1LT Peter Francis Donnell (KIA)
Date of Birth: 12/6/1942
Tour began: 11/2/67
Date of Casualty: 4/26/1968
Age at time of death: 25
Home of Record: FALLS CHURCH VA
Marital Status: Single
Religion: Roman Catholic
Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: THUA THIEN
HOSTILE, GROUND CASUALTY
GUN, SMALL ARMS FIRE
Body was recovered
1ST LT Peter Francis Donnell was a distinguished graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point in the class of 1966. He met his untimely death at the young age of just 25 and was posthumously awarded the purple heart medal.
Peter is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and is honored on Panel 52E, Row 17 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
“Thank you very much for providing us an opportunity to honor Pete…he earned it.
Peter Donnell lived in our end of a six-family apartment building in St. Jean de Braye (aka de bris) just outside of Orleans, France in the late 50’s. Our families shared a stairwell, washer and dryer, and there were few secrets; it was cozy living. You had to be 18 to drive and there was no theater, teen club, not even French stores within walking distance, but there was a little auberge/inn that was, and sold a liter of red wine for a quarter! We rode an ancient Army green school bus (or scooter if you had one) 10 K’s across the Loire River to our high school at Maison Fort (aka Cardboard Barracks), a small military facility of Engineer Corps personnel and equipment, troop billets, many military offices, a small mess hall (aka our cafeteria), and a small gym we sometimes shared with the troops, We barely fielded sports teams (tall Pete played basketball); most of the teams we played were in the same situation.
The high school was the second floors of two wings of one of those two-story office buildings, and there were about 40 in our graduating class. Only a handful of us went to Paris to take the SAT test junior year. They finally gave us a big room somewhere across town near another housing area, but transportation was always a problem. We had little as “things” go, but we were an inclusive family, probably like your unit was; we shared, we took care of each other, and today, when we have a reunion of graduates of Orleans American High School, what bonded before still bonds, and we’re teens again. And yes, we toast and remember those we’ve lost.
I think Pete had a younger sister, my younger brother’s age. Pete was what would be called a hunk today…tall, dark hair and really cute. He must have cut quite a figure in uniform at West Point! I cried when I saw his name on the Wall. My father,brother, and husband – twice-, shared your experience in Viet Nam. I took my son to sign up for the draft at the post office on his 18th birthday, and now we have three teenaged grandsons I expect to stand tall if needed. I’m so glad that someone cared enough about our classmate and friend to honor him…thank you. I imagine he grew into a fine man and good leader. I know he would have cared a lot about his men, and I pray that he did not suffer. On this Memorial Day, God bless all of you who served. God bless our country and those who serve today.”
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