1/27/2024  SFBusinessNetwork.com



United States Army Special Forces (Retired)
January 30, 1934 – January 25, 2024

Roger Hugh Charles Donlon, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and Medal of Honor Recipient lost his 12-year battle with Agent Orange Parkinson’s Disease and died on January 25, 2024.

Roger was the 8th of 10 children born to Paul A. and Marion (Howard) Donlon of Saugerties, New York. Both his parents preceded him in death. In addition to his parents, his sisters, Marion, Mary Bernadette, Adrienne, and Barbara (Huff) along with brothers Joseph, Michael and Gerard also preceded him in death. Two other brothers, Paul A, Jr. of Saugerties, NY and Jack in Panama City, FL survive.

Graduating from Saugerties High School in 1952 Roger enlisted in the US Air Force in 1953. He attended the US Military Academy at West Point for 2 years before leaving to achieve his dream of serving as an Infantry Officer through Officer Candidate School. He earned his BA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, MS from Campbell University in North Carolina, and had an Honorary Master of Military Arts and Sciences from the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS. Roger served for a total of 33 years in his specialties as an Infantry, Special Forces, and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1988, in Leavenworth, KS.

On July 6, 1964, then Captain Donlon and his Special Forces Team A-726, along with 60 Chinese Nungs, defended Camp Nam Dong, Vietnam when they were attacked by a force of 900 enemy troops. It was the first battle of the Vietnam War where the Regular North Vietnamese Army joined forces with the Viet Cong from the south to try to overrun an American Outpost. For his actions at Nam Dong, Roger became the first American Soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.

In November of 1965 while on a flight to Fort Benning, Georgia, Roger sat next to a young widow whose husband had been KIA in Vietnam. Neither was aware that this was the beginning of a love affair that would last to infinity and beyond. Three years later Roger married Norma Shinno Irving on November 9, 1968.

His, surviving family are, Linda Danninger (Paul) (daughter with his first wife who preceded him in death) and his wife of 55 years, Norma, 3 sons, Damian, Jason (Lori), Derek. His youngest son, Justin also preceded him in death. In addition, there are 6 grandchildren, Alicia Robbins, Justine (and Adam Donlon-Jeschke) Griffin Danninger, Elise, Jordan, and Aurelia Donlon, and one very special Great Granddaughter, Willow Faye Donlon-Campbell, 17 nieces and nephews, 21 grand nieces and nephews and 5 great grand nieces and nephews.

Roger achieved many awards, honors, and accolades during his lifetime, but he considered his two reconciliation projects in Vietnam as his contribution to, “Heal the wounds of war.” Both he, and his wife, Norma, believed that “Those who have invested the most of themselves in war should be the first to reach out in peace.”

Roger Donlon will be remembered as a devoted family man, faithful to God and his church, a patriot to the core, and always a friend and mentor to those with whom he came in contact.
Visitation will be on Monday, January 29, 2024, at Leintz Funeral Home 4701 10th Avenue, Leavenworth, KS.  Rosary led by Matt Belford will begin at 1700 hours with visitation to follow from 1800 to 2000 hours. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 306 North Broadway, Leavenworth, KS on Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at 1030 hours.

A Celebration of Life will be held on April 10, 2024, beginning at 1300 hours at the Frontier Conference Center, 350 Biddle Avenue, Fort Leavenworth, KS.