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Memorial Mission

MAJ Donald W. Holleder, KIA
US Army - Vietnam

Rochester, New York - 17 Oct 2017


The Patriot Guard Riders have been requested to honor local hero Donald Walter Holleder, a United States Army Major who was killed in Vietnam, October 17, 1967.

Major Holleder was born in Buffalo, New York, and at age 13, he and his family moved to Irondequoit. He attended high school at the Aquinas Institute in nearby Rochester, where he was heavily recruited by a number of top college football recruiters, including West Point's offensive coach Vince Lombardi.  Donald elected to enroll at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

As a junior in 1954, he was named to the All-America team as an end. The following season, Army head coach Colonel Red Blaik asked him to move to quarterback. The team finished with a record of 6-3-0, including a rousing upset of Navy that led to Major Holleder's appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated. One of Holleder's classmates at West Point was General Norman Schwarzkopf. They both graduated in the Class of 1956.

In 1967, Major Holleder requested to be sent to Vietnam, where he became the Operations Officer for 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division.

During the Battle of Ong Thanh on Tuesday October 17, 1967, he and his commanding officer were overflying the battle in a helicopter. They observed the entire command unit on the ground had been killed and the remaining men were in serious trouble. Don volunteered to organize a rescue effort. Upon landing, Major Holleder secured three volunteers and rushed to the battle site. Running far in front of his volunteers, he was gunned down and killed by a sniper. The volunteers who accompanied him pulled him into cover behind a tree. Before they could apply emergency first aid, Major Holleder died. He is interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

On Tuesday, October 17, the Holleder Army Reserve Center will conduct a commemoration ceremony, marking 50 years since Major Holleder's death. As part of that commemoration, the Patriot Guard Riders will escort an American Flag that was flown over the Capitol on 3 August 2017 from Aquinas High to to the Reserve Center, while passing by Major Hollender's mother's gravesite, and her home where the telegram announcing his death in Vietnam was delivered. The trip is approx 30 miles total will take about 40-45 minutes. We will arrive at the Reserve Center, deliver the flag to the Honor Guard and stand a flag line for posting of the Colors. His daughters, West Point roommate and others will speak and watch a DVD chronicling this hero's numerous accomplishments.

We should have LEO assistance for escort/ intersection control, of flag -- Thru Webster. Feel free to meet and join at any of the approximate times / staging drive bys. Please watch your e-mail and check for updates on the PGRNY website for more info as I work out details with PD and hosts.

Primary Staging Time: 4:30 P.M.

The Aquinas Institute
1127 Dewey Ave.
Rochester, New York - 14613

Ride Captain:

Dave Nichols

Special Instructions:

Dignified transfer of flag--KSU 4:45-4:50 pm -- drive via 104 to Webster Union Cemetery, 345 Webster Rd @ Woodhull, drive through w pause. KSU 5:15-5:20 pm --- drive via Lake Rd. to 618 Lake Rd, private road, drive by pause. KSU 5:35-5:40 pm. Arrive @ Reserve Center 5:50-5:55 pm for transfer. Establish flag line 6 pm for ceremony.

Flags & Water:

Flags Will NOT Be Provided, Please Bring Your Own.
If you have large bike flags, please bring them.
Water WILL NOT be provided, please bring your own.

Submitted By: Dave Nichols
Position: Ride Captain

 (click on flyer to download)

HOTH Assistance Flyer Rev B

PGRNY is an all volunteer 501c3 organization. Donations support our mission of honoring the fallen and Veterans and are tax deductible.

Checks payable to Patriot Guard Riders of NY may be sent to:

PO Box 637

Wappingers Falls, NY 12590

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