John Lewis Kotora

Company C 1/22 Infantry

4th Infantry Division

DOW 05/03/1970




MOS: 11B20 Infantryman

Note: E4 at loss. Posthumous Promotion as indicated


John Kotora was seriously wounded in action while at an aircraft Landing Zone
when his unit was engaged by a hostile force. He was evacuated to a military
medical facility where he later died.




SGT John L. Kotora's decorations















The following was written by Karen Kotora, John Kotora's cousin, on October 23, 2012


Mr. Harik,
I thought I would send you an email letting you know how much I enjoyed our phone call on Sat. a.m. (10-20).
Coincidently Sat. was one of my brother's birthdays who also served in Vietnam and now resides in Lexington, KY.
I called him Sat. evening to wish him a Happy Birthday and told him of our phone call. I remember my brother (Ed Kotora)
had visited John after he was injured and in the hospital. I asked him what he remembered of that time.

My aunt and uncle (John's parents) were not allowed to visit John in Vietnam since there was a war going on, so they
requested that my brother (located in Nha Trang pronounced Na Trang) and another cousin (Robert Chapko) who were also
serving in Vietnam be allowed to visit John. Ed was told when he arrived to visit John in Pleiku (pronounced Play Koo),
John had been transferred to Saigon. My brother's orders were for Pleiku so he thought he would have to return to Nha Trang
without seeing John. Ed went to the Red Cross in Pleiku and a woman there took his orders and scratched out Pleiku
and wrote in Saigon. Ed was amazed it was just that easy for her to make the change. She made a call to find out the time
of the next flight to Saigon. She had a Captain drive my brother by jeep to the airport, the Red Cross lady accompanied them.
When they reached the airport the plane was ready to leave and the Red Cross told them to get my brother on that plane.
The plane was full and they actually had to pull someone from the flight to get him on board. This just goes to show you
what kind of authority the Red Cross had. When my brother saw John, he was in really bad shape. He had been shot
in the back or side and his kidneys were not functioning so he was on dialysis, he was skin and bone and probably didn't weigh
over a hundred pounds. This was the only hospital nearby that could treat these particular injuries (Renal failure).
John did not recognize my brother.

My brother also mentioned that he saw the tribute written by Robert Wren on the Internet who said John had to walk
some distance to be treated. We were wondering if Wren has John confused with someone else that might have been injured at that time.

My brother was told that a helicopter was dropping John and others off in An Khe (On Kay) when they were fired upon.
John was wounded almost immediately after exiting. The Door Gunner actually jumped off the chopper and got John
back on board so they could take him for treatment. John was unable to stand let alone walk and if he had not been taken then
he would have died right away. John's heart stopped several times over the next days and weeks and had to be revived frequently.
He had surgery before he was able to be taken to Japan and the surgeon told my brother that John was in and out of consciousness
and was hard to understand when he did try to speak. One thing the surgeon did make out; John said at one time "just let me die."
John was in bad shape and could not be taken to Japan until his condition improved enough for him to fly. When they finally
took him to Japan he was the only person on that whole flight and usually they transferred as many as possible at a time
because it was so far away. He died in route to Japan. I guess over these weeks after he was injured my aunt and uncle had to get their
congressman in Ohio involved because they were having such difficulty on their own getting answers about his condition.

I have registered myself as a member on the 1-22 Infantry website and also Find A Grave to photograph monuments in my area.
So far it has been a most rewarding experience overall since our phone call on Sat. morning. I have also sent and received emails
from Mary the nurse who cared for John in Saigon. After all these years she still remembers speaking with my brother when he
visited John in Saigon. I also plan to write to Mr. Wren. to see if maybe he was mistaken with his recollection of John's injury.
My brother was told that John was shot in the back or side with an AK47 exiting the helicopter in hostile territory and
blew out his kidney's. You had said there were many injured that day. I am not trying to make a big deal of the situation but maybe
there is a family out there that would like to hear of their son, brother, father...being so brave and strong and have such a will
to try and survive this ordeal, and need to hear of it.

I talked with John's sister (Donna Baughman) the day after I talked with you. The information I had gathered in the matter
of this past weekend was very new info for her. She has no other photos of him or any of the decorations he acquired.
We all grew up in a small city in Ohio called Vermilion. Years later when John's parents (my aunt and uncle) health started to fail
they moved to Daytona Beach, Florida with their son Tom. My aunt and uncle had any photos that existed of John and
also his decorations or medals. When John's parents passed away Tom then acquired the photos and medals.
He and his sister have not spoken since then and she has no idea what happened to these items. Donna says she isn't
computer savvy so I plan to print out info from 1-22 Infantry and mail it to her. She has never seen the photo of John in Vietnam
that is posted, she only remembers the one in uniform. This is also the photo that hangs in Amvets in Vermilion which bears
John's name along with two other soldiers.

Sincerely-Karen Kotora

e-mail to Bob Harik oct 23, 2012




Maple Grove Cemetery
Erie County
Ohio, USA



Grave marker for John L. Kotora


Photo by Sharon Taylor from the Find A Grave website





Grave marker for John L. Kotora


Photo by William C. Lyons








Click on John Kotora's name below to visit his memorial page on the Virtual Wall website:

John L. Kotora


To view a tribute to John L. Kotora click on the following link:

Find A Grave


To view a tribute to John L. Kotora click on the following link:

Together We Served










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