SP4 Donald W. Evans, Jr. USA Medal of Honor
BY DUANE A. VACHON PH.D. One of the great loves in Evans life was the Riverside International Raceway. Only 30 miles from Evans home town, Covina California. During the 60’s and 70’s Riverside was the gathering place of those who loved racing. Nascar raced there as did the Can-Am and Trans Am series. Evans spoke often of his days racing at that track and vowed to return there someday.
There was an even greater love in Evans life. Six months prior to being inducted into the service he married the love of his life, Bonnie Jean. Bonnie never remarried after Evans death.
Ready to live the American dream, married to the love of his life Bonnie Jean, a Master’s Degree from Pepperdine. Life looked good for Evans and his wife. The Selective Service and the NVA were about to shatter their dreams.
Evans was twenty-two when he was inducted into the Army, and after basic training he was selected to be trained as a Medic. In May, 1966, after his medical training, he was attached to A/2/12 of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division while the unit was still training at Fort Lewis Washington.
The unit arrived in Vietnam in mid-October, 1966. It wasn’t until January 27 1967 Evans and his unit engaged the enemy in any high intensity. While the unit was sweeping an area in Binh Duong Province, east of Dau Tieng, they came up on an enemy bunker complex. During a firefight that day, in Tri Tam, Republic of Vietnam, Evans repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire in order to treat and evacuate wounded soldiers, even after being seriously wounded himself. He was killed during the battle and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions He was also awarded the Purple Heart. The United States Army hospital at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs,Colorado is named in his honor as Evans Army Community Hospital He was the first 4th Infantry Division soldier and first Medic to receive the CMH in Vietnam. Doc Evans as he was called by his fellow soldiers was sorely missed by his Brothers in the Company. All who came to know Evans understood Doc’s unselfish nature and putting other people’s safety above his own.
Specialist Evans’ official Medal of Honor citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. He left his position of relative safety with his platoon which had not yet been committed to the battle to answer the calls for medical aid from the wounded men of another platoon which was heavily engaged with the enemy force. Dashing across 100 meters of open area through a withering hail of enemy fire and exploding grenades, he administered lifesaving treatment to 1 individual and continued to expose himself to the deadly enemy fire as he moved to treat each of the other wounded men and to offer them encouragement. Realizing that the wounds of 1 man required immediate attention, Sp4 Evans dragged the injured soldier back across the dangerous fire-swept area, to a secure position from which he could be further evacuated. Miraculously escaping the enemy fusillade, Sp4 Evans returned to the forward location. As he continued the treatment of the wounded, he was struck by fragments from an enemy grenade. Despite his serious and painful injury he succeeded in evacuating another wounded comrade, rejoined his platoon as it was committed to battle and was soon treating other wounded soldiers. As he evacuated another wounded man across the fire covered field, he was severely wounded. Continuing to refuse medical attention and ignoring advice to remain behind, he managed with his waning strength to move yet another wounded comrade across the dangerous open area to safety. Disregarding his painful wounds and seriously weakened from profuse bleeding, he continued his lifesaving medical aid and was killed while treating another wounded comrade. Sp4 Evan’s extraordinary valor, dedication and indomitable spirit saved the lives of several of his fellow soldiers, served as an inspiration to the men of his company, were instrumental in the success of their mission, and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
// Lyndon B Johnson// President
Often when I am doing the research for these articles I speak with relatives of the Medal Of Honor recipients. It always moves me, the grief and pain of loss are still present, decades after the loss of their loved one.
It moves me as well when I consider the lost potential of these young men who had their lives snuffed out so early. An example is Senator Daniel Inouye, Medal of Honor recipient. I had the privilege of knowing him and can speak from personal experience that this man who was third in line for the Presidency should anything happen to both the President and the Vice President would have been a great loss to our nation had he been killed in battle. All that he achieved, all of his potential would have died with him. You only need to ask any Hawaiian what kind of man the Senator was and what he did for this country and his fellow Hawaiians. I can share a personal story that will give you some insight into what kind of person the Senator was. I walked into a room where he was waiting to attend a ceremony; the Senator had lost an arm in a battle in Italy. I walk with a walking stick as a result of wounds received in Vietnam. The Senator said hello Duane, and then commented that we would make a good team, he could kick the bad guys and I could slap them.
This man made a positive difference in the life’s of thousands, this would all have been lost had he died in battle. Sadly there are many whose potential we will never know because they had their life taken from them well before they had time to put their mark on our world.
As you read these articles give a moment’s thought to what these men could have become. The lives they might have touched, the positive difference they may have made to the world.
Evans is buried next to his father in Oakdale Memorial Park, Glendora, California.
It’s interesting to note that Elsie Evans, Evans’ mom dedicated her life to the disadvantaged veterans of her community working as a veteran’s advocate. She passed on in May, 2001. Caring must be in their gene pool.
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.