Dave Dever grew up around Chicago, Illinois, but moved around frequently as a boy. In 1961, he joined the Army to achieve independence. After basic training and Advanced Infantry Training at Ft. Ord, California, and Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to B Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. While at Ft. Campbell, the unit trained intensely for their upcoming deployment to Vietnam. As one of the first units to deploy to Vietnam, they traveled by boat, the USS General LeRoy Eltinge (AP-154), to Cam Ