DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The Dayton Dragons are honoring a veteran every month of their season with the CareSource Veteran Salute”, honoring selfless service to their country.
For nearly half a century Ed Damron has been sacrificing himself for others and their military service and he nearly paid the ultimate sacrifice in Southeast Asia.
Vietnam veteran Ed Damron said, “Listen, I knew this was not going to be good on the flightline that morning. Anytime you have a chaplain come in and pray for you, it’s not going to be a good day.”
September 16, 1971. A day that changed the Vietnam war. A day that changed Ed Damron’s life. A day he thought his life was over.
Damron said, “We had missions that were prioritized. That mission that day was to find a basecamp and we found it, not the way I wanted to. We were shot down and crashed right in the middle of it. I had them closer than you are to me right now.”
Damron, his helicopter pilot and his door gunner, who were both wounded and incapacitated, were shot down and stranded right in the middle of what turned out to be a camp with 5,000 enemy troops. There was no help in sight. They were all alone.
When asked “Over those three and a half hours, at what point did you think you might make it out alive?” Damron said, “Never.”
But they did. Damron stabilized the pilot’s wounds, saving his life, then held off the enemy for over three hours until help arrived. All three men survived because of Sergeant Damron. To this day, he deflects the praise, saying it was divine intervention.
“This ray of light shined down on us. I thought i was dying because I didn’t know what was happening here. I wasn’t planning on going to heaven that day, believe me,” Damron said.
Damron was shot in his face and leg, badly injured his back and his eardrums were blown out by enemy mortar fire. He was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for incredible bravery, courage and service anyone would call heroic, anyone except him.
“Do you feel like a hero?” he was asked. “Not really. I’m just me, man,” Damron said. “I never looked for medals.”
Damron was awarded the Purple Heart for that fateful day. Now he’s the Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in Ohio, still serving others and their sacrifice. Yet to this day, September 16th, 1971 comes to mind, and he has come to terms with it.
When asked if he would do it all over again Damron said, “Ah, yeah, man.”