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Monday, 24 November 2014 00:00

Colonel Donald "Don" Dearl Ezell

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Colonel Donald "Don" Dearl Ezell

Biography

 

Col Donald "Don" Ezell

 

Don Ezell was born on April 27, 1922 in Jena, Louisiana. He had two older brothers, Jeff and Beeky. He also had a twin brother named Dee. After growing up in Wink Texas and graduating from high school, Dee and Don both received scholarships to play football at TCU. Dee was a guard and Don was a halfback.

In March of 1942, both brothers joined the Marine Corps in the Officers program. They stayed in school until they got their degree. After Paris Island boot camp, Don reported to OCA (Officers Candidate Applicant) at Camp Lejeune. Then in 1944 he attended Officer Candidate School in Quantico where he received his officer's commission. Lt Ezell was originally assigned to the 6th Marine division but was transferred to Marine Wing Service Squadron at El Toro because he had put in for flight training.

In the spring of 1945, Lt Ezell was assigned to Air FMF Pac in Hawaii. His first operation was an aerial observer in the battle of Okinawa – the largest amphibious assault in history. After the war ended, Lt Ezell returned home. He turned down a regular commission for captain so he could go back to TCU and earn his masters degree. However, he remained in the Marine Corps Reserve.

In 1950, Lt Ezell was called up to go to Korea with the 1st Marine division. He ended up as a machine gun platoon leader and had to battle his way out of the Chosin Reservoir.

After Korea, Captain Ezell was on sea duty off the coast of Vietnam. One day he received orders to report to the Commanding General of the French forces in Vietnam. The General wanted the U.S. to bring him supplies and ammo at a place called Dien Bien Phu. When Captain Ezell reported to the General, he was in an old fort. Col Ezell was briefed by the General who showed him where the French forces were located throughout the valley. Captain Ezell asked who had the high ground in which the General replied "no one, that's all jungle up there. No one can get through that." Famous last words! The Viet Cong came through those jungles with cannons and bore-sited the French in the trenches below. The rest is history. Captain Ezell was sent there for one reason only...to find out if we would help the French. His superiors wanted to know "who's going to win?" Captain Ezell sent word out in code. If the French were going to win he was to say "the French are warriors." If the French were going to lose he was to say "the French are lovers." The Captain's message was "the French are lovers." This message went all the way up to President Eisenhower and so we didn't help the French at Dien Bien Phu. And as we all know, Ho Chi Minh defeated the French and that ended the reign of French colonialism in Vietnam.

After the Dien Bien Phu defeat, Captain Ezell went to Fort Sill for artillery training. There was a mix up in orders and Captain Ezell received the orders that his twin brother Dee was supposed to get...that's how he ended up in artillery!

Captain Ezell was promoted to Major and was transferred to Duke University where he taught military science and instructed in the ROTC program. Next he went to Okinawa for a year to command the 2nd Bn 12th Marines – an artillery regiment. Washington DC was the next stop as a Management Engineer. After DC, Major Ezell spent three years in Taiwan helping the Chinese nationalists build their 2nd Chinese Marine Division (they already had a 1st).

In 1967, Lt. Col. Ezell was promoted to Col. and was ordered to take command of the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment in Vietnam. His area of responsibility went from just below DaNang all the way up to the DMZ. He received the Purple Heart while in Vietnam from wounds inflicted by a rocket attack. After two tours in Vietnam, he left in March of 1970.

After Vietnam, Col Ezell was assigned to the Pentagon where he was the Director of Public Affairs for the military. In 1973 he retired from the Marine Corps after 30 years of service.
During his career, Col Ezell received 27 battle decorations and seven battle stars including the Purple Heart.

Col. Ezell was an outstanding Marine Officer. His record, his lasting impression he left on family, friends and his Marine Corps brothers will always speak to his honor, courage, commitment, his love of God, family, country, and the Corps.

Col. Don D. Ezell died on July 10, 2010 and was buried with full military honors. He now rests at Greenwood Memorial Park in Fort Worth, Texas beside his twin brother Dee.
Col Ezell's nieces donated more than 450 plus military books that were left in his estate to the Longhorn Detachment. We now have the opportunity to read the same books that Col. Ezell read in the newly dedicated Col. Don D. Ezell library.

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