“The Fear Of Letting Someone Down Is Stronger Than The Fear Of The Enemy”: Memories of Serving With D/1-5 Cavalry

Ralph Dahl


Ralph Dahl arrived in Vietnam on October 16, 1967, and was assigned to 1st Platoon, D Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, in the 1st Cavalry Division. He remembers meeting Fred Tobler, a short, fearless, point man. He learned through “OJT” (on the job training) and quickly realized he needed to “stop bitching about what you can’t fix.” In October 1967, D/1-5 Cavalry was operating in the area around Bong Son, based out of LZ English. Ralph recalls Bong Son, where they “went days without contact,” as “a party compared to up north.” His company commander was Captain Johnson, a good leader “you wanted to fight for.” Ralph describes what he carried in the field, learning who he could rely on, and gaining experience moving through the jungle. He discusses, in detail, many of the members of his platoon, recalling traits that stand out in his memory. As he increased in rank during his tour in Vietnam, he reflects on his relationship with different Platoon Leaders, and what he taught them versus what he expected from them. Following the Tet Offensive, D Company was sent north. Ralph contrasts fighting the Viet Cong around Bong Son compared and the heavier combat he experienced in the north. He describes enduring a mortar attack and how he dealt with his emotions. Ralph notes that “KIAs were always hard,” remembering losing Platoon Sergeant Steve Harding and his best friend Herman Taylor. At the end of the interview, he reflects on attending reunions (he was one of the first 10 organizing a D/1-5 reunion), what his service means to him, and dealing with Post Traumatic Stress. Recalling the casualties, he states, “You get pissed that they didn’t have what I had. You think about what they missed.”


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques Life After Military PTSD
interviewer Kyle Hatzinger
date 13 June 2023


name Ralph Dahl
service Infantry
unit D / 1-5 Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division