Medal of Honor recipient from California gave his life to save others in Vietnam 53 years ago today

Donald Ward Evans

At the California Department of Veterans Affairs’ headquarters in downtown Sacramento, the Medal of Honor Hall pays tribute to all of the Californians who received the nation’s most revered military honor. Each recipient’s story provides a compelling description of bravery and valor.

Among those decorated, Army Specialist Fourth Class Donald Ward Evans, Jr., was killed in action 53 years ago today (January 27) in Vietnam.

Just 23 at the time, the Covina resident was honored posthumously by President Johnson on behalf of Congress. An excerpt from the citation reads: “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, in action against enemy aggressor forces at Tri Tam, Republic of Vietnam, on 27 January 1967.”

Evans’ platoon had not yet joined the battle when he went into the fray anyway to provide medical aid to soldiers from another platoon already involved in the heavy fighting.

“Dashing across 100 meters of open area through a withering hail of enemy fire and exploding grenades, he administered lifesaving treatment to one individual and continued to expose himself to deadly fire as he moved to treat each of the other wounded men and to offer them encouragement,” his citation continued.

Evans dragged one wounded soldier to safety, and then went back for more. A fragment from an enemy grenade wounded Evans as well, but he kept going and evacuated yet another soldier and treated others. Though his own wounds were severe, Evans refused medical treatment. Nor would he remain in a safe area.

“Disregarding his painful wounds and seriously weakened from profuse bleeding, he continued his lifesaving medical aid and was killed while treating another wounded comrade,” the citation reads. “Specialist Fourth Class Evans’ 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.”

His family received his medal from Secretary of the Army Stanley A. Resor in a ceremony at the Pentagon on June 4, 1968.

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