A Vietnam War veteran from Leavenworth will be honored next month by the Wreaths Across America organization.
WAA will dedicate a Vietnam War "Welcome Home" Room that is named in honor of Roger Donlon.
The Colonel Roger Donlon Vietnam War "Welcome Home" Room is located at Wreaths Across America’s newly renovated History & Hospitably House, which is located next door to the nonprofit organization’s national headquarters in Columbia Falls, Maine, according to a news release from WAA.
Donlon became the first American soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor in Vietnam for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty on July 6, 1964.
As ambassadors for Wreaths Across America, and active participants in the program in their hometown of Leavenworth, Donlon and his wife, Norma, have become involved in the mission of the organization during the last several years.
They first traveled to Maine in 2017 to help with the opening of the similarly named Vietnam "Welcome Home" Exhibit at the National Wreaths Across America Museum. That same year, the couple also served as honorary co-grand marshals for the annual escort to Arlington National Cemetery. Most recently in 2018, they participated in the dedication of the Medal of Honor Remembrance Park, which is an eight-acre park located on the tip land where balsam is harvested to make veterans’ wreaths each year for placement on National Wreaths Across America Day.
"Norma and I are honored and proud to participate in the dedication of this special room," Donlon said in a news release. "As a Vietnam era Gold Star Wife, Norma is grateful to WAA for providing a place where families can gather when visiting to participate in the Remembrance Tree Program. As Blue Star parents of three sons who have served our country, we encourage others to visit WAA and enjoy the warm hospitality of the Worcester family and all those involved with the mission to Remember … Honor … Teach."
The Vietnam War "Welcome Home" Room is the latest of the WAA History & Hospitality House room projects to be completed by WAA since starting this endeavor nearly three years ago, and is the largest room in the house, chosen because of the space it offers for local Vietnam veterans to gather and share stories with each other and the community.
"Not only is Roger an American hero, but he and Norma are dear friends who have become part of the Wreaths Across America family," Karen Worcester, executive director of WAA, said in a news release. "To have them be here together for this event, and give others the opportunity to learn from them as we have had the honor to do, is truly humbling."
People are encouraged to watch the dedication that will be livestreamed on the Official Wreaths Across America Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WAAHQ on Oct. 3.
Wreaths Across America is the nonprofit organization best known for placing veterans wreaths on the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. However, the organization, in total, places more than 2.2 million sponsored wreaths at over 2,200 participating locations nationwide and offers other programs throughout the year.