Friday, December 5, 2014



Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Fifty years ago today, December 5, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded the first Medal of Honor of the Vietnam War to Captain Roger Donlan* at the White House here in the Nation's Capital.

Captain Donlan was also the first member of the United States Special Forces to receive the medal.

LBJ Presents Medal of Honor
To Capt. Roger Donlan
December 5, 1964
An Army of Firsts
US Army Military History Institute

Donlan had been sent to Nam Dong, 15 miles from the Laotian border in May 1964.  His camp came under attack by Viet Cong on July 6, 1964. 

During the five hour attack, the Captain sustained multiple wounds, including a severe stomach injury, but was still able to assist in getting his wounded men to safety and personally hurled hand grenades at the enemy in what was described as a "superhuman effort."

Captain Dolan's citation applauds his dynamic leadership resulting in the successful defense of the camp and was "in the highest traditions of the United States Army."

JFK+50 is pleased to honor the anniversary of this award and express our appreciation to Captain Donlan for his service to the United States of America. 

Major Roger Donlan
US Army Portrait
Army of Firsts
US Army Military History Institute

Michael Ruane of the Washington Post writes...

"Roger Donlan has the old war medal in his shirt pocket.  The pale blue ribbon looks a little faded...but the green enameled laurel still bright, and the word "VALOR" is clear."

*Roger Hugh Charles Donlan was born on January 30, 1934 in Sugerties, NY. He joined the USAF in 1953 and enlisted in the US Army in 1958.  After attending Officer Candidate School, Roger joined the Special Forces in August 1963.  

After his service in Vietnam, he earned his BS at the University of Nebraska.
Roger retired with the rank of Colonel and has written two books:  Outpost of Freedom and Beyond Nam Dong.


"Roger Donlan gets the Vietnam War's first Medal of Honor 50 years ago," by Michael E. Ruane, The Washington Post,