McMorris Rodgers Presents Purple Heart To Korean War Veteran From Usk

Usk, Wash. – Yesterday afternoon, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) presented 94-year-old U.S. Army veteran, Corporal Donald Donner, with the Purple Heart in recognition of the wounds he sustained while courageously fighting in the Korean War. Cpl. Donner enlisted in the Army in 1948 and was originally stationed in Japan as a radio operator. In 1950, his infantry unit was reassigned to the Korean peninsula, where he sustained multiple bullet wounds to his right leg from enemy fire and was taken prisoner by North Korean forces. Donner and the other POWs suffered extreme brutality and abuse before being rescued and returned home to the United States in 1953.

“The United States of America would not be the greatest country on earth without people like Corporal Donald Donner. He is a true American hero with a story defined by courage and resilience in the face of unspeakable evil,” said Rodgers. “Cpl. Donner’s devotion to duty and country never wavered despite being seriously wounded and taken hostage in North Korea for three and a half years. He is more than worthy of the Purple Heart, which I was honored to present to him today surrounded by family and loved ones. I know I speak for our entire community when I say thank you, Donald, for your extraordinary service to our country. You are an inspiration to us!”

To be eligible for the Purple Heart, Army regulations place a strict emphasis on clear documentation of injuries and related medical treatment in a servicemember’s medical records. Unfortunately, since Cpl. Donner was taken prisoner before being able to receive medical attention, he found himself at a disadvantage for receiving the recognition he deserved.

In September 2023, Cpl. Donner’s grandson Jason, who is also an Army veteran, reached out to the Congresswoman’s office for help. After months of her team working with the Army’s Awards and Decorations branch to navigate the complexities of Cpl. Donner’s award application, he was finally approved to receive his Purple Heart in February 2024.

About Corporal Donald Donner

Cpl. Donald Donner enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1948 and originally served as a radio operator while stationed in Japan. When the Korean War broke out in June 1950, Donner’s infantry unit was reassigned to the Korean peninsula. Just weeks later, Cpl. Donner sustained multiple bullet wounds to his right leg during combat with North Korean troops in July.

Before being able to receive medical treatment for his combat injuries, Cpl. Donner and more than 50 other men were taken prisoner by North Korean forces. He was made to march north with over 700 other Prisoners of War (POW) through North Korea. Now known as The Tiger Death March, this brutal nine day trek through North Korea killed more than 100 of the American soldiers, including Cpl. Glen L. Pratt, Cpl. Donner’s friend and fellow Washingtonian. It was on this march that Cpl. Donner sought help from his fellow U.S. soldiers to remove the multiple bullets from his leg. These efforts, while not undertaken in a medical setting, were successful.

In the months and years that followed, Cpl. Donner and his fellow POWs were subject to extreme brutality and abuse, with Donner suffering a broken jaw at the hands of his North Korean captors. This injury, like his bullet wounds, were corroborated by his fellow POWs. 

Cpt. Donald Donner was rescued and returned home to the United States in 1953. Today, he is 94 years old and lives in Usk, Washington. 

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