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Doc Powell — a war hero, officially

By Todd Franko (Contact)


Published January 17, 2010

Last August was 41 years to the day that Youngstowner Richard "Doc" Powell died on a Vietnam battlefield.

His last moments were Hollywood-like, only they were real and he would not live for another movie.

Here is how we reported his tale last August:

Six marines died in that battle, and about two dozen others were injured.

“I was a member of his squad. I was with him the day he died,” George Adams said.

He saw what Powell was doing and realized the risk.

“I wanted to stop him because I knew he was going to get killed. I told him, ‘Don’t do it.’ He just took off and did it,” Adams recalled.

Jeff Lannan of Newark, Ohio, the platoon squad leader, was there as well.

Lannan said he took to Powell right away because they were both from Ohio and he saw Doc as a “homeboy.”

“He was just a very, very nice fellow,” Lannan said.

“We became good friends,” Lannan said, adding that the images of what happened that day still haunt him.

“He was helping everybody, exposing himself. It cost him his life,” Lannan said.

Powell ignored calls from others to return to safety. Even after he was shot in the arm, he was tying a guy’s bandage using one arm and his teeth, Lannan said.

Lannan said he reached Powell moments after the medic suffered a fatal head wound.

“Doc died in my arms. He was trying to tell me something. He couldn’t get it out. That haunts me to this day,” he said.

 That was August when Adams, Lannan and others gathered at Lake Park Cemetery to give Powell the official military gravestone he earned and deserved. That took 41 years.

It only took one more year for Powell to get a top Ohio military honor.

Adams reported this week that Powell has been accepted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame of Valor. The ceremony will be May 7 in Columbus. Adams reports, too, that there is work to rename part of a highway in the Youngstown area for Powell.

We'll keep you posted.

Here are our Powell stories to read:

War buddies, locals give Doc grave distinction he earned

War hero's grave honors

Choices made -- by us or for us -- forever change our future steps


 

 


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