Vietnam veteran Jerold Donath of Kewaskum on June Honor Flight | By Samantha Sali

May 31, 2019 – Kewaskum, WI – Vietnam War veteran Jerold Donath, 72, of Kewaskum, is heading to Washington D.C. on the June 1 Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Donath was born in 1947 to Orin, a meat cutter, and Mildred, a stay-at-home-mother. He was raised around the Kewaskum and West Bend area, graduating from high school in 1965.

He worked at Gehl until he decided to enlist into the Navy in 1966, “I don’t know why I chose the Navy,” Donath said. “At that time, you either enlisted or you were drafted.”

Donath was sent to Basic Training in Great Lakes, Illinois shortly after enlisting. “It was in the middle of winter and it was very limited to what we could do outside. There was a lot of indoor classwork. After Basic, I was in Reserves for a year. We had weekly meetings and more classes…  just general studies.”

In 1967, Donath went into active duty. “I was home ported in San Diego and left for Vietnam on the USS Colonial on November 1967.

Donath was a machinist on the USS Colonial. “It was just day-by-day. We traveled up and down the coast, starting in Saigon,” he said.

Photo Credit: NavSource.org

On December 1968, Donath’s service ended, coming home as an E4, “When I came home, I went back to work at Gehl and then worked for the 7up bottling company for 30 years before retiring in 2013,” he said.

Donath and his wife, Lauren, have been married 52 years and have three children and four grandchildren, the youngest being 10 years old.

While Donath did have friends who shared their memorable experiences on past Honor Flights, it was his son, Jon, who asked if Donath wanted to sign up.

Jon, who works for Gordon Food Services, will be his father’s guardian on the flight.

After the Honor Flight is over, Donath plans on doing yard work this summer and maybe a road trip with his wife.

Click HERE to read more about veterans from Washington County on the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight.

Justin Notham

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