Robert Alfred Dondero
Sergeant Major, United States Army
of Paula Dondero: November
"Robert Allen Dondero was the first born son of Alfred and Hazel Dondero.
"He was the oldest of seven children, five boys and two girls, who all looked up to him. He was a fine example for them. A wonderful son, brother, father and uncle . He was, in fact, the favorite Uncle...We all miss him still.
"He joined the Army as a teenager and had spent over 20 years of his too short life in the service, he never married in his younger years. His new wife, my aunt Helen, lost her will to go on and left us less than a year after he did. It is said that she died of a broken heart.
"The last time I saw him was February 14, 1969. He and my Aunt Helen arrived at our home armed with gifts and jelly filled doughnuts before leaving for Vietnam. His visits were always memorable as he spoiled us a great deal.
"At the time of his death he was visiting one of his subordinate MACV Teams in Quang Duc Province. While they were visiting, the team started receiving incoming rockets.The team made a dash for the helicopter to get airborne and out of there. They all made it except for my uncle. I was told that a rocket landed in front of him as he was running. The upward blast and shrapnel caught him at about his waist line.
"I have this picture of him which was taken just before he was killed. On the left is Sergeant Major Dondero, known to us as Uncle Spike. Sergeant Major Sam Hadley is in the center, his good friend. Uncle Spike was presenting a painting of the first moon landing to Hadley and their NCO club manager. The painting was done by a Vietnamese artist.
"Sergeant Major Hadley said of him:
"'Vietnam was a hot, humid place, and it was
a job to keep the jungle uniform looking neat, but your uncle changed uniforms
twice a day. He was our senior NCO and always set an example for the rest
of us. God, how I admired that man. I miss him and will never forget
him. In my 30 years in the Army, I never met a more perfect gentleman and
Photos Courtesy of Holly, August 2005