761st Tank Battalion and Allied Veterans Association

Aaron Dotson in Saigon, Vietnam, February 1969

APO 96307

AVBJ CD-FA 12, October 1969

SUBJECT: Recommendation for Legion of Merit

THRU: Commanding Officer
3D Field Hospital
APO 96307

Commanding Officer
68th Medical Group
APO 96491

TO: Commanding Officer
44th Medical Brigade
APO 96384

1. Request the following named individual be awarded the Legion of Merit.
a) Name: Dotson, Aaron M.
b) Rank: Major
c) SN: 02296659, SSN: XXXXXXXXX
d) Organization: 3D Field Hospital, APO 96307
e) Duty position: Social Work Officer
f) Period covered: 6, January 69 – 6 January 70
g) DEROS: 6 January 1970
2. The Following additional information is furnished:
a) Individual has no record of Article 15’s
b) The various provisions of AR 600-31 are not pending.
c) Information of this recommendation has been verified against the individual’s 201 file.
3. Justification for Recommendation:
a) For meritorious service not involving participation in aerial flight in support of military operations against an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam.
b) Major Dotson’s awarding period covers 6 January 69 through 6 January 70. During this time he performed his duties in an outstanding manner. His job required a keen professional awareness, insight, and clinical experience of the combat and non-combat soldier’s problems. His dedication and commitment to helping the soldiers and/or their Commanders, who needed his help or consultation involved working very long office hours and traveling beyond the Saigon area. His responsibility as a Social Work Officer was never taken lightly. Because of this responsibility he often has to make policy decisions and coordinate with the Commanding Officer, American Red Cross, Chaplain, JAG, IG, Provost Marshall, and civilian welfare agencies in the Saigon area (such as: International Social Service, Caritas Orphanage). These decisions were always rendered invariably with professionalism, clarity, as well as a common sense approach, always tempered by good judgement and a keen concern for the best interest of the service and the individual soldier, sailor, or civilian whom he worked with. His particular dealings with the Saigon branch of the International Social Service, a civilian agency, were marked by a spirit of cooperation and his honest problem solving approach established warm rapport that has earned 3D Field Hospital respect and praise.
c) The varied psychiatric problems which could not be resolved or cured by a one-time visit contributed to a very large out-patient, daily work load, which did not include the normal daily traffic of patients to be seen. This work was compounded when he operated the Mental Hygiene Clinic without a psychiatrist for a four (4) month period (April 69 – July 69). Major Dotson’s day ended only when the last individual left his office and administrative reports were completed.
d) Specific areas of achievement which are directly traceable to his personal initiative and persistant pursuit include the following:
1) Administration: As the administrative officer for the Mental Hygiene Clinic, Major Dotson set up filing and administrative procedures which greatly smoothed operation of the clinic; in addition, he demonstrated resourcefulness and tact in working with a psychiatric staff relatively new to the Army, but who were able to benefit from years of Army experience and constantly creative ideas.
2) Therapy with Militants: Major Dotson’s untiring efforts were focused on a particular group of character and behavior type of enlisted personnel as out-patients. These unique individuals were “black militants who had hostile attitudes toward command and Caucasians in general”. Consistant, painstaking hard work with them individually and in groups proved to be very successful in modifying their attitudes and job performance. Some of his useful findings were shared with the 93rd Evacuation Hospital Psychiatric Staff, who have seen many of the same type soldiers.
3) Race Relations and Communication: During the month of April his alert, calm, and professional efforts were instrumental in preventing a race riot in the making at a military installation located near the Saigon area. This was done by winning the respect and confidence of key individuals who had intimate knowledge of what was to transpire. Valuable information was shared with this headquarters, Command, and the CID which resulted in improved communication between the groups involved and an education for all concerned.
4) Community Social Work: While assuming the demanding and time consuming duties aforementioned, Major Dotson also found time for Community Social Work projects in Saigon when called upon by social agencies who request his advice and guidance in certain areas. This was particularly evident during the months of July and August of this year, when Major Dotson was very helpful to the Australian Social Welfare Advisor of Vietnamese Orphanages; and when the representative of the Saigon Institute for International Solidarity had a conference at the Mental Hygiene Clinic with Major Dotson. He helped them in developing a program centered around providing shelter, rehabilitation, and education for hundreds of orphan Vietnamese boys in the Saigon area between the ages of 7 ad 16. Major Dotson was able to appeal to other sources who were of invaluable help to this program.
5) Finding Day Care Facilities: Major Dotson has been helpful in assisting many young Vietnamese women in finding day care or baby-sitting facilities for their child or children who were fathered by American military and civilian personnel. Such help enabled the women to avoid the profession of prostitution by finding legitimate, respectable jobs; even though the pay was often modest. In this way the mother was able to keep her child and not abandon it.
6) American-Vietnamese Interaction: The Saigon ISS was desperate when they sought Major Dotson’s assistance in determining ways of facilitation communication to the soldiers in the field and those in support units, who had problems requiring the International Social Service’s intervention in getting information, usually for various agencies in the United States, from the soldier. Major Dotson established himself as the liaison between the ISS and the sixteen (16) social work officers located throughout Vietnam. As a result, all parties involved were greatly benefited by the fast, efficient method with which problems were handled.
e) In summation, I am convinced that Major Dotson has rendered meritorious service through the exercise of rare qualities of leadership, dedication, and devotion to duty to the degree which would merit this recommended award of the Legion of Merit.

David Galicia


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