Monday, May 21, 2012

TFH 5/21: Sergeant David Charles Dolby, USA

David Charles Dolby was born May 14, 1946 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. His father, Charles, had served as a B-17 Flying Fortress crew member during World War II and survived both being shot down and captivity as a German prisoner of war.

At age 20, Dolby was a Specialist Four serving with the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment in Vietnam as part of the 1st Cavalry Division. While his unit was in the attack, they faced intense resistance and casualties to most of the platoon's leadership. He rallied the men around him, repeatedly risked his own safety to rescue the wounded, and single handedly neutralized enemy position after position to insure that his fellow soldiers would leave the battlefield victorious. His courage above and beyond the normal call of duty was recognized with the Medal of Honor.

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


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. Entered service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Born: 14 May 1946, Norristown, Pa. G.O. No.: 45, 20 October 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.

David Dolby served an additional four tours of duty or assignments to Vietnam in 1967, 1969, and 1970-71. He left the US Army as a Staff Sergeant and passed away from natural causes on August 6, 2010 at age 64. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry is today a combined-arms battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division. Their home station is Fort Hood, Texas.

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