Friday, March 16, 2012

Donald Woodward McNamara, 1946 - 1967

Stan Arendts sent along an email about a "Virtual Wall" that memorializes those Americans who gave their lives in Viet Nam.  The website,, lists names and hometowns, and photos if any are available.

The lone casualty listed from Northwood or Kensett is Donald Woodward McNamara, and Stan asked if anyone knew this guy.  He was a member of the class of '65 but apparently he and his family were not district residents for very long, so little information has turned up as to his local impact, other than his being a nice, nice, handsome guy.

Don's name and photo are not listed in the '62 or subsequent yearbooks, and there is no photo of him on the Virtual Wall website.  There is, however, a profile that reveals he died outright of hostile enemy action in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, and a report from the Virtual Wall:

The 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines' Command Chronolgy for July 1967 reports that at 2:15 PM, 21 Jul the 2nd Plt, Mike 3/3, while escorting a road sweep team on Highway 9 southwest of Ca Lu, encountered two enemy soldiers. The Marines killed one of the NVA soldiers, retrieving the dead soldier's body. Shortly afterwards, the platoon found itself under heavy attack by what seemed to be most of an NVA battalion. The remainder of Mike 3/3 came to help, while Kilo 3/3 and a light tank section mounted out from Ca Lu to assist. By 8:15 PM Mike Company reported they had broken contact and were withdrawing. While the number of enemy dead is not known, the Marines lost eleven men killed in action - and another died from wounds three weeks later.

The Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund has a page dedicated to him online.  One of his fellow Marines reports on his page that he is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Albert Lea, and the VVMF has a link that will allow you to make donations to their cause in his honor.

The page also includes links to Remembrances left at the Wall in his honor.  Lyle Frazer tells from a Marine's point of view about Donald and the incident leading to his death.

Ray Calhoun says Don and I would lay on our backs, looking at the stars, and singing Up Up and Away to the top of our lungs. They all thought we were crazy.

When he turned 18 he chose to enlist rather than finish school, and being a Northwood resident at that time he is listed that way in all the war records under his name, though sadly few that we've contacted can recall who he was.  Yet review the remarks of Frazer and Calhoun and you get a sense, a feeling, that this fellow was indeed one of our nation's finest. Perhaps we can find a photo that could be posted, not just here in the NKHS 62 blog but on the Virtual Wall, all to his honor.

He may have had few worldly possessions when he was at home or when he went away, and in the end, he gave his all.  

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