John Delane Volner

Private First Class
Army of the United States
21 September 1946 - 17 February 1967
Lexington, Tennessee
Panel 15E Line 055


Distinguished Service Cross

Combat Infantry

Bronze Star, Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Delane Volner

12 Oct 2005


by his brother,
Greg Volner
E-mail address is not available.
16 Jun 2007

On Flag Day, 2007, I saw your name on the KIA monument at the Henderson County Court Square in Lexington, TN along with all the other veterans from our other wars who, like you, gave the surpreme sacrifice, that we can remain free. Freedom comes with a price, it is not free. On behalf of all our local citizens, I want to say "Thank You". We honor you this day.

From a friend.

A Note from The Virtual Wall

SAM HOUSTON was a border-clearing search and destroy operation along the Cambodian border in western Kontum and northwestern Pleiku Provinces - essentially the Plei Trap Valley area. On 02 Jan 1967 elements of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division initiated the operation by establishing a brigade headquarters at the new Plei Djereng airfield and a fire support base 20 kilometers further west. Apart from a few mortar attacks, which caused little damage, the North Vietnamese Army did not respond to US operations during the first six weeks of SAM HOUSTON. That changed in mid-February.

Reports of an NVA buildup west of the Nam Sathay River led to movements by the 2nd Bn, 8th Infantry and 1st Bn, 12th Infantry into the Plei Trap Valley proper. Late on 14 Feb Charlie 1/12 reached Landing Zone 501 North, just east of the river, advising Battalion headquarters that the treelines around the LZ area contained freshly built but unoccupied bunkers and fighting positions. C Company established a defensive perimeter, anticipating that the remainder of the battalion would arrive on 15 Feb - but the North Vietnamese arrived first.

At dawn on 15 Feb Charlie 1/12 was attacked by the 8th Battalion, 66th NVA Regiment, beginning a fight that lasted throughout the day. Air and artillery support prevented Charlie from being overrun, and by late afternoon Bravo Company had arrived via combat assault into LZ 501N. Alpha Company also arrived, but was positioned to threaten the NVA's flanks. Fighting tapered off after nightfall and the NVA did not elect to attempt a second attack. 1/12 spent 16 and 17 Feb sweeping the area around LZ 501N and reorganizing; both Bravo and Charlie Companies had been hard hit. The fighting on 15 Feb resulted in 10 men killed and 42 wounded from 1/12, while the 4th Aviantion Bn had one helo aircrewman killed when a Huey was shot down in the LZ. Two more men from 1/12 were killed during the sweeps on 16 Feb, and an artillery short round killed one soldier on the 17th. The NVA left 128 bodies on the field of battle and four NVA soldiers were captured.

The US dead were

  • B Company:
    • SGT Harvey M. Carkin, Vienna, VA (02/15/1967)
    • CPL Wayne N. Card, Whittier, CA (02/16/1967)
    • SP4 Johnie N. Daniels, Redfield, AR (02/15/1967)
    • SP4 Ronald C. Gehler, Sioux Falls, SD (02/15/1967)
    • SP4 Michael P. Reilly, La Grange, IL (02/15/1967)
    • PFC John D. Volner, Lexington, TN (02/17/1967) (Dist Svc Cross)

  • C Company:
    • PSGT Richard A. Carver, Escondido, CA (02/15/1967)
    • SSG John J. Raymond, Taunton, MA (02/15/1967)
    • SSG William D. Wessells, Accomac, VA (02/16/1967)
    • SP4 James L. Kramer, Las Vegas, NV (02/15/1967)
    • PFC Louis E. Willett, Richmond Hill, NY (02/15/1967) (Medal of Honor)

  • HQ Company:
    • CPL Eric B. Speak, Costa Mesa, CA (02/15/1967)
    • PFC Van Dyke W. Manners, Ringoes, NJ (02/15/1967)

  • A Co, 4th Avn Bn
    • SGT Allen B. Chamberlain, Palm Beach, FL (02/15/1967)
APO San Francisco

April 15, 1967



1. TC 320. The following AWARD is announced posthumously.

VOLNER, John Delane Private First Class, U.S. Army
Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division

Awarded: Distinguished Service Cross
Date action: 15 - 17 February 1967
Theater: Republic of Vietnam
Reason: The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to John Delane Volner, Private First Class, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam, while serving with Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. Private First Class Volner distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions during the period 15 February 1967 to 17 February 1967 while serving as radio-telephone operator with an infantry unit during combat operations in Kontum Province. After learning that lead elements of his force were pinned down by intense cross fire from hostile emplacements, Private Volner unhesitatingly volunteered to move to their position to keep the company commander informed of developments in that sector. When these men were able to withdraw to higher ground, Private Volner received notice that another platoon was about to be overrun. Unflinching under the hail of fire that raked the area, he threaded his way into the pinned platoon. With a clearheaded account of enemy movements, he enabled the company commander to effectively maneuver his forces. On the evening of 17 February, Private Volner detected movement outside his unit's perimeter. His alertness prompted the company commander to call for artillery fire. While he was radioing information to the command post, Private Volner heard artillery rounds coming in on his own position. Heedless of his own safety, he grabbed a comrade moments before a round struck, pulled him to the bottom of the foxhole, and threw his own body on top of him to shield him from the blast. Private Volner was fatally wounded in this selfless and courageous sacrifice to save his comrade. Private First Class Volner's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
Authority: By direction of the President under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved 9 July 1918.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 12 Oct 2005
Last updated 08/10/2009