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Donald Francis Schnably

West Virginia
Veterans Memorial


Donald Francis Schnably

Donald Francis Schnably was born June 24, 1948, in Elkins, West Virginia, the son of Lester and Caroline Wolf Schnably. Donald had a brother and a sister.

Donald attended Philip Barbour High School where he was a member of the Latin Club, serving as president. He graduated with the class of 1966. He attended Greenbrier Military Academy and was a member of the Baptist Church at Weston and the Barbour County 4-H Club.
Donald Francis Schnably
Donald Francis Schnably, 1966
Philip Barbour High School yearbook

Entering the Army on January 15, 1967, he received basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Donald graduated from the Green Beret Special Forces School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after which he completed airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Prior to leaving for Vietnam he was sent to Panama where he received training at an extended Jungle Warfare School, graduating with honors.

Lt. Donald Schnably left for Vietnam on December 6, 1968. He was a member of the 5th Special Forces Group located at the Green Beret Camp in Duc Lap, South Vietnam. He was awarded a Bronze Star for heroism displayed during ground operations against hostile Vietnamese forces on March 26, 1969. Lt. Schnably was serving as a senior advisor to a Camp Strike Force company on a search and clear mission deep in hostile territory when they initiated contact with two platoons of North Vietnamese soldiers. Taking command of the situation, Lt. Schnably led his company in a flanking action against the enemy force and rendered first aid to his wounded personnel, carrying one of the wounded to safety while under intense enemy fire. When helicopter gunships and tactical air support arrived, he directed fire upon enemy positions. After reinforcements arrived, Lt. Schnably led a counter attack which resulted in the withdrawal of North Vietnamese forces.

Less than six months later, on the evening of December 1, 1969, Lt. Donald F. Schnably was killed in action. That evening, North Vietnamese forces unleashed a mortar attack against the Duc Lap Special forces camp in which was located an 81-millimeter mortar pit that had been the target of previous enemy attacks. Assuming the enemy had zeroed in on the pit, Lt. Schnably rushed to the area to direct return fire on suspected enemy positions. As the mortar tube was set and the first round was being readied for launching, two enemy rounds hit the area, mortally wounding Lt. Schnably. For his actions, Lt. Schnably was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, which was presented to his widow Karen Poe Schnably in June 1970 in the ROTC Office at West Virginia University.

The body of Lt. Donald F. Schnably was returned to the United States and was buried in Belington Fraternal Cemetery. His is memorialized on panel 15w line 14 of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D. C.


West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history.

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