JON R. CAVAIANI U.S. Army, Vietnam

Medal of Honor with Ed Tracy



U.S. Army, Vietnam


Member Reception - 5:00pm cst

Presentation & Live Webcast - 6:00pm cst



For his first few months in Vietnam, Staff Sgt. Cavaiani felt like the war was passing him by. But when the war found him, Cavaiani was ready to prove his courage several times over.


Medal of Honor recipient Jon R. Cavaiani will appear at the Pritzker Military Library on Tuesday, June 29th for an interview with Ed Tracy on his life and service with the U.S. Army in Vietnam. This event is free and open to the public. The presentation will begin at 6:00 p.m., preceded by a reception for Library members at 5:00 p.m. It will also be webcast live and recorded for later broadcast on WYCC-TV/Channel 20.


Born in England, Cavaiani immigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of four. He became a naturalized citizen in 1968 and enlisted in the Army despite his 4-F status — Cavaiani was allergic to bee stings. He was recruited for Special Forces and sent to Vietnam in the summer of 1970; his experience on the family farm in California resulted in a relatively dull assignment as a veterinarian and agricultural advisor, but that would change a few months later.


Stationed at an isolated radio relay site near Khe Sanh, Cavaiani had charge of 13 Americans and 70 Vietnamese troops. When the site came under overwhelming enemy attack, Cavaiani directed the evacuation of most of the men, and remained behind with the rest when — for reasons unknown to them — the helicopters stopped coming. The men believed Cavaiani had been killed while covering their escape; in fact, he avoided capture by pretending to be dead, even as his bunker was set afire. After eleven days in the jungle, Cavaiani was captured nearly within reach of an American camp; after undergoing interrogation, he was imprisoned at the infamous Hanoi Hilton.


Cavaiani weighed 198 pounds when captured and 92 when released nearly two years later. Once he was back in shape, he asked to return to duty with the Special Forces. On December 12, 1974, Cavaiani received the Medal of Honor from President Ford. He retired in 1996, and went on to graduate with honors from a culinary arts program in California.


Please note: Seating for this event is limited, so reservations are strongly recommended. Call 312.587.0234 or email While we will attempt to seat all who wish to attend, we can only guarantee a place for attendees with a reservation. Reservations will be held until 15 minutes prior to the start of the program.


This event is eligible for 1.5 Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs) for education professionals in Illinois.



Pritzker Military Library

610 North Fairbanks Court, 2nd Floor

Chicago, IL 60611



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Marion J Chard
Proud Daughter of Walter (Monday) Poniedzialek
540th Engineer Combat Regiment, 2833rd Bn, H&S Co, 4th Platoon
There's "No Bridge Too Far"

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