KERRY L. ORR
Patriot, Chapter 1919
Kerry Orr was born in 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland.
He grew up there, graduated from Patapsco High School with the Class
of 1966 and then enrolled in the University of Baltimore.
He initially had a student deferment from the draft, but gave it up
and almost immediately received his draft call.
He was inducted into the Army July 7, 1967.
Private Orr went through Basic Combat Training at Fort Bragg, North
Carolina. He scored high in
testing and was offered the opportunity to go to Officer Candidate School.
While taking the time allowed to consider his O.C.S. offer, all the
others with him in basic training received orders to proceed to Fort Gordon,
Georgia for advanced training as Military Policemen.
But then, when Kerry finally decided against O.C.S., to avoid the
added active duty commitment, he alone was ordered to Advanced Individual
Training in Infantry at Fort Polk, Louisiana.
During Infantry A.I.T. at Fort Polk, Kerry again had high scores and this
time, when offered training as an NCO, he accepted.
After graduating from the NCO Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia,
Sergeant Orr was ordered back to Fort Polk where he spent the next several
months training troops.
The troop buildup in Vietnam at that time was continuing at a rapid pace and
Kerry’s turn to join them came in November 1968.
He arrived on an American Airlines flight that came in to Cam Ranh
Bay where he spent the customary brief period in orientation and
in-processing before proceeding down through the chain, 25th
Infantry Division at Cu Chi and 2nd
Brigade at Dau Tieng, before finally arriving at his unit of assignment,
Company B, 1st
Infantry, then operating from Fire Base Malone.
For the next several months Sgt. Orr described his time in Company B as,
“A series of patrol operations
in which we would go out for five days at a time, set up ambush positions at
various places in the operational area, and conduct patrols before returning
back to base for a brief period before going out and doing it again. Life on
the bases felt safe, at Cu Chi, Dau Tieng and even at Fire Base Malone, you
lived with a sense of security, but there was danger during the missions out
in the operational area and everyone had a heightened awareness of the
situation constant at all times.”
Kerry was wounded February 11, 1969, about three months after his
arrival in the company.
A defoliation operation was taking place along the river north of Firebase
Malone. Thick vegetation lined
the river banks and boats had been spraying it with Agent Orange while
Company B provided security.
The boats picked up the Infantrymen at the base in the morning and returned
them there after the day’s work up the river spraying defoliant.
On the third day of the operation the boats were ambushed when coming
back to base camp at the end of the day and Kerry Orr was wounded in the
enemy’s initial burst of fire.
The force responded by turning their boats into the bank and attempting to
engage, but the ambush element had broken contact and withdrawn.
Kerry had been struck in the head.
A shell fragment from an RPG round hit and knocked his helmet off,
leaving him with a concussion and a minor but profusely bleeding head wound.
A medevac helicopter was called in to the site and it took Kerry out.
After treatment in the 23rd
Evac Hospital for about two weeks he returned to duty in his unit.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism for his actions on March
In July 1969, his term of service being up, Kerry rotated back to the United
States, was discharged at Oakland, California, and returned to his parental
home in Baltimore. After a month back home he followed his father’s advice
and took employment with Baltimore Paint and Chemical Corporation.
In December 1969 he transferred to Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1974 he went to work for Control Data Corporation in computer
sales. At that time CDC
manufactured the largest main frame computers in existence and Kerry was
with them for twelve years. In
1988 he began a twenty-five year career with Zenitel USA as a Regional Sales
Manager in the Southeast.
Later, he became National Sales Manager for the Zenitel Philips product
line. In 1997 he was
promoted to Regional Vice President, then Vice President of Sales in 2005.
Achievements during his time with Zenitel included winning the top
sales award nine out of twelve times he was eligible, and he was “Salesman
to the World” two times during his tenure.
Kerry retired from Zenitel in July 2012.
While all that had been happening, in 1995 Kerry married Monika, a girl from
Kansas City who agreed to join him in Atlanta, but the deal was that when
the time came for them to retire, she got to pick where they would live.
She picked here. So,
they had a house built in Lakeway and moved into it in 2009.
While in Atlanta, Kerry was a member of the Atlanta Vietnam Veterans
Business Association and was active in their work of establishing memorials
for local area soldiers who had died in Vietnam and in organizing and
conducting dedication ceremonies honoring those of our war dead.
In the brief time since his arrival in Texas, Kerry has been active
with the Vietnam Veterans of America, especially in supporting the now
nearly complete “Build the Monument” project.
He joined as a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart
upon his arrival here, and this month Chapter 1919 proudly salutes Patriot
SGT Kerry L. Orr:
For heroism in connection with military operations
against a hostile force:
Sergeant Orr distinguished himself by heroic actions
on 24 March 1969, while serving as a squad leader with Company B, 1st
Battalion, 27th Infantry in the Republic of Vietnam.
While acting as a blocking force outside a known
Viet Cong village, Company B came under an intensive barrage of enemy fire.
Seeing that one of his men had been wounded,
Sergeant Orr, with complete disregard for his own safety, exposed himself to
concentrated hostile fire as he maneuvered forward to his injured comrade.
After emergency first aid had been administered to
the injured man, Sergeant Orr evacuated his comrade to a safe area.
His valorous actions were responsible for saving a
Sergeant Orr’s personal bravery, aggressiveness, and devotion
to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service
and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division,
and the United States Army.