AAAA ~ Uncle Spike on left SMAJ Samuel Hadley in center

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Robert Alfred Dondero ~Command Sergeant Major ~ United...


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' Uncle Spike'

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He was the oldest of seven children born to Alfred and Hazel Dondero.There were five boys and two girls. A wonderful son, brother, step-father and uncle .

He joined the Army at a very young age and spent  22 years of his too short life in service of our country. He didn't marry until his later years. He was stationed in The Hague in 1958-59. That is where he met and became good friends with Ted and Marie Doan, who introduced him to Helen Davis. The rest is history.

 Aunt Helen lost her will to go on and left us less than a year after he did. It has been said that she died from a broken heart. She is buried beside him at Arlington National Cemetary.

"The last time we saw him was February 14, 1969. He and my Aunt Helen arrived at our home armed with gifts and jelly filled doughnuts before leaving for Vietnam. Dad was in Vietnam already, this was Uncle Spikes 3rd tour of duty. His visits, being a career military man, were very few and far between ...but always memorable.


Sergeant Major Sam Hadley said of him:

"'Vietnam was a hot, humid place, and it was a job to keep the jungle uniform looking neat, but your uncle changed uniforms twice a day. He was our senior NCO and always set an example for the rest of us. God, how I admired that man.  I miss him and will never forget him. In my 30 years in the Army, I never met a more perfect gentleman and soldier'"


At the time of his death he was visiting one of his subordinate MACV Teams in Quang Duc Province. While they were visiting, the team started receiving incoming rockets.The team made a dash for the helicopter to get airborne and out of there. They all made it except for my uncle. I was told that a rocket landed in front of him as he was running.  The upward blast and shrapnel caught him at about his waist line.

  • 6 Nov 1969

Robert Alfred Dondero-Command Sergeant Major, United States Army~A-K-A ' Uncle Spike'

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AAAA ~ Uncle Spike on left SMAJ Samuel Hadley in center

This picture was taken not long before he was killed. On the left is Sergeant Major Robert A. Dondero, known to us as Uncle Spike. Sergeant Major Samuel Hadley is in the center, his good friend. Uncle Spike was presenting a painting of the first moon landing to Hadley and their NCO club manager. The painting was done by a Vietnamese artist.

  • Vietnam
  • November, 1969

Helen Davis Dondero

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Helen Davis Publicity Shot 1958-1959
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Aunt Helen was a friend of Ted Doan's wife, Marie. She was a singer with a German orchestra playing in Holland.  Aunt Helen was Scottish.

Ted and Marie Doan were good friends with Uncle Spike ( Bob ) in The Hague, Holland in the late 50's. The three of them used to frequent the club where Aunt Helen sang. (she wasn't Aunt Helen at this time) Ted and Marie introduced the two of them and they (Bob and Helen) hit it off very well. The four of them became inseperable while in Holland. Before long  one of them was stationed back to the States before the other. The Doan's were in Cambridge when Aunt Helen asked  if she and her daughter, Jennifer could come for a visit. She eventually moved near where Uncle Spike was stationed and they lost touch with the Doan's.


  • The Hague -Holland & USA
  • 1950's and 60's

Bob & Helen

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These are photographs of Uncle Spike (Bob Dondero) and Aunt Helen (Helen Davis) when they were first dating. Ted and Marie Doan very graciously passed these on to us.

  • The Hague ~ Holland
  • 1958-1959

Contributor: Dondero
Created: April 3, 2008 · Modified: September 4, 2014

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