Donald Joseph Rion
Petty Officer Third Class
United States Navy
Northbrook, Illinois
June 19, 1942 to December 10, 1966
DONALD J RION is on the Wall at Panel 13E, Line 29

Combat Action Ribbon
Donald J Rion
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04 Jan 2001

A Personal Remembrance to Don
You Will Always Be "Donnie" To Me...

This past Christmas Season 2000 would have been your 58th. It has been a lot of years since you were with us. The pain slowly goes away, but the "missing" never goes away. There isn't a week that goes by without thinking of something happy that we did together. Rather than mourn your death, I write this to celebrate your life, albeit very short.

I can't write fancy poetry, or draw something especially for you, but the thoughts and feelings in my heart will always be there for you. It was a wonderful time growing up with you, doing so many things together.

We loved, shared, prayed, fought, forgave, and many more things. Remember the fort we built in back of Breitzman's house, the 3 day monopoly games in Wisconsin, the 5 deck canasta games, Queen and Judy, the "wars" with Little Orphan Annie, the slumber parties where you enjoyed parading through my room in front of my girlfriends in your jockey shorts, all the papers I typed for you in grade and high school, your boyfriends that weren't good enough for me, the time you almost gave Mom a heart attack when you dressed up like a mummy and waited behind the door, the great trips to Wisconsin and Rochester, and so many, many other marvelous memories.

I wish now I had taken more advantage of the time. I often wonder what it would be like to have you here now. I find myself asking "I wonder what Donnie would have done?" You have the advantage because Mom and Dad are with you, and many of our aunts and uncles. Actually, now that Aunt Louise is upstairs, you guys could get a great pinochle game going.

Life is very unpredictable, no doubt about it. We must take advantage of the short time we have here to make a difference. You made a big difference in a lot of people's lives, helping them, caring for them, and the ultimate sacrifice of giving your life so others could live. You so believed in what you were doing in Viet Nam and knew you were needed there. Knowing that, all these years made things a bit easier, learning to live without your smile, your laugh, your charismatic personality.

I thank the Lord that we had such a wonderful person in you for the time you were here. I offer a toast to you, a toast to the brother whom I shall always love. In the service they called you "Doc Rion", but you will always be "Donnie" to me.

Judy Rion Murphy


Thank You To All Who Serve and Have Served Our Country and To A Very Special Serviceman, Donald Joseph Rion

    We thank all those that serve and have served our country to protect our freedom and especially to a very special serviceman, DONALD JOSEPH RION, who was awarded the Silver Star Medal for gallantry in combat on May 6, 2000. Don, a 24-year-old corpsman, in the Navy, suffered mortal wounds Dec. 10, 1966, when two bombs were accidentally dropped by friendly fire, too close to the corpsmen's position on the edge of the Cam Lo river in Quang Tri, South Vietnam.

    Mr. Bob Koehler, a friend of Don's during the war, said almost 18 corpsmen were killed immediately and another 25 were injured by the blast. Don, after losing both legs, asked not to be evacuated by a medical helicopter and instead assisted the injured by telling other soldiers how to treat the wounded and in what order they should be evacuated. As a corpsmen, he had been trained in first-aid and other basic medical skills.

    Bob said that Don and a few other corpsmen would use their days off to travel to nearby villages and administer medical aid to the Vietnamese. "It was such a shame", Koehler said, "Doc Rion was a great character, and his time with the line company was almost up. Then he would have been transferred to a hospital or less dangerous place."

    "I really thought he was a great man" Koehler said. "A lot of people would have been angry in that situation, but he never thought of himself the whole time." Koehler said his captain mentioned recommending Don for the Silver Star the day Don died, and he's uncertain why the award didn't arrive for nearly 34 years. Officials at the Chicago office of the Dept. of Veterans' Affairs said that two witnesses are needed for the commendation, and the process of finding the witnesses and gathering their statements can be arduous.

    I am very grateful to Bob, his wife Linda and daughter Tracey for their efforts in tracking me down not only to tell us about the medal but send some photos and a recording with Don done in Viet Nam in November, 1966.

    Yes, life is very unpredictable, no doubt about it. We must take advantage of the short time we have here to make a difference. Don made a big difference in a lot of people's lives, helping them, caring for them, and the ultimate sacrifice of giving his life so others could live. He so believed in what he was doing in Viet Nam and knew he was needed there. Knowing that, all of these years made things a bit easier, learning to live without his smile, his laugh, his charismatic personality. I thank the Lord that we had such a wonderful person in him for the time he was here. I offer a toast to Don, a toast to one whom I shall always love, and that person is my brother. In the service, they called him "Doc Rion", but he will always be "Donnie" to me.

    Because of these brave men and women, we, the lucky ones, are allowed to research what interests us, allowed to do what interests us, IN FREEDOM. It is because of their sacrifices that we can do and say what our constitution allows.

