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DONALD JOSEPH REILLY


is honored on Panel 4E, Line 4 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

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REMEMBRANCES

  • Navy Cross

    Posted on 12/9/17 - by A US Marine, Vietnam
    Donald Joseph Reilly
    Date of birth: 20-Feb-29
    Date of death: December 9, 1965
    Home of record: St. Louis Missouri
    Status: KIA

    AWARDS AND CITATIONS

    Navy Cross

    Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

    The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Major Donald Joseph Reilly (MCSN: 0-61230), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as a Helicopter Pilot in Marine Observation Squadron TWO (VMO-2), Marine Aircraft Group SIXTEEN, First Marine Aircraft Wing, in the Republic of Vietnam on 9 December 1965. With his squadron engaged in air support operations for Task Force Delta in Quang Tin Province, Major Reilly was designated as Tactical Aircraft Coordinator (Airborne). Reporting on station about 1800, he immediately answered an emergency request for support from a Marine company which was part of a mobile alert force that had been helicopter-lifted into a hostile area where it was heavily engaged by the Viet Cong using mortars, automatic weapons, and small arms. Although exposed to hostile rifle and machine-gun fire, he, with selfless determination and skill, fearlessly delivered devastating fire from low altitudes upon the Viet Cong who were encircling the company. Later, in response to a request for evacuation of eleven of the company wounded, he prepared to land. In darkness and under a 1200 foot overcast with three miles visibility he arranged for the company to guide him on the final approach with a flashlight. Directing his wingman to remain aloft and assist only if he were successful, he turned off aircraft lights and resolutely commenced his approach. Although encountering intense small-arms fire, he pressed on with determination and while slowing for landing, received a severe bullet wound. His copilot was unable to take over in time and the aircraft crashed on landing in the friendly zone. No further evacuations could be attempted due to enemy resistance until several hours later that night and by that time Major Reilly had succumbed to his grievous wound. His self-sacrificing action in the face of overwhelming odds sustained and enhanced the finest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.

    General Orders: Authority: Navy Department Board of Decorations and Medals

    Action Date: 9-Dec-65

    Service: Marine Corps

    Rank: Major

    Company: Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2)

    Regiment: Marine Aircraft Group 16 (MAG-16)

    Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
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  • Silver Star

    Posted on 12/9/17 - by A US Marine, Vietnam
    Silver Star

    Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

    The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Major Donald Joseph Reilly (MCSN: 0-61230), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Marine Observation Squadron TWO (VMO-2), FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 18 November 1965 and on the night of 21 - 22 November 1965. Major Reilly's mission was flying armed UH-1E helicopters in flights escorting UH-34D helicopters into unsecured landing zones. On 18 November, near Hiep Dup, the armament panel of his aircraft was knocked out by a .50 caliber round rendering his primary armament system useless. Though the aircraft was partially disabled he continued to fly along the flanks of the transport helicopters to draw enemy fire away from them. Then he reduced the weight of his craft by dropping the external rocket pods in order to medically evacuate wounded. Because of the rough, broken terrain he was unable to land his craft and the loading of the wounded was accomplished only through his skillful airmanship has he hovered a few feet from the ground with intense enemy mortar and machine gun fire grazing the helicopter throughout the operation. On the night of 21 - 22 November, during a medical evacuation he descended into an unsecured zone after the rescue helicopter was forced to abort the mission because of lack of fuel after several unsuccessful attempts at landing. Major Reilly elected to remain in the area, alone, for another try. With the help of mortar illumination he located the zone, but, on descending found that landing was impossible due to rough terrain. With great skill he hovered the aircraft on one skid and coolly maintained his position until pickup of the wounded was completed although the zone was under heavy fire. His uncommon valor, extraordinary initiative, coolness under fire, and superior flying ability reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    Action Date: November 18 & 21 - 22, 1965

    Service: Marine Corps

    Rank: Major

    Company: Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2)

    Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
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  • Distinguished Flying Cross

    Posted on 12/9/17 - by A US Marine, Vietnam

    Distinguished Flying Cross


    Awarded for actions during the Vietnam War

    The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Flying Cross (Posthumously) to Major Donald Joseph Reilly (MCSN: 0-61230), United States Marine Corps, for heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight as the Pilot of a UH-1E helicopter serving with Marine Observation Squadron TWO (VMO-2) in the Republic of Vietnam on 18 August 1965. Major Reilly was flying armed escort and combat missions in support of Operation STARLITE near Chu Lai when, while actively engaging insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces during his first sortie, his aircraft was hit by intense ground fire necessitating an immediate emergency landing in the battle area. After hasty repairs, he was able to return the aircraft to the air base. Boarding a second aircraft, he courageously returned to the battle zone and, assuming the role of a forward air controller, boldly attempted to mark enemy positions for jet aircraft in order to relieve a friendly beleaguered amphibian tractor supply column. His aircraft was severely damaged by incessant enemy ground fire and his aerial gunner was wounded, requiring another return to the base. He boarded another aircraft and continued the mission. Arriving at the battle area, he received a request for emergency evacuation of three wounded Marines. In the absence of medical evacuation helicopters, he decided to land and rescue the casualties. He set down amid heavy fire, sustaining several hits to his aircraft. Because he had no communication with the ground forces and being uncertain of the extent of damage to his aircraft, he was forced to return to the air base. Major Reilly's calm courage under fire and inspiring devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    Action Date: August 18, 1965

    Service: Marine Corps

    Rank: Major

    Company: Marine Observation Squadron 2 (VMO-2)

    Division: 1st Marine Aircraft Wing
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  • In Honor

    Posted on 12/9/17 - by John Braun birds@epix.net
    MAJ Reilly, You are remembered and honored. UH-1E 151847, Quang Tin Province, I Corps.
  • A L/Cpl from VMO-2

    Posted on 2/4/15 - by RichColo@gmail.com
    I remember the Major very well from when I served as a door gunner in VMO-2.
    He stood out as a gracious and courageous officer - a high model as a Marine officer.
    His death was a loss to everyone who had contact with him, and to the Marine Corps.
    Semper Fidelis, Major.

    MORE
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The Wall of Faces

Brought to you by the organization that built The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Virtual Memorial Wall is dedicated to honoring, remembering and sharing the legacies of all those who died in the Vietnam War. Here you can go beyond the names on The Wall to see the faces, share the stories and read the remembrances posted by friends, neighbors, classmates and family members.