R. D. McDonell

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
21 January 1943 - 25 March 1971
Sweetwater, Texas
Panel 04W Line 077


Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for R. D. McDonell

7 Mar 2005

R. D. McDonell was born and raised in Sweetwater, Texas. He was born into a large family of five brothers and two sisters. He attended Sweetwater High School. He married his childhood sweetheart in 1961 and was called back into the service in 1965. R. D. was the proud parent of two sons and a daughter. He served a previous tour in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division.

He was listed as MIA, presumed dead on 25 March 1971. His body has never been returned. His wife re-married and raised their three children. She still hopes for a his remains to be located and returned home. R. D. and Darlene are the proud grandparents of five grandchildren. His parents and three brothers have passed away without a resolution to his case.

R.D. is remembered by his family, his community of Sweetwater and by the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial in Midland, Texas.

From a PBVVM representative,
Billy M. Brown

A Note from The Virtual Wall

On 15 March 1971 a 12-man patrol from B Troop, 1/1 Cavalry, walked into an ambush while operating just south of the Demilitarized Zone. Then-PFC Richard Rossano was hit and apparently killed by a grenade; the patrol leader was down, seriously wounded; then-PFC Manuel Puentes was wounded but moving; PFC Randall Thompson was down with gunshot wounds; and SSgt R. D. McDonell was killed when he attempted to scoop up an enemy grenade.

The remaining members of the patrol were forced to pull back under heavy fire, leaving the five men - 3 apparently dead, 2 wounded - behind. Initial attempts by reaction forces to reenter the area were unsuccessful, but eventually the NVA troops withdrew. The wounded patrol leader was found still alive, and PFC Thompson's body was recovered - but the other three men could not be found. Since PFC Puentes was last seen alive he was classed as Missing in Action, while SSgt McDonell and PFC Rossano were classed as Killed in Action, Body not Recovered. On 06 Sept 1978 the Secretary of the Army approved a Presumptive Finding of Death for Puentes. The final status for the five men left behind is

  • SSG Jimmy R. Johnson, WIA 03/25/1971, rescued;
  • SSG R D. McDonell, Sweetwater, TX, KIA/BNR 03/25/1971;
  • SSG Manuel R. Puentes, El Paso, TX, MIA with PFOD 09/06/1978;
  • CPL Richard J. Rossano, New York, NY, KIA/BNR 03/25/1971; and
  • CPL Randall A. Thompson, Evansville, IN, KIA 03/25/1971.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009