Name: R.D. McDonell
Rank/Branch: E6/US Army
Unit: Troop B, 1st Squad, 1st Cavalry, 23rd Infantry Division (Americal)
Date of Birth: 21 January 1943
Home City of Record: Sweetwater TX
Date of Loss: 25 March 1971
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 164252N 1064203E (XD813486)
Status (in 1973): Killed/Body Not Recovered
Category: 2
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: Ground
Other Personnel in Incident: Manuel R. Puentes; Richard J. Rossano (missing)


Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK from one or more of the following: raw
data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA
families, published sources, interviews.  2020

SYNOPSIS: On March 25, 1971, PFC Manuel R. Puentes, PFC Richard J. Rossano, and
SSgt. R.D. McDonell were rifleman and members of a 12 man combat patrol
operating in northwest Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, a few miles south of
the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Their patrol leader was Jimmy C. Johnson.

During the patrol, the team was ambushed by enemy forces. It was reported that
PFC Rossano was the first man to be hit, apparently by a blast from a grenade.
Puentes was seen wounded, but moving under his own power seeking cover. The
patrol was forced to withdraw. Johnson, Puentes, Rossano and McDonell were left

Attempts by reaction forces to reenter the area were unsuccessful. Johnson was
later recovered with bad wounds in the lower body. He reported that Sgt.
McDonell had picked up a grenade to throw it back at the enemy, but the device
had exploded in his hand, killing him immediately.

McDonell was listed as killed, body not recovered. Rossano was also considered
to be dead, but his body was not recovered. Puentes was declared Missing in
Action, since he was last seen alive. There is a distinct possibility that he
was captured. The Vietnamese undoubtedly know the fates of all three men.

Since the war ended in Southeast Asia, thousands of refugee reports have been
received indicating that many Americans are still alive in captivity. Men like
McDonell and Rossano gave all they had for the cause of freedom. Puentes may
yet be serving his country. Can we afford to turn our backs on these men?




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On March 25, 1971, an American patrol was operating in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam, when they were engaged by an enemy force of unknown size. The patrol managed to break contact with the enemy but were forced to leave the patrol leader and three other members behind due to the intense enemy fire. The patrol leader eventually evaded the enemy and made his way to safety. He reported that two of the three patrol members had been killed in the attack, and the third was wounded but still moving under his own power. Attempts to locate and recover the remains of these three patrol members following the attack were unsuccessful. 

Staff Sergeant R.D. McDonell entered the U.S. Army from Texas and served in Troop B, 1st Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 23rd Infantry (Americal) Division. He was one of the patrol members killed in the attack, and his remains were never recovered. Today, Staff Sergeant McDonell is memorialized on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

Based on all information available, DPAA assessed the individual's case to be in the analytical category of Active Pursuit.

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