Sergeant David C. Dolby, USA (May 21, 1966)

David Charles Dolby was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania on May 14, 1946. He entered the United States Army at age 18, and fifty years ago today on May 21, 1966, he was a Specialist 4 in Company B, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) fighting in Vietnam.

Dolby’s battalion was known as the “Jumping Mustangs”, but in Vietnam they were carried into battle mainly by helicopter. On May 20, 1966, the battalion’s efforts began in Operation Crazy Horse against the 2nd Viet Cong Regiment in Binh Dinh province.

During the fighting on May 21, Dolby single-handedly kept his unit together after his platoon leader was wounded. He saved many of his wounded comrades, and kept up the fight, often alone.

From Medal of Honor Citations for the Vietnam War (A-L):

Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); Vietnam Service ribbon (background)
Medal of Honor ribbon (foreground); Vietnam Service ribbon (background)
David C. Dolby (US Army photo)

DOLBY, DAVID CHARLES

Rank and Organization: Sergeant (then Sp4c.), U.S. Army, Company B, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). Place and Date: Republic of Vietnam, 21 May 1966. Date of Issue: 09/28/1967

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty, when his platoon, while advancing tactically, suddenly came under intense fire from the enemy located on a ridge immediately to the front. Six members of the platoon were killed instantly and a number were wounded, including the platoon leader. Sgt. Dolby’s every move brought fire from the enemy. However, aware that the platoon leader was critically wounded, and that the platoon was in a precarious situation, Sgt. Dolby moved the wounded men to safety and deployed the remainder of the platoon to engage the enemy. Subsequently, his dying platoon leader ordered Sgt. Dolby to withdraw the forward elements to rejoin the platoon. Despite the continuing intense enemy fire and with utter disregard for his own safety, Sgt. Dolby positioned able-bodied men to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements, assisted the wounded to the new position, and he, alone, attacked enemy positions until his ammunition was expended. Replenishing his ammunition, he returned to the area of most intense action, single-handedly killed 3 enemy machine gunners and neutralized the enemy fire, thus enabling friendly elements on the flank to advance on the enemy redoubt. He defied the enemy fire to personally carry a seriously wounded soldier to safety where he could be treated and, returning to the forward area, he crawled through withering fire to within 50 meters of the enemy bunkers and threw smoke grenades to mark them for air strikes. Although repeatedly under fire at close range from enemy snipers and automatic weapons, Sgt. Dolby directed artillery fire on the enemy and succeeded in silencing several enemy weapons. He remained in his exposed location until his comrades had displaced to more secure positions. His actions of unsurpassed valor during 4 hours of intense combat were a source of inspiration to his entire company, contributed significantly to the success of the overall assault on the enemy position, and were directly responsible for saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers. Sgt. Dolby’s heroism was in the highest tradition of the U.S. Army.

Dolby left the Army in 1971 as a Staff Sergeant and completed four additional tours of duty in Vietnam after his Medal of Honor action, and was also awarded the Silver Star for valor.

He was active in veterans’ organizations later in his life, and was in Spirit Lake, Idaho for an veterans’ event when he passed away at age 64 on August 6, 2010. He rests in peace at Arlington National Cemetery.

 

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