American Legion Post 801 names Pristash 'Veteran of the Year'

Kent Weeklies
David J. Pristash

The Nordonia Hills American Legion Post #801 has named Post Commander David J. Pristash 2020 Veteran of the Year.

In 1965 David J.  Pristash earned a BA in Economics at Ohio University. After graduating from Ohio University he joined the Army in November of that year, with the guarantee that he would be enrolled in Officer Candidate School.

By September, 1967 he was assigned to the 5th Special Forces group as the Executive Officer in Bu Dap, on the Cambodian border, near the Ho Chi Minh trail.

“We were involved in battles from day one," he said. "The first time you get shot at it’s a little scary.”

One night they started to get mortared and shelled.

“It pretty well wiped out everything above ground. I was on a radio and really don’t know how, but the only thing I can think of is some shrapnel or sparks hit the ammo dump next to the position I was in. It was like a huge fireball blast that came through my position and pretty much burned off everything I was wearing. I got out of the pit and put dirt on me to put out the fire.”

When he was recovering in the hospital at Ft. Sam Houston, Texas, he was not given pain killers for fear of addiction.

“You had to grin and bear it," he said.

To this day he can’t straighten either of his arms. His lungs were also damaged from breathing in fire.

Some, but not all, of the decorations he was awarded include the Combat Infantryman's Badge, Purple Heart, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star, Vietnam Service Medal with one campaign star, Meritorious Unit Citation and Parachutist badge.

Post-Vietnam Pristash entered the world of business where he operated several companies. Additionally he earned an EMBA and graduated from the General Electric Management Program.  He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and holds eight issued patents. Retired now, he writes on economics and political affairs (David

Currently, as Commander of Post 801, he has taken a leading role in the creation and development of the Nordonia Hills Veterans Park since its inception ( He recently gained a 501c3 Charity designation for the Macedonia Veterans Park Foundation ( The park is located on State Route 82 and South Bedford Road.

Pristash and his wife Darlene (Fill) were married at Ft. Benning, Ga. 54 years ago. They are parents of Tanya and David, Brecksville,  Nicole, Boston and Michelle, Berea. They have been blessed with eight grandchildren.