LYNDON (KSNT) – Born and raised in Lyndon, E5 Sergeant Don Dickerhoof went from life in small town Kansas to the fight overseas in Vietnam with the Army.
After being drafted into the army in the late 60’s, a lot of Dickerhoof’s perspective changed.
“I did take everything for granted till I got in the army,” Dickerhoof said. “Basic, I had never been away from home when I got drafted. It was a shock.”
Serving in the 101st Airborne up north in the mountains, every move his unit made was by helicopter.
“In a year I was on 22 different firebases,” Dickerhoof said. “It was fire missions, that’s what our role was either in support of infantry, or suppressing fire, or if they would find an ammunition cache or something they needed blown up that was our job.”
While each firebase had their own unique challenges, there’s one in particular that still sticks with the Sergeant to this day.
“Every firebase I was on we took incoming at some time from the enemy, but on Firebase Henderson we got overran on May 6th,” he said. “We lost 20, I think 26 guys that night. That sticks in your mind.”
From that night, he would receive the Silver Star and Purple Heart.
“I had shrapnel in my right hand and shoulder, and burns on one leg from a flamethrower,” Dickerhoof said. “As far as the silver star, I always tell people all I was doing was saving my own butt, and I just happened to have a couple of guys with me.”
Even through those challenges overseas, decades later the Sergeant still reflects fondly on the lessons he learned through his time with the military.
“The army actually was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Dickerhoof said. “It changed my work ethic, it changed the way I did things, the way I looked at things. The army as a whole was probably one of the better things to ever happen to me.”
After he returned stateside, Dickerhoof spent 31 and a half years working for the US Army Corps of Engineers at Pomona Lake. He’s now enjoying retirement over in his hometown.