For the ordinary American civilian, any member of our armed forces can be a hero. He can be any hometown boy, who came back from foreign lands having put himself in harm's way to serve our nation. But for our service members, the hero's hero is the corpsman, the medic, who puts himself in harm's way to jump out of a helicopter and run to the side of an injured American hero. The first thing they see is the injured man's eyes that plead, "please, don't let me die!" Its an awesome responsibility that you never forget, one old former corpsman told me.
Chief Hospital Corpsman Jim Donovan was one of those hero's heroes who served our nation for twenty four years. Born in Lexington Kentucky, his pure high pitched bluegrass twang came out loud and clear whenever he got perturbed, sounding like a country violin at a square dance. It was a beautiful sound of the Heartland that always made me think, "you can't get more American than Chief Jim.'
After his service to his nation, he became a church organist, and a piano and organ repairman and builder, and a loving spouse to his partner Dave. He was also a founder of American Veterans for Equal Rights, the nation's LGBT veteran's service organization. He served tirelessly for decades as a dedicated board member and as president multiple times.
His family background is pure Americana. His father, son of Irish immigrants, served in the US Army in WWI, and his eldest brother served in World War II; his dad was a Corporal in the US Army, and served in France. His brother served aboard minesweepers in the US Navy as a Machinists Mate Second Class (E5), acting Chief. Another brother served in the Korean War, also in the Navy, as a Seaman Boatswain's Mate. Like so many other young men, upon graduating from high school, it was the most natural thing for him to follow his brothers into the Navy. According to Jim, the "romance of the Navy" was something he'd dreamed about throughout his youth.