    Especially when we celebrate the holiday season, let us all give thanks and prayers for all of our service people, who have made it possible for us to celebrate while they stand guard for our freedom. Let us make an effort to remember them all year through. Thank you to all those who serve now and who have served, many of them giving the ultimate sacrifice. We deeply appreciate all of you. God bless and watch over you. To all of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, we celebrate your lives, today and always.

Judy Rion Murphy








11 Nov 2004

Land of the Free
BECAUSE of the Brave

My Dearest Brother, Don
oday is Veterans' Day - a day we set aside to thank all of those that have served our country in the military service. Our land is free, but only through the efforts of our brave young men and women in service. You are always in my mind, but today more than most. It has been 38 years since you left us, but sometimes it only seems like yesterday. Usually Uncle Bob LeClair made sure there were flags on the family veteran's graves, but he is now also with you. It is 2300 miles away, so can only send you my love in this note. Through this web site, your youngest daughter Dawn and I made contact. We have emailed every day. It helps tremendously knowing that she is part of you. Unfortunately yesterday she had to discontinue her Internet service so not sure what will happen there. Somehow, however, we will stay in contact. I suspect the kids had a hard time growing up without you in their life. At least I had the opportunity of knowing you for many years, although certainly not near long enough as you left us when you were so very young. Our first cousin, Bobby Rion, is also now with you. Several years ago he legally changed his name to Santa Claus. In the Chicago area, he then started to receive all the Santa Claus mail!! That sounds like Bobby. He had a heart of gold - always.

Finally found my favorite picture of you and am having it put on your page. You will always be the most handsome man I have ever known. Please know that I celebrate your life daily and thank the good Lord that there was someone as special as you in my life.

God Bless Us All
Judy Rion Murphy


The Silver Star Medal was awarded posthumously on May 6, 2000.

Hospitalman 3rd Class Donald Joseph Rion, US Navy Hospital Corpsman, while serving as an assistant senior corpsman with Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines, US Marine Corps, lost his life on 10 December 1966 while rendering aid to the many who were killed or wounded due to an error by US aircraft when their positions were bombed in Quang Tri Province in what later became known as "Friendly fire". For his actions on this day when he was severely wounded and refused to be evacuated, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal.


14 Jan 2002

We met your wonderful family this summer at our reunion. You can be very proud, my friend. We presented them with your Silver Star, and a tape from Bob ... they heard your voice again. They are a full part of our family, and we a part of yours.

Semper Fi, my friend, Semper Fi
Alumni of Mike Company 3/3 Marines

25 May 2003

"...We regret to inform you...."

My mother has held such a telegram in her hand. Your sister has as well. Because of your sacrifice and the sacrifices of so many others I will most likely never have to hold a telegram like that. My heart aches for your loved ones, my heart aches for the losses my mother, your sister and countless other women have had to endure. The best way I can think to honor you and those who serve is to live an honest, creative, productive, genuine and loving life. I know your loss is still felt but it is not in vain. Thank you sir!

"Once there was a way to get back homeward,
Once there was a way to get back home.
Sleep, pretty darling, do not cry.
And I will sing a lullabye..."

From a friend of his sister, Judy Rion Murphy,
T. Jackson

28 May 2004

I am the closest relative out of all the people who wrote about Donald Rion. I am his youngest daughter, Dawn Marie Rion. Daddy was killed 19 days before my first birthday, so you can say I never really knew him. But yet I look like him and have some of his mannerisms. I have spent my whole life missing a man I was unable to get to know and yet not a day goes by that I don't think of him or talk to him. I know he loved me and that he was a wonderful man. It seems eveyone liked him. If anyone is on this site and reads this I would love for you to e-mail me at and maybe you could tell me what you remember about him. That would be great.

Daddy, my message to you is that I miss you as always but I know you are somewhere watching over me. You have two grandchildren (I can't say kids cause Mom said you hated it when she did that). Ronnie is almost 11 and Summer is almost 8. You would have loved them. Summer got your blue eyes. They know all about you and are very proud of you. I love you always, till we meet again....

All my love

3 Jul 2004

Dear Daddy,

Well, tomorrow is 4th of July. A time for us to celebrate our freedom. The very same freedom that you gave your life for. So I say "Thank you" for being the brave couragous person that you were.

Also June 19th was your birthday. I lit a candle and the kids and i celebrated for you.

Then of course there was Fathers' Day. We lit another candle and celebrated for you then too.

So many things come and go year after year. You should have been able to be here for all of them. But I can feel you here in spirit.

You will be very happy to know that because of this website, I have been reunited with your sister, my Aunt Judy. Daddy, I have waited all my life to hear stories of you growing up. Your likes and dislikes. Any information I can get about your short life is like a dream come true. I have waited so many years to learn more about the man who I have been grieving over all my life and now it's all coming true. I can't help but think you may have something to do with all this! Something guided me to this site. I didn't even know it existed till a couple of months ago. I found it totally by accident. So, Daddy, thanks for the help in guiding me toward Aunt Judy. And I thank you for that. There will forever be an empty hole inside my heart and soul from missing you so much, but things are a little better now that I know I have another connection to you (i.e. Judy). We e-mail every day back and forth. She's a very sweet funny lady.

As for me. Well I'm still fighting my disorders. If you can send me some help with those, I'd really appreciate it! LOL. Well, Daddy, we'll be celebrating for you again tomorrow. I'm sure we'll feel your presence as we enjoy the day.

I love and miss you so much, Daddy, and Grama and Grampa too. Don't stop watching over me. I need all the help in this crazy world that I can get!

All my love XXXXXXX00000000
Blessed be
your daughter
Dawn Marie Rion

P.S. Judy says your "fav" food was steak. Well, that is also my "fav" food. I know it may sound silly to someone who is reading this, but believe me just knowing this makes me happy inside. There are probably so much more things we have in common. I can't wait to find out more!

06 Jun 2007

Dearest Daddy,

Your little granddaughter Summer Marie celebrated her 11th Birthday on the 4th of June 2007. As much as I wish you could have been here to celebrate with us, I know you were watching over us from where you are. She has your blue eyes and beautiful blond hair. I know you are as proud of her as we are.

I miss you so much. Your Birthday is coming up in a few weeks. We all will be thinking of you and celebrating for you. Our hearts still grieve for you, and I know that will last our whole lives. That's how much you mean to our family.

My biggest wish is that I can feel your arms around me. I know that will never happen but I also know you will be with me always, watching over me and protecting me.

I hope I make you proud!
All my love
Your Baby Girl,
Dawn Marie

Dawn Marie Rion-Neeley

A Christmas Poem for Servicemen Everywhere

13 Oct 2005

Well Doc, I never knew you, but Doc Paul spoke of you often.
You and he were by far and away the bravest of the brave.
I would sure like to know where God keeps that special brand of clay used to mold people like you and Paul.

He's with you now, and I kind of got the impression he couldn't wait to join you.

Semper Fi from the bottom of my heart and tell Paul I said hello.

Just another grunt Marine,
Patrick T. Hughes


A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 10 December 1966 the 2nd and 3rd Platoons, Mike 3/3 Marines, were on the move. As they approached the Song Cam Lo River the 3rd Platoon formed a semi-circular perimeter through which the second platoon and the company command group passed. A capable swimmer strung a rope from bank to bank and the 2nd Platoon began to ford the swift-flowing, chest deep river. As the Marines were crossing, two F-4 Phantoms passed over heading down-river.

A break was called with 2nd Platoon and most of the command group on the far side and 3rd Platoon and the remaining members of the command group on the near side. The two Phantoms returned from down-stream and one dropped two bombs into the center of the perimeter formed by the 3rd Platoon. Thirteen men were killed outright and fourteen others badly injured. Of the five Corpsmen on the near side only one was uninjured - and the rope had been severed by the blasts, preventing the Corpsmen on the far side from recrossing the river. Although medevac helicopters were called in without delay, several of the wounded died while aboard the helicopters.

The 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines' Command Chronology contains the following entry:

"At 1024H, M/3/3 at XD 950922 rec'd (2) 250-lb bombs which apparently missed target area and went long over ridge landing on M/3/3 resulting in 17 USMC KIA and 11 USMC WIA.ï¿ 1/2 ï¿ 1/2 At 1438H, Med Evac of M/3/3 casualties completed."
The seventeen Marines and sailors who died in the incident were
  • C Btry, 1st Bn, 12th Marines
    • Pfc John D. Gayman, East Point, GA

  • H&S Co, 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines
    • HM3 John N. Grachtrup, Grand Rapids, MI
    • HM3 Donald J. Rion, Northbrook, IL (Silver Star)
    • Cpl Clifford R. Singleton, New York, NY
    • LCpl William H. Bator, Akron, OH
    • Pfc John H. Knudsen, Chicago, IL
    • Pfc Jack W. Logan, Willoughby, OH

  • M Co, 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines
    • 1stLt John S. Sayer, Watertown, NY
    • GySgt Joseph Clemons, Orlando, FL
    • SSgt Doyle A. McShan, Houston, TX
    • Sgt Owen F. Neumyer, Harrisburg, PA
    • LCpl Jerry K. Patrick, Denver, CO
    • Pfc Michael L. Crouson, Pocatello, ID
    • Pfc Charles J. Esbensen, Philadelphia, PA
    • Pfc Martin Ruiz, San Antonio, TX
    • Pfc Robert D. Sage, Rochester, NY
    • Pfc Phillip T. Wiley, Pueblo, CO
"Doc" Paul Blakely, mentioned above by Mr. Hughes, was one of the Navy Corpsmen who was severely injured by the bombs. Although he survived his injuries he never fully recovered from them. Doc Blakely died several years ago.

Visit John Dennison's
Medics on the Wall
memorial which honors the
Army Medics and Navy Corpsmen who died in Vietnam.

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