A groundbreaking ceremony will be held next Tuesday for a future commemorative road sign honoring Larry Gilbert Dahl, a U.S. Army specialist who was killed in action during the Vietnam War – and the County’s sole recipient. Clackamas of the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration.
The ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 8 in the auditorium of the Clackamas County Developmental Services Building, 150 Beavercreek Road, Oregon City. The sign will be installed on Highway 99E (McLoughlin Boulevard) at kilometer 14, near the âWelcome to Oregon Cityâ sign at the south entrance to the town of Canemah.
Dahl, who was born and raised in Oregon City, earned the honor posthumously by serving as a .50 caliber machine gunner on an armored truck, nicknamed “Brutus,” near An Khe, Binh Dinh province. On February 23, 1971, Brutus and two other artillery trucks from his convoy entered the battle zone and engaged the attacking enemy troops with a large volume of machine gun fire, causing large numbers of casualties.
After a brief period of intense fighting, an enemy hand grenade was thrown into the truck housing Dahl and his comrades. Dahl was the first to see it and recognize the danger. He immediately issued a warning to his companions and threw himself on the explosive, saving the lives of his three teammates. He was 21 years old.
“Through his indomitable courage, his utter disregard for his safety and his deep concern for his fellow soldiers, Sp4c. Dahl saved the lives of the other members of the truck crew while sacrificing his own,” it reads. quote from Dahl’s Medal of Honor.
“Sp4c. Dahl’s remarkable bravery, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost of his life, beyond the call of duty, conforms to the highest traditions of military service and reflects great honor to himself, his unit and the American army.
Vice President Gerald Ford presented the Medal of Honor on August 8, 1974, just hours before Richard Nixon announced he would step down as President and Ford would become President.
Then-minority leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, who represents the neighboring district of Oregon City, introduced a concurrent resolution earlier this year to officially honor and recognize Dahl’s extraordinary courage and selfless sacrifice. .
Representative Mark Meek, a Gladstone Democrat and US Air Force veteran, co-sponsored the measure, and Senator Bill Kennemer, R-Canby, passed it in the Senate. It was passed unanimously by both Houses, clearing the way for Dahl to be honored with a Fallen Hero Memorial Highway sign.
Clackamas County resident Jim Riggle paid the standard ODOT fee of $ 600 and was credited with helping launch the effort to honor Dahl.
The Committee on Memorials & Remembrance, in affiliation with the Vietnam Veterans of America, worked with the state legislature, ODOT and Riggle to coordinate the signaling effort.
“It is appropriate that Clackamas County honors Specialist 4 Dahl in this manner,” said committee chairman Steve Bates of Boring. âMore people should be aware of his sacrifice in Vietnam. He gave his life for his comrades.
The dedication ceremony will be the subject of keynote addresses by Kennemer, Meek and Steve Carr, president of Portland Vietnam Veterans America Chapter 392. The Clackamas County and American Legion VFW positions will also be represented.
The ceremony is open to the public. Covid-19 protocols will be followed.
The memorial sign is the latest effort to honor the hometown hero. County President Tootie Smith, Oregon City Police Chief Jim Band, former Oregon City Mayor Doug Neeley, and VFW Post Commander DJ Ruger led efforts in 2016 to relocate the memorial which will be has been in the back of a parking lot at the Oregon Territory Museum since 1988.
In November 2016, the Dahl Memorial was re-inaugurated in the Clackamas County Government’s Red Soil Complex Circle of Honor.
Dahl is buried at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. Among his other honors is a place in the Oregon Military Museum, which is located at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas.
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