Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Rob McSorley, a Ranger who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Rob McSorley, a Ranger who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Originally from Westmount, Quebec, in Canada, Rob McSorley and his family later moved to Vancouver in British Columbia. While attending Templeton Secondary School, McSorley considered joining the U.S. military and deploying during the Vietnam War.

“I think he wanted adventure, which he could get out of the U.S. military as opposed to the Canadian military,” his sister June-Ann Davies later stated in 2015.

According to some estimates, at least 12,000 Canadians served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Since McSorley was under 18 and not an American citizen, he needed his family’s permission to enlist. Although his parents were against him going, they eventually agreed to sign the forms. McSorley then crossed the border to Blaine, Washington, to enlist.

After basic and Ranger training, McSorley immediately deployed to Vietnam. He served as part of the 101st Airborne Division stationed in Quang Tri province. While he was in Vietnam, McSorley met Bruce Bowland, a fellow Ranger from Florida, who became his close friend.

“Rob told me he was a Canadian and he enlisted in the American Army so that he could go to Vietnam,” Bowland later recalled. “He was a gung-ho guy…a great man.”

Bowland later explained that their company mainly focused on military intelligence.

“We would sit on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, waiting and watching for Viet Cong troop movement coming down the Ashu Valley from North Vietnam,” said Bowland. “The results of our observations would determine if the division commander would order an air strike by the B-52 bombers,” he explained in a 2004 article.

On April 8, 1970, McSorley volunteered to lead the company on a mission in Ashu Valley. Bowland protested since as assistant team leader, he was supposed to lead, but McSorley, who had more experience, insisted. During the mission, the company came upon a group of North Vietnamese soldiers. McSorley tried to fire his weapon, but it jammed, and the enemy killed him.

“Without a doubt, McSorley saved my life on that mission,” Bowland remembered. “He was killed just 20 feet in front of me and I should have been walking point that day.”

McSorley’s remains were brought back to Canada, and he was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park near Vancouver. McSorley received a Purple Heart, Vietnam Service Medal and Ranger Tab during his service.

“Even though we didn’t meet face-to-face, I feel I know him as a man,” said Don Davies, McSorley’s brother-in-law. “He did what he thought was the right thing to do, and he didn’t want to be a bystander. And that’s Rob and everything I’ve heard about him.”

We honor his service.


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

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It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.


Contributors

Writer: Sarah Concepcion

Editors: Merrit Pope and Julia Pack

Fact checker: Giacomo Ferrari

Graphic artist: Brittany Gorski

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Air Forces Veteran Lynn Ashley, who served with the 8th Air Force in New Mexico for three years.#VeteranOfTheDay Army Veteran Lynn Ashley
During Black History Month, today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran Wesley A. Brown, the first African American graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.#VeteranOfTheDay Navy Veteran Wesley A. Brown

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