Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Specialist 4 Larry Dahl originally joined the Army as a truck driver, but when the enemy started ambushing convoys, he became a gunner too, serving on a truck named “Brutus.” Dahl was awarded the Medal of Honor for jumping on a grenade and saving the lives of his truck’s crew during an ambush.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Specialist Four Larry Gilbert Dahl was born on June 10th, 1949, in Oregon City, Oregon.
In 1969, Dahl enlisted in the U.S. Army. He deployed with the 27th Transportation Battalion to Binh Dinh Province in South Vietnam as the war escalated, and served as a truck driver.
During his battalion’s last rotation, the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the Viet Cong had learned just how much U.S. forces depended on trucks for resupply. Dahl’s battalion would often send convoys ranging from thirty vehicles to over a hundred, with minimal protection and security. As enemy ambushes grew in ferocity, the 27th started manning “gun trucks”, jeeps and small trucks armed to the teeth with machine guns. Gun trucks were critical to convoy security, racing into the killzone in order to draw fire away from unarmed vehicles and repel the ambushers. Over time, crews began to name and stylize their gun trucks.
Dahl originally wasn’t assigned to a gun truck, but quickly became friends with the crew of the “Brutus”, a 5-ton truck armed with two 50 caliber machine guns and a minigun. When the Brutus returned to base, Dahl and three of his friends helped the crew clean the weapons. The crew told them they wanted Dahl’s group to crew the Brutus if anything should happen to them. In November 1970, one of the original crew was killed and the rest wounded in an ambush, leaving Dahl to become a gunner on the Brutus.
On February 23rd, 1971, Dahl and the Brutus were providing security on a convoy of fuel tankers when they were ambushed by an NVA company. Brutus, with two other gun trucks, rushed into the kill zone and suppressed the enemy with their machine gun fire. With the ambush initially repulsed, the Brutus began to return to its original position in the convoy when an enemy grenade landed nearby. Dahl warned the crew and jumped on the grenade, saving their lives at the cost of his own. With the arrival of friendly infantry, the convoy was able to escape the hour-long ambush.
On August 8th, 1974, Dahl was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor at Blair House by Vice President Ford. He was also awarded the Purple Heart.
Dahl was buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland, Oregon. Military Sealift Command named a Watson-class cargo ship the USNS Dahl, in his honor. Throughout Oregon, there are many memorials commemorating his sacrifice.
The Medal of Honor Podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Nathan Corson is our producer and engineer, León Pescador is our script writer, Declan Rohrs is our script editor and recording engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, got to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.