WCU faculty member receives Distinguished Service Award from local American Legion

David Dorondo assisted an American Legion post in Cherokee with preparatory work for a museum that will commemorate the military service of members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

David Dorondo, associate professor in Western Carolina University’s Department of History, has been honored with an American Legion Distinguished Service Award, presented recently by the Steve Youngdeer Post 143 of Cherokee.

The American Legion is a wartime veterans’ organization formed after World War I, with a mission of service to members and advocating patriotism across the U.S.

Dorondo was recognized for research vital to the planned creation of a military history museum at Post 143 headquarters that would commemorate the service and sacrifice of the Eastern Band of Cherokee from World War I to the Persian Gulf War. He received the award during Veterans Day ceremonies in Cherokee on Friday, Nov. 11.

“It was a genuine pleasure for me to assist the post with this project,” said Dorondo. “When I was asked to do so by a long-time friend and one of the post’s most active members, retired Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Clyde Harrison, I immediately agreed. I wanted to do whatever I could to help recognize the sacrifices which Cherokee veterans have made – and continue to make – in service to our country. Along the way, I said several times that I was only doing my job as a military historian, so I was both surprised and honored to receive the award.”

Dorondo directed the preparation of text panels for displays. He also verified the authenticity of certain military artifacts and assisted Harrison and post Commander Lewis H. Harding, retired U.S. Navy, in the displays’ arrangements.

“As the son of a retired Air Force officer and as a trained military historian, Dr. Dorondo understands the important place of veterans in American society,” said Richard Starnes, dean of WCU’s College of Arts and Sciences. “His work to help tell the stories of Cherokee veterans is a testament to his dedication to those who have served our nation in uniform.”

Dorondo, a faculty member since 1987, earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Armstrong State College in 1980, master’s degree in modern German and European diplomatic history from the University of South Carolina in 1984, and doctorate in history from the University of Oxford in 1988. He is the author of “Riders of the Apocalypse: German Cavalry and Modern Warfare, 1870-1945.”