Donald Walter Holleder

Major
HQ CO, 1ST BDE, 1ST INF DIV, USARV
Army of the United States
03 August 1934 - 17 October 1967
Webster, New York
Panel 28E Line 025

USARV 1 INF DIV
Silver Star

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for Donald Walter Holleder

28 Jan 2006

"Major Holleder overflew the area (under attack) and saw a whole lot of Viet Cong and many American soldiers, most wounded, trying to make their way out of the ambush area. He landed and headed straight into the jungle, gathering a few soldiers to help him go get the wounded.

"A sniper's shot killed him before he could get very far. He was a risk-taker who put the common good ahead of himself, whether it was giving up a position in which he had excelled or putting himself in harm's way in an attempt to save the lives of his men. My contact with Major Holleder was very brief and occurred just before he was killed, but I have never forgotten him and the sacrifice he made.

"On a day when acts of heroism were the rule, rather than the exception, his stood out."

- Dave Berry, Army Medic

Major Holleder has inspired the creation of a symbol of recognition known as "The Black Lion Award". The Black Lion Award is NOT an individual award in the same sense as a Most Valuable Player award, because it is intended to go to a player who personifies team play - "who best exemplifies the character of Don Holleder: leadership, courage, devotion to duty, self-sacrifice, and - above all - an unselfish concern for the team ahead of himself."

In Don Holleder's honor, the Army Football Club presents the Black Lions Award annually to a member of the Army football team. In Don Holleder's honor, the Army Football Club presents the Black Lions Award annually to a member of the Army football team. Also, thanks to Coach Hugh Wyatt, a high school coach from Camas, Washington, The Black Lion Award is available to any youth, middle school or high school team, nationwide, as well. All are invited to participate and present the award. The Black Lion Award is available to any youth, middle school or high school team, nationwide, as well. All are invited to participate and present the award.

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A Note from The Virtual Wall

The 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry had been operating west of the village of Chon Thanh since October 8th, conducting "search and destroy" operations in an area known to be occupied by large Viet Cong forces. Only four of the battalion's five companies (HHC, A, B, and D) were involved; C Company was providing fire base security for the supporting artillery unit.

On the morning of 17 October, Alpha Company led out from the night defensive perimeter on a recon-in-force with the battalion command group in company and Delta Company in trail. Around noontime Alpha was engaged by a very much larger enemy force and Delta Company deployed in support. By the time the remaining forces could deploy in support of the engaged troops, the battalion command group and both Alpha and Delta had sustained very heavy casualties. Charlie Company was air-lifted in to assist Bravo and HHC and by late afternoon the area was secured as the VC forces withdrew.

The fighting on 17 October resulted in 55 men killed in action, 3 who later died of their wounds, two missing in action, and 75 or more wounded. All 65 men in Alpha Company had been killed or wounded, Delta Company was little better off, and the Battalion Commander and his command group were dead.

The Virtual Wall's Ong Thanh memorial summarizes the action and lists the dead. The 2/28's artillery Forward Observer, 2nd Lt Harold Durham (C Btry, 6/15th Arty), received a posthumous Medal of Honor for his actions, and the 15th Arty's memorial includes a newspaper article which gives another account of the battle.




This photograph was taken by SP5 Verland Gilbertson, a combat photographer from C Company, 121st Signal Battalion, who was attached to 2/28 Infantry for Operation SHENANDOAH. From the left are Colonel George Newman, 1st Brigade Commander; Lieutenant Colonel Terry Allen Jr., 2/28th Infantry Commander; Major Donald Holleder, Brigade S-3; Brigadier General William Coleman, Assistant Division Commander; and First Lieutenant Albert Welch, Delta 2/28 Commander.

By day's end, LTC Allen, MAJ Holleder, and SP5 Gilbertson were dead.



Major Holleder had been an All-American tight end at West Point in 1954 and quarterbacked the Cadets during his senior year. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


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28 Jan 2006



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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 01/30/2006