John Russ McDonald
June 20, 1931 – September 3, 2009
by Erik Lisk
The boots are shined, the weapon is clean, and the bayonet gleams. It’s the helmet and tags with your name that is the biggest change.
As a warrior, you are given the highest honor, serving with those from your past.
They greet you with open arms as they escort you from the field.
Wounds are healed; pain is gone, suffering no more.
You have finished your job here above and beyond.
Now it’s your turn to watch and give comfort and love from above.
When it’s my time I look forward to seeing you again,
standing tall and helping welcome our fellow Screaming Eagles in.
McDonald, John Russell, age 78, surrounded by family, passed away September 3, 2009 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Murfreesboro, TN after a hard-fought battle with cancer. He was a retired Command Sgt. Major with the United States Army, last residing in Ashland City, TN. He was preceded in death by his father and mother Donald K. and Mabel McDonald of Oklahoma He is survived by his wife Faye Lockert McDonald; daughters Heather Beal (Robby), Sharon Kuttler (Kenneth), Kathy Witcher; sons Ricky Young, Chris Young (Lisa), Tony Young; he leaves 10 grandchildren. Known to many of his troops at “Top” for “Top Sgt.”, he was born in Shawnee, OK and enlisted in September of 1949. Russ served in two tours in Korea from 1950-51 with the Seventh Infantry Division, and in 1952-53 with the 45th Infantry Division. In 1956, he served as advisor/instructor to the German First Mountain Division. He served three tours in Vietnam. In 1963-64, he was advisor to the 32nd Ranger Battalion, ARVN, South Vietnamese “Black Tigers.” In 1965-66, he went on the “Boat” and was the First Sergeant with the 1/327th Rangers. In 1967-68, he returned to Vietnam with the 3/506 Airborne Infantry. Some of his service decorations included:
Vietnamese Service Medal with six Campaign Stars, Bronze Star for Valor with two Oak Leafs, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal for Valor with on Oak Leaf, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart with two Oak Leafs, Korean Service Medal with six Campaign Stars, Master Parachutist Wings, VN Parachutist Wings, VN Ranger Badge, cm with Star (2nd Award), Presidential Unit Citation, Valorous Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, Korean Presidential Citation (Several), VN Gallantry Cross with Palms (Several), Civic Action Honor Medal from VN Government, Civic Actions Honor Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Member of the 327th Infantry Regiment (DMOR). In 1970 he went to serve as Sergeant Major of the ROTC detachment at Texas A&M University until 1973. While there, he sent 175 cadets through jump school at Fort Benning, 13 through Ranger school, 16 through Jump Master School. He started the Rudders Rangers while at Texas A&M, named after General Earl Rudder, who led the 2nd Ranger Battalion during the Normandy invasion. After retiring from the army, he also served as Chief of Police at Texas A&M. In 2002, he was awarded “Ranger of the Year” and inducted as a “Distinguished Member of the 327th Infantry Regiment (DMOR).” He participated for years in the “Cobra Company” reunion, originally held in Manassas, VA and now held in Crossville, TN. Russ loved all his “Troops” as well as the young troopers now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. He and wife, Faye, have worked tirelessly in sending packages, emails, and helping with soldiers’ personal problems at home. Faye, known as “First Skirt,” has also been inducted as an honorary Distinguished Member of the 327th Infantry Regiment. Together they have continued to serve through the “America Supporting Americans” Organization and were instrumental in Ashland City adopting “C Company” 1/327th while deployed in Iraq. Because of their efforts, other cities have adopted other companies. Author Tommie Willard put it well in an article he wrote for National Magazine when he said, “CSM John Russell ‘Top’ McDonald was a leader who inspired, lead to victory, and turned frightened kids into fighting machines.” He was a soldier’s soldier. Honorary Pallbearers are all former and present members of Cobra Company.
Click on any photo to see enlargement
There were many paying their respects to CSM “Top” McDonald, these photos were but a few. Photos contributed by Erick Miller, ABU