, Donlon coordinated countermeasures with his men while the enemy announced over a P.A. system instructing the South Vietnamese troops to lay down their weapons as they only wanted to kill the Americans.

At this point, many of the VC sympathizers did as the voice had commanded them.

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
(Source: Specialoperations.com)

Moments later, Donlon spotted a zapper — or an enemy infiltrator — attempting to breach the front gate. He dashed toward them for a closer shot, but as he engaged his rifle — he realized he was out of ammo. He quickly yelled to a mortar pit nearby for a resupply. They tossed him need rounds, but they were still in a cardboard box.

Without hesitation, Donlon loaded three rounds into his magazine and successfully engaged the enemy.

Facing a force of hundreds against the U.S. and ARVN dozens, Donlon and his men all agreed not to quit, and they would fight it out until the end.

That commitment drove Donlon to continue to coordinate defenses while running from position to position, resupplying his men. After five long hours and sustaining heavy losses, the allied forces managed to render a victory and hold their base camp.

After going home on leave for Thanksgiving, the phone rang and Donlon was informed his presence was wanted at the White House to receive the Medal of Honor.

Also Read: This soldier showed up without an eye and was reprimanded…then given the MOH

Donlon was awarded the Medal of Honor on Dec. 5, 1964 — making him the first recipient of the MoH during the Vietnam War.

Check out Medal of Honor Book‘s video below to watch and hear Donlon’s heroic story for yourself.

MedalOfHonorBook, YouTube

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This is how the Swedish air force planned to survive World War III

In the event World War III broke out between the Soviet Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Sweden intended to remain neutral.


After all, they’d managed to sit out World Wars I and II.

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
An underside view of a Swedish Saab 37 Viggen fighter aircraft during Exercise BALTOPS ’85. (US Navy photo)

 

But there’s also a growing recognition that their neutrality would not be respected. A 2015 New York Times report noted that a Russian submarine sank in Swedish waters in 1916 after colliding with a Swedish vessel. In the 1980s, there were also a number of incidents, the most notorious being “Whiskey on the Rocks.” According to WarHistoryOnline.com, a Soviet Whiskey-class diesel-electric submarine ran aground off the Swedish coast in 1981, prompting a standoff between Swedish and Soviet forces that included scrambling fighters armed with anti-ship missiles.

The Soviets knew Sweden could threaten their northern flank, and the Swedes knew that they may well have to fight the Soviet Union, even though they were neutral. Should a NATO-Warsaw Pact war break out, the Swedes made contingency plans to be able to deploy their Air Force, and keep fighting in the event the Soviets attacked.

Swedish fighters serving with the Flygvapnet (Swedish air force) in that timeframe were the Saab J 35 Draken and the JA 37 Viggen. The Swedes did draw lessons from how the Israeli Defense Force hit Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in the opening hours of the Six Day War, and developed a way to make sure that the Soviets (or anyone else) would not be able to carry out a similar strike.

The new approach was called “Airbase System 90” or “Bas 90” and featured not only dispersal of the aircraft, but the widening of roads to allow them to be used as runways.

Below is a video produced by the Flygvapnet discussing the new system. While the audio is in Swedish, it has English captions.

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See why the Cold War-era B-1B Lancer is still a threat to America’s foes

As tensions with North Korea escalate in the wake of that country’s sixth nuclear test, the United States is also flexing its military muscle.


One of the primary systems being spun up is the B-1B Lancer.

This Cold War-era bomber is a very powerful system – it carries 84 500-pound bombs internally, and also could carry another 44 externally. Should Russia try to take the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Lancer is very likely to take out their ground forces with weapons like the CBU-97.

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
A B-1B Lancer drops cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to globally navigate, update mission profiles and target coordinates in-flight, and precision bomb without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)

That sort of deadly precision can also apply to Kim Jong Un’s massed artillery. The preferred weapon in this case would be more along the lines of the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition. Each B-1 can carry up to 24 of these weapons, enabling it to knock out hardened artillery bunkers. The B-1B can also use smaller GBU-38 JDAMs, based on the Mk 82 bomb, to hit other positions.

According to airforce-technology.com, the B-1B is equipped with powerful jammers and the Federation of American Scientists web site notes that the plane was designed as a low-altitude high-speed penetrator.

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
A B-1B bomber deploys a LRASM. | Public Domain photo

The B-1B has recently been demonstrating its capabilities over South Korea. North Korea has denounced those test flights, claiming that the United States is preparing for nuclear war (although most reports indicate that the B-1B no longer carries nukes).

According to an Air Force fact sheet, the B-1B Lancer entered service in 1986. It has a top speed of Mach 1.2 at sea level, and “intercontinental” range. Among the other weapons it can carry are the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. A Navy release noted that the B-1B recently tested an anti-ship version of the JASSM.

You can see the B-1B carry out one of its recent training missions over Korea in the video below. Note the heavy F-15 escort. These are valuable bombers – and only 66 are in the active Air Force inventory.

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Watch this former Navy SEAL break the world wing suit record for charity

Former Navy SEAL Andy Stumpf wants to raise $1 million for the Navy SEAL Foundation, a non-profit that supports the families of fallen SEALs, by jumping out of a plane at 36,500 feet. His jump aims to break the wing suit overland distance world record of 17.83 miles.


Please help Andy raise $1 million for the Navy SEAL Foundation by donating to his GoFundMe page.

MIGHTY TRENDING

We became zombies to be part of this Marine veteran’s new show

Mark Tufo wrote Zombie Fallout, a nine-book series that follows Marine Corps veteran and family man Mike Talbot as he tries to keep his family safe in a world overrun by zombies.


Like the character Talbot, Tufo served in the Marine Corps before returning to civilian life, starting a family, and adopting an English bulldog. The similarities end when Talbot’s neighborhood is taken over by flesh-eating and brain-hunting zombies, forcing him and his family to fight their way out.

Now, Talbot and his family might be getting their own TV series. Brad Thomas, a television producer and fan of the series, has teamed up with Tufo to bring the zombie epic to the masses. WATM got to spend a day with them and some military veteran fans on the set as the crew filmed a teaser for the show.

WATM’s Weston Scott interviewed special effects artist Michael Spatola (known for his work on Predator 2, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and numerous zombie flicks) and got a chance to experience firsthand what it’s like to sit in the chair and transform into one of the walking dead.

You can also check out the music video teaser for Zombie Fallout.

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This year saw the inaugural Los Angeles Fleet Week

This year Los Angeles hosted the first ever LA Fleet Week at the LA Waterfront in San Pedro.


The four-day long festival hosted active military ships along the waterfront and held public ship tours, equipment demos, live entertainment, and more!

We Are The Mighty’s August Dannehl, a Navy veteran himself, went down to join the festivities and participate in Los Angeles’ inaugural Fleet Week.

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The beloved ‘woobie’ is getting a controversial upgrade

It’s about the most useful item the U.S. military has ever issued and has earned a soft spot in every service member’s heart for its versatility and the cozy comfort it delivers when Mother Nature turns against you.


But while the success of the elegant square of quilted heaven rests largely on its simplicity, it has recently received a much-needed update that’ll likely deepen a trooper’s smile.

Enter the Woobie 2.0.

Marines are now being issued the so-called “Enhanced Poncho Liner,” which to most of those who’ve cuddled up to its synthetic-filled goodness will notice has a huge upgrade that many a service member has been clamoring for for years.

The new version of the woobie keeps its various tie down points and parachute chord loops, but now adds a heavy-duty reversible zipper to turn the thing into a no joke cammo cocoon.

You can read more about the specifics on the Woobie upgrade here.

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This is how Israeli pilots saw the Six-Day War

Fifty years ago, Israel was backed into a corner. Egypt had closed the Strait of Tiran – essentially denying Israel access to the Red Sea. The situation was dire, and Israel knew it had to act.


On June 5, 1967, Israel launched Operation Focus. The objective was to neutralize the Arab air forces, particularly those from Egypt. According to the Israeli Air Force web site, the operation was a smashing success.

You can now see that operation — as well as other parts of the Six-Day War — the way Israeli Defense Force pilots saw it.

During that war, the Israeli Air Force carried out strikes on airfields and other ground targets. They also were in a fair number of dogfights. The best plane the Israelis had at that time was the Dassault Mirage III, a single-seat fighter that had a top speed of 1,312 miles per hour, a range of 1,000 miles, and the ability to carry up to 8,800 pounds of ordnance along with two 30mm cannon.

 

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
An Israeli Mirage III at a museum. Giora Epstein scored the first of his 17 kills, a Su-7, in a Mirage III. (Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

The Six-Day War saw Israeli Mirage IIIs take on MiG-21 Fishbeds, MiG-19 Farmerss, Hawker Hunters, MiG-17 Frescos, Su-7 Fitters, Il-28 Beagles, and a variety of transports and helicopters.

The Israelis lost 46 aircraft and 24 pilots, but in return had killed almost 400 enemy planes, and had control of the skies within hours of the conflict starting.

You can see what it was like for Israeli pilots in the video below, taken from the Israeli gun camera films. The compilation starts with the airfield strikes that were part of Operation Focus. Not just bomb runs, but also the strafing passes on aircraft that were caught on the ground.

The gun-camera footage then shows the Israeli pilots as they score kills in dogfights. Finally, the video shows the interdiction strikes against Arab ground forces.


Feature image: Screen capture from YouTube

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These vets talk about how they respond to ‘thank you for your service’

In this latest episode of Vets Get Real, WATM talks to a group of former servicemembers about how they react when strangers approach them and say: “Thank you for your service.” Our panel also talks about how they’d prefer civilians approach veterans about their time serving.


And be sure to keep an eye out for other episodes of Vets Get Real where WATM hosts discussions with vets on topics ranging from relationships to recruiters.

Editor’s note: If you have questions that you’d like to see Vets Get Real about, please leave a comment below.

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This Marine single-handedly cleared a rooftop in Fallujah

During the second battle of Fallujah, then-Marine Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger singlehandedly cleared part of a house filled with insurgents in a heroic action that was recommended for the nation’s highest military award.


Upon entering an insurgent-infested house in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, Adlesperger pushed forward despite the death of his point man and the wounding of two others. Adlesperger, wounded in the face by grenade fragments, then single-handedly cleared a stairway and a rooftop, throwing grenades and shooting at insurgents while under blistering fire.

You can read the full account of what Adlesperger did that day here.

 

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How the Air Force makes the ‘smell of victory’

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” That line from the classic war movie Apocalypse Now ranks as one of cinema’s all-time bests. But just how, exactly, do you make napalm? How do you produce the flammable liquid that, as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore would say, smells like victory?


While the Oxford Dictionary describes napalm as a mixture of gasoline and certain types of soap, the definitive, World War II version used a combination of phosphorous, naphthalene, and palmitate. Modern napalm is a mix of gasoline, benzene, and polystyrene.

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
An Ecuadorian air force Kfir aircraft drops napalm on a target range during the joint US and Ecuadorian Exercise BLUE HORIZON. (USAF photo)

The mixture is designed to stick to a target and burn hot for a long time. Oh, and it has its own oxidizer, so you can’t smother it and water won’t put it out. As you might imagine, prepping bombs for a napalm strike is a complicated procedure. In some rare cases, the mixture would leak from bombs like the M47, which was the primary delivery system for napalm weapon during the Vietnam War.

According to a United States Army document, the M47 was a “chemical bomb.” Officially classified as a 100-pound bomb, the actual weight depended on what it was loaded with. This bomb could carry a form of napalm known as Incendiary Oil, but it also could carry white phosphorous, mustard gas, or a field-expedient mixture of rubber and gasoline.

Why Roger Donlon was the first Medal of Honor recipient in Vietnam
Sgt. Jamal G. Walker and Lance Cpl. Carl Feaster tighten the sway braces on a Mark 77 napalm bomb while loading it onto the wing pylon of a Marine Strike Fighter Squadron 321 (VMHA-321) F/A-18A Hornet aircraft. The Mark 77 is the modern version of the napalm bomb. (US Navy photo)

The current “napalm” bomb in the American arsenal is the Mk 77. This bomb replaces the gasoline with kerosene, and it was used during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Battle of Tora Bora, and during Operation Desert Storm.

In general, the use of napalm has declined as more and more precision-guided bombs have entered service.  Still, there is something to be said about dropping napalm on the bad guys.

See how some of the older napalm bombs were prepared and dropped in the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4GkljbxTGU
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Why WW2’s MP40 is one of the best submachine guns ever

Though not technically the first submachine gun deployed in combat, the German army’s Machinenpistole 40, or MP40, is certainly one of the most recognizable.


From 1940’s-era newsreel clips to just about every World War II movie ever made, the iconic MP40 has become synonymous with the Nazi troops that conquered Europe. Loosely derived from the earlier MP18 which was deployed late in World War I as a trench sweeper for the German army, the MP40 fires a 9mm pistol round out of a nearly 10-inch barrel.

German soldier with an MP40

That’s a good combo for an accurate, easy to control weapon. Add on a full-length folding stock and the MP40 stands as one of the most devastating submachine guns ever built.

But there’s more to it than that. The MP40 had a very heavy bolt that combined with the weapon’s auto-only operating system to make for a slow rate of fire that allowed the shooter to control muzzle rise and stay on target.

Watch this operator fire an MP40 and see for yourself how this early submachine gun design withstands the test of time.

 


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