Reunited 45 years after the war, Yeaw and Minh relived their harrowing
confrontation with North Vietnamese guerrillas during interviews for a
documentary film being made on the firefight.
At the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Yeaw recounts
the firefight that he and combat interpreter, Nguyen Hoang Minh,
barely survived. John Donovan, right, returned to Vietnam in 2008 and
reconnected with the interpreter.
Attending the 2013 event at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum were:
seated, from left, Yeaw and former SEAL Capt. Rick Woolard; and standing,
from left, Donovan, SEAL museum executive director Rick Kaiser, a World
War II veteran and Robert “Pete” Peterson, Yeaw’s 7th Platoon commander.
STELLAR YEARS OF SERVICE
The rest of Ron’s career is an impressive legacy of service.
He became Joint Special Operations Command chief of
staff at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and commanding officer
of both SEAL Team 6 and UDT 21. At the Pentagon, he served
on the Special Operations staffs of the Secretary of Defense
and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Academically, his credentials are no less inspiring. He attended
the Navy War College and received a master’s degree
in national security affairs from the Navy Postgraduate
School. During his career he was awarded 45 medals and ribbons
including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Navy
Legion of Merit, nine individual commendation medals with
the Combat V for valor, including four Bronze Stars and the
In retirement, Ron served as director of ambassador relations
for Project Lifesaver. The nonprofit organization, with
Florida headquarters in Port St. Lucie, trains and equips
public safety departments nationwide with electronic radio
searching capabilities to locate persons with cognitive disorders
who’ve gone missing.
A young SEAL on
his first deployment
in Vietnam was living
out his dream.
He also worked for the G4S Professional Armed Security
Corp. for 13 years.
Peterson didn’t see Ron again for several years after that
fateful 1968 night.
“I started to apologize for getting him shot up,” Peterson
said. “But he interrupted me, saying ‘BS Pete, that was the
night I became a SEAL.’ That attitude was what earned Ron
the respect of his teammates throughout his career.” E
Mary Ann Koenig is a writer and filmmaker who
directed, wrote and co-produced the award-winning
documentary feature film, A Bond Unbroken. She
co-authored the memoir Cold War Navy SEAL and
is a features contributor for Indian River Magazine
as well as Space Coast Living. She holds a BA in
history from London Metropolitan University and a
master’s degree from Columbia University.
28 Port St. Lucie Magazine