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First Name: David

Last Name: Dolby

Birthplace: Norristown, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Philadelphia, PA
Middle Name: Charles

Date of Birth: 14 May 1946

Date of Death: 06 August 2010

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Years Served: 1964 - 1971
David Charles Dolby
'Mad Dog'

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


David Charles 'Mad Dog' Dolby
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Recipient
Vietnam War

Staff Sergeant David Charles Dolby (14 May 1946 - 6 August 2010) served in the U.S. Army and received the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his heroic actions in the Vietnam War.

Dolby was born on 14 May 1946, in Norristown, PA. His father, Charles L. Dolby, was a personnel manager for B.F. Goodrich Company in Oaks, PA, and had been a POW during WWII. He had a younger brother, Daniel. David was a solid 6-footer who wrestled and played football in high school.

He enlisted in the Army at 18 and became an Army Ranger and a member of the Green Berets. "Mad Dog," as he was known to his Army comrades - was known to scout the jungle ahead of the other men, toting his heavy M60 machine gun like a rifle. On 21 May 1966, Dolby was serving in the Republic of Vietnam as a Specialist Four with Company B, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

On that day, his platoon came under heavy fire which killed six soldiers and wounded a number of others, including the platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Robert H. Crum Jr. Within an hour of the ambush's first shots, the Lieutenant, drenched in blood from bullet wounds, sat against a tree and relinquished command of his men to Sp4. Dolby. In Brig. Gen. S.L.A. Marshall's 1967 book about Vietnam, "Battles in the Monsoon," an entire chapter is dedicated to Spec. Dolby's rescue efforts. Marshall said Spec. Dolby was "one of the rarest of warriors -- a man with keen imagination who at the same time, when under fire, seems to be wholly without fear."

While fully exposed to enemy fire, Spec. Dolby launched his own assault on the enemy machine gun bunkers until he'd expended all of his ammunition. "I prayed in the beginning and then I didn't have time to pray," Spec. Dolby later said of the action on the ridge that day, noting that "bullets were going by -- under my arms, between my legs, past my head."

Throughout the ensuing four-hour battle, Dolby led his platoon in its defense, organized the extraction of the wounded (14), and directed artillery fire despite close-range attacks from enemy snipers and automatic weapons. He single-handedly attacked the hostile positions and silenced three machine guns, allowing a friendly force to execute a flank attack. An Army report counted 55 dead enemies on the ridge and estimated that 100 others were killed or wounded.

Sgt. Alonzo Peoples was one of the 14 wounded men. About Dolby, he later said, "The bravest man I ever knew, maybe the bravest that ever lived. He saved all of us."

Dolby was subsequently promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization. Sergeant (then Sp4.), 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.

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.

The medal was formally presented to Sergeant Dolby by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 28 September 1967.

In addition to the 1965-66 tour in which he earned the Medal of Honor, Dolby was deployed four more times to Vietnam, which was highly unusual. In 1967 he served there with the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division; in 1969 with C Company (Ranger), 75th Infantry (Airborne), First Field Force Vietnam; in 1970 as an Adviser to the Vietnamese Rangers; and in 1971 as an Adviser to the Royal Cambodian Army. Dolby said of his continuous service, "If I'm going to be in the Army, I'd rather be in Vietnam where the action is. I feel I can be of more help to my fellow men there."

Dolby's life after receiving the Medal of Honor was marked by controversy. In 1969, he was arrested for possession of marijuana and for participating in a brawl in Vietnam. He was fined $342 and reduced a grade in rank. He left the Army in 1971 with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Medals, Awards, Badges & Tabs

Medal of Honor
Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal (3 Awards)
Purple Heart
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab
Special Forces Tab

Post-Military Life

Dolby was married to Xuan, whom he met in Vietnam. They had no children.

David worked in a tire factory and a steel mill; he was also a painting contractor with his brother, Daniel.

In 1974, Dolby was arrested by FBI agents for cashing at least 58 fraudulent checks, under assumed names and worth between $8 and $500, during a trip to Hawaii. He pled guilty to cashing $1,200 in bad checks and was placed on three years' probation. Upon receiving his sentence, Mr. Dolby told the court: "I'm sorry to say I made such a poor and incredible decision at the time."

His wife, Xuan, died on 9 April 1987. After her death, he lived quietly in Royersford, PA.

Over his last 20 years, Dolby attended many veterans' events around the U.S. and once opened the New York Stock Exchange on Veterans Day. He most recently worked to bring attention to the neglected Medal of Honor Grove at the Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Death and Burial

David Charles Dolby died in his sleep, at age 64, on the morning of 6 August 2010, while visiting Spirit Lake, ID, for a veterans' gathering. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 59, Site 498.

Dolby was survived by his mother, Mary Dolby of Laureldale, PA and his brother, Daniel, of Coventryville, PA.


"Look, we're all equal," Dolby once said of Medal of Honor recipients. "We all did things that, if we had chosen not to do, nobody would have said we should have done. We all had that one moment in our lives. Other than that, we're just normal people."

Simple but true words from a man who served five tours in Vietnam during the war.

Honoree ID: 931   Created by: MHOH




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