Words of Major Michael Davis O’Donnell; KIA, Dak To, 1970


Major Michael O’Donnell


Major Michael O’Donnell was a helicopter pilot killed in action near Dak To, Vietnam in March of 1970. Although I did not know Major O’Donnell we were in Vietnam at the same time, and in some of the same places. This is a poem he penned several months before his death.



If you are able,


save them a place


inside of you


and save one backward glance


when you are leaving


for the places they can


no longer go.


Be not ashamed to say


you loved them,


though you may


or may not have always.


Take what they have left


and what they have taught you


with their dying


and keep it with your own.


And in that time


when men decide and feel safe


to call the war insane,


take one moment to embrace


those gentle heroes


you left behind.


~Major Michael Davis O’Donnell

1 January 1970, RIP



About the Author

Joe Campolo Jr.

Joe Campolo, Jr. is an award winning author, poet and public speaker. A Vietnam War Veteran, Joe writes and speaks about the war, and is a Veteran's advocate. Some of Joe's stories are gripping, some humorous. Joe also writes about other experiences, many of which are also humorous. Joe enjoys fishing, traveling, writing and spending time with his family. Joe loves to hear from his readers, please send him a note on this page or the contact page! (and order one of Joe's popular books from the link on his author page)


  1. Major Michael O’Donnell’s poem is very well known among veterans. He was killed when I was in Vietnam in a battle I was indirectly involved with.
    Joe Campolo Jr

    1. I would love if you were able to tell me some of your stories if you would/could. I am writing a book about Vietnam, and I’d like it to include some real perspective from the men who were there. I know several Vets who won’t talk about it, and that’s fine if you can’t.
      Thank you for your service sir.

      1. I can talk about most of my experiences in Vietnam, Ryan, though some I will never be able to talk about. I’ll help you if I can, I’ll contact you via email.

  2. 12 years after I left Vietnam the PTSD I brought back and refused to acknowledge came crashing into my life. Major O’Donnell’s poem allowed me to look at what happened and to feel sadness and to cry. Thank You, Sir.

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