Courtesy of Paula Dondero: November 2005
“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 soldier'”
Full Name: ROBERT ALFRED DONDERO
Date of Birth: 6/15/1927
Date of Casualty: 11/6/1969
Home of Record: BROCKTON, MASSACHUSETTS
Branch of Service: ARMY
Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: QUANG DUC
DONDERO, HELEN D WID OF DONDERO, ROBERT A
- DATE OF BIRTH: 04/01/1929
- DATE OF DEATH: 07/19/1970
- BURIED AT: SECTION 51 SITE 1961
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
- WIFE OF RA DONDERO, CSM US ARMY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard