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Stars that died 2010

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

William H. Dabney, American military officer; awarded Navy Cross died he was 77

William Howard Dabney,  was a retired Colonel in the United States Marine Corps died he was 77. He was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in the Vietnam War. He also served as the Commandant of Cadets at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) from 1989 to 1990.

 (September 28, 1934 – February 15, 2012)


Dabney was born in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada on September 28, 1934 to Hugh Keane Dabney (1893–1972) and Mary Hennessey Dabney (1902–1990). He was raised in Panama and Gloucester County, Virginia, graduating from Christchurch School in Middlesex County, Virginia in 1953. He attended Yale University 1953-54.
U.S. Marine Corps
He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) in 1954. He was discharged with the rank of sergeant and enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve (USMCR) in 1957. He attended Virginia Military Institute (VMI), graduating in 1961. He was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 1960. He was married to Virginia McCandlish Puller in September 1961. She was the daughter of the legendary Marine Corps general, Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller.[1][2]
Dabney served two tours of duty in South Vietnam (RVN) during the Vietnam War. On his first tour from 1967 to 1968, he was in command of India Company, 3rd Battalion, 26th Marines, stationed on Hill 881 South during the Battle of Khe Sanh. Dabney was awarded the Silver Star for action on January 20, 1968 on Hill 881 South. He was also the central real-life character in Kenton Michael's Historical fiction titled, "1968". In 2005, Dabney was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions on Hill 881 South from January 21 to April 14, 1968. He also received a Bronze Star Medal and a Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross for actions during that same time period.[1] On his second tour from 1970 to 1971, he was a senior adviser for a Vietnamese Marine infantry battalion, Khe Sanh, South Vietnam. Dabney was awarded a second Bronze Star, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, a Purple Heart Medal, and a second RVN Gallantry Cross.[1]
He received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal during his service as Chief of the Combat Operations Center, National Emergency Airborne Command Post, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, 1980-1981.[1]
He received the Legion of Merit while serving as Commanding Officer, Headquarters Battalion, Headquarters, Marine Corps, Henderson Hall, 1984-1987.[1]
He also served as the Commandant of Cadets at Virginia Military Institute from 1989 to 1990 and was the Commanding Officer of VMI's NROTC Unit from 1987 to 1990. Dabney retired June 30, 1990.[1]
Dabney died February 15, 2012, at his home in Lexington, Virginia.[2] His parents are buried in the Ware Episcopal Church Cemetery in Glouchester, Virginia.

Navy Cross Citation

Date of Action: January 21 to April 14, 1968
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the NAVY CROSS to COLONEL [THEN CAPTAIN] WILLIAM H. DABNEY (MCSN: 0-80399), UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Commanding Officer of two heavily reinforced rifle companies of the Third Battalion, Twenty-Sixth Marines, Third Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, in connection with operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam from 21 January to 14 April 1968. During the entire period, Colonel DABNEY'S force stubbornly defended Hill 881S, a regional outpost vital to the defense of the Khe Sanh Combat Base. Following his bold spoiling attack on 20 January 1968, shattering a much larger North Vietnamese Army (NVA) force deploying to attack Hill 881S, Colonel Dabney's force was surrounded and cut off from all outside ground supply for the entire 77 day Siege of Khe Sanh. Enemy snipers, machine guns, artillery, and 120-millimeter mortars responded to any daylight movement on his position. In spite of deep entrenchments, his total casualties during the siege were close to 100 percent. Helicopters were his only source of resupply, and each such mission brought down a cauldron of fire on his landing zones. On numerous occasions Colonel DABNEY raced into the landing zone under heavy hostile fire to direct debarkation of personnel and to carry wounded Marines to evacuation helicopters. The extreme difficulty of resupply resulted in conditions of hardship and deprivation seldom experienced by American forces. Nevertheless, Colonel DABNEY'S indomitable spirit was truly an inspiration to his troops. He organized his defenses with masterful skill and his preplanned fires shattered every enemy probe on his positions. He also devised an early warning system whereby NVA artillery and rocket firings from the west were immediately reported by lookouts to the Khe Sanh Combat Base, giving exposed personnel a few life saving seconds to take cover, saving countless lives, and facilitating the targeting of enemy firing positions. Colonel DABNEY repeatedly set an incredible example of calm courage under fire, gallantly exposing himself at the center of every action without concern for his own safety. Colonel DABNEY contributed decisively to ultimate victory in the Battle of Khe Sanh, and ranks among the most heroic stands of any American force in history. By his valiant combat leadership, exceptional bravery, and selfless devotion to duty, Colonel DABNEY reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.[3]

Decorations and awards

Colonel Dabney's military awards include:
Navy Cross
Silver Star Medal
Gold star
Legion of Merit with one 516 gold star
Gold star
Bronze Star Medal with one 516 gold star
Purple Heart Medal
Gold star
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with one 516 gold star
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one 516 gold star
Combat Action Ribbon
Presidential Unit Citation
National Defense Service Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal with four 316 bronze stars
Vietnam gallantry cross-w-palm-3d.svg Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with palm
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960- device

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