"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God."

You'll find that inscription on the inside of a wedding band belonging to Vietnam Medal of Honor Recipient, Colonel Roger Donlon, U.S. Army Special Forces (Ret.). It was given to him by his wife Norma, a Vietnam-era Gold Star wife.

Wreaths Across America believes the Donlon's are indeed a gift in what they have become. These two quiet and humble individuals are a team dedicated to giving back to their nation. They educate others by sharing their experiences and lessons of love and sacrifice not just from the war but the other "battlefields of life."

The Donlon's have honored us with their companionship for the grand opening of the Wreaths Across America Museum's Welcome Home Exhibit and then again for the 2017 Annual Wreath Escort to Arlington National Cemetery back in December.

One evening during the trip, which Roger called "simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting," we escaped the group and ducked into a hotel conference room for a quick chat. While we knew of Roger's service and heroism that earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Vietnam War, we knew very little about Norma's past experiences that made her a member of the club no one wants to join. She became a Gold Star wife.

Roger was shipped off to Vietnam in 1964. In 1965, a newly-wed young man, stationed in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division stepped up to volunteer to take a shotgun platoon to Vietnam. A week before he was to return home to his bride Norma, 1 LT John W. Irving Jr. was killed in action. Norma explains it was some time after his death that she learned of the circumstances.

"His unit was preparing to transport some Vietnamese Rangers to the front when he looked at the door gunner that day and said 'hey Chip I'm going to ride one more time and he took his place on the chopper. When the choppers went to drop the Rangers, he was killed instantly by hostile ground fire."

In this video, Norma shares more about how she and her late husband's family were treated during the Vietnam era. The Donlon's also share how they have been impacted by the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach. They express their gratitude for the improvements we've made as a nation in honoring our Vietnam veterans and Gold Star families.

The Donlon's both agreed the most lasting image they witnessed while traveling as part of the escort were the groups of young children waving American flags along the route, and of those who participated in welcoming ceremonies singing patriotic songs and honoring veterans.

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