Larry G. Dahl

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Larry Gilbert Dahl
Head and shoulders of a young man with thick-framed glasses in military uniform. He is wearing a peaked cap and a military jacket with a "US" pin on the lapel over a shirt and dark tie
Specialist Four Larry Dahl
Born 1949[1]
Oregon City, Oregon
Died February 23, 1971(1971-02-23) aged 21
near An Khe, Binh Dinh Province, Republic of Vietnam
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1969 - 1971
Rank Specialist Four
Unit 359th Transportation Company, 27th Transportation Battalion
Battles/wars Vietnam War 
Awards Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Larry Gilbert Dahl (1949[1] – February 23, 1971) was a United States Army soldier and a recipient of the United States military's highest decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions in the Vietnam War.

Biography[edit]

Dahl joined the Army from Portland, Oregon in 1969,[2] and by February 23, 1971 was serving as a Specialist Four in the 359th Transportation Company, 27th Transportation Battalion, U.S. Army Support Command. He along with Richard Bond, Ronald Mallory and Charles Huser had become friends with the crew of the gun truck, Brutus, and helped clean the truck every time it came off the road. The current crew said that if anything happened to them, they wanted those four men to take their place. On November 21, 1970, Brutus was hit by either rockets or mortars killing Jimmy Ray Callison and wounding William Kagel & Ernest Quintana. The gun truck was turned over to their good friends who cleaned it up and repainted it - they wanted the enemy to see no signs of damage. On February 23, 1971, two fuel convoys headed west on QL 19 from Qui Nhon. Richard Bond had the day off and SGT Hector Diaz had taken his place as the NCOIC of Brutus. The lead fuel convoy escorted by gun trucks of the 545th Transportation Company was ambushed as it crossed over the top of An Khe Pass by a significantly large enemy force. The 359th convoy at the bottom of the pass halted and the gun trucks asked if the lead convoy needed help. So Brutus, The Untouchable, The Misfits and gun jeep Li'l Brutus raced up the mountain pass into the kill zone in that order. The ambush had probably been going on for over 30 minutes when the gun truck crews in the lead convoy heard the mini-gun of Brutus firing as it came around the bend. Morale significantly improved. Ron Mallory pulled Brutus right up next to a burning fuel tanker as was their policy. The fight continued for about another 15 minutes before it then died down. Thinking it was over, Brutus and The Misfits decided to turn around and head back to their convoy. As Ron Mallory backed his truck up to turn around, three or four enemy soldiers attacked it and tossed a hand grenade in the gun box. Larry Dahl saw it first and without any regard for his own safety threw his body on it to protect his buddies. The resulting explosion killed him and wounded Diaz and Huser. Mallory raced his truck to the safety of the nearest check point to get his crew medevaced. Vietnam gun truck veterans cite Dahl's ultimate sacrifice as evidence of the strong bond among gun truck crews.[3]

Dahl, aged 21 at his death, was buried in Willamette National Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.[4]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Specialist Dahl's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Sp4c. Dahl distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as a machine gunner on a gun truck near An Khe, Binh Dinh Province. The gun truck in which Sp4c. Dahl was riding was sent with 2 other gun trucks to assist in the defense of a convoy that had been ambushed by an enemy force. The gun trucks entered the battle zone and engaged the attacking enemy troops with a heavy volume of machine gun fire, causing a large number of casualties. After a brief period of intense fighting the attack subsided. As the gun trucks were preparing to return to their normal escort duties, an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the truck in which Sp4c. Dahl was riding. Instantly realizing the great danger, Sp4c. Dahl called a warning to his companions and threw himself directly onto the grenade. Through his indomitable courage, complete disregard for his safety, and profound concern for his fellow soldiers, Sp4c. Dahl saved the lives of the other members of the truck crew while sacrificing his own. Sp4c. Dahl's conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit and the U.S. Army.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sources are inconsistent on Dahl's date of birth. His Medal of Honor citation gives October 6, 1949 ([1]), while his government-issued headstone gives June 10, 1949 ("Larry G. Dahl". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved September 2, 2010. ).
  2. ^ Service Profile
  3. ^ Richard E. Killblane, Convoy Ambush Case Studies Vol. I, Korea and Vietnam, US Army Transportation School, 2014
  4. ^ "Larry G. Dahl". Claim to Fame: Medal of Honor recipients. Find a Grave. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  5. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients - Vietnam (A-L)". United States Army Center of Military History. August 3, 2009.