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Front Page » May 31, 2011 » Local News » Memory of fallen Marine lives on in library books
Published 1,150 days ago

Memory of fallen Marine lives on in library books


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By JOHN SERFUSTINI
Sun Advocate associate editor

The epitaph carved into the granite monument in the Price City Cemetery reads, "God Alone Understands."

The grave belongs to Richard P. Donathan, who was 22 years old when he was killed in combat in August 1966 in a place called Tam Ky, South Vietnam.

There are other monuments now to the Helper Marine, who fell just a few weeks after his birthday and a few weeks before he was due to rotate home and get married.

These are not granite, but paper and electronic media. The new memorials part of collection in his honor, paid for by a $1,000 gift from Lois (last name withheld), the girl he might have married.

According to her sister, Linda Morical of Richmond, B.C., Lois wanted "to bring Dick's life and death to awareness these many decades later, as we all have a duty to remember the young lives lost then and now to safeguard our country."

Dick Donathan died while trying to knock out a North Vietnamese machine gun nest that was sending withering fire over his company of Marines. He volunteered to go after the machine gun with a small detail of comrades, but found himself the last man standing in the assault.

He decided to go it alone. ("God alone understands.") Medical corpsman TC Long, deciding that Donathan would need first aid, followed.

Donathan was hit and went down. Long rushed to his aid and then was crippled by a round through the back of his own knee. Donathan then reversed roles, giving first aid to the corpsman.

It was then that Dick Donathan caught two rounds in the back, collapsing paralyzed over Long. Long was pinned. Donathan and Long, trapped, passed the time talking, as Donathan's voice and his life faded away.

The incident is recorded in the book, "Small unit action in Vietnam, Summer 1966," by Capt. Francis West, USMCR.

Donathan, a graduate of Carbon High School, was an avid reader and into physical fitness. Price librarian Norma Procarione said the books and media in his honor reflect his taste in subject matter.

There are books about physical fitness, natural history, environment and history.

Linda Morical writes that she and Lois have met with veterans who knew Dick Donathan. Years and years later, they still remember him as a "squared away Marine," a high compliment in the Corps.

Donathan's remains and the wounded Long were both rescued by fellow Marines after vicious fighting. Bringing back the dead and wounded is, in the words of Capt. West, "a tradition more precious than life."

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May 31, 2011
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