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Inspirational mother, wife, widow to showcase resilience at event

  • Published
  • By Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- This year’s Air Force Reserve Command Women’s History Month guest speaker is an inspirational example of resiliency, perseverance and devotion.

Norma Shinno Irving Donlon, a Soldier’s widow, wife and mother, has devoted her life to advocating for Soldiers and their families while also standing up for people working Japanese-American redress issues.

Donlon, a mother of five and grandmother of six, is passionate about family, faith and freedom. She is an American of Japanese ancestry who has faced adversity her entire life. She was born in the Camp Jerome War Relocation Center in Denson, Arkansas, during World War II. She lost her hearing at the age of 7, but learned to read lips in order to continue her education. Years later, she married an Army Ranger who was killed in action in Vietnam when she was 22. She later married now-retired Col. Roger Donlon, the first solider in the Vietnam War to be a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

As a Soldier’s wife, Donlon moved 16 times in 20 years, including three overseas assignments to Thailand, Panama and Japan. While overseas, she worked with an abandoned children’s ward in Bangkok and served as the chairperson of the Board of Governors for the Ft. Gulick Panama Preschool.

She has held every position in the Cub Scouts from den mother to chairman of the pack. All of her sons achieved the Arrow of Light Award, the highest in Cub Scouting.

In 1988, she was awarded the Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal for her work as a consummate and caring community advocate, active with charitable, service and civic endeavors throughout Army communities worldwide.

Since her husband’s retirement from the Army, Donlon has served as the Kansas state representative for Japanese-American redress issues and the Kansas contact for the Japanese-American Historical Society. She frequently gives speeches seeking to educate people on the history of Americans of Japanese ancestry.

She has also served as president, first vice president, second vice president and secretary of the Whittier Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in Kansas. For representing the state of Kansas, the Donlons were recognized with the American Century Award in 2000 presented by the Washington Times Foundation.

All internal employees of AFRC can watch this live women’s history event using the CVR Teams link sent to their government e-mail. The virtual event starts at 1 p.m. on March 31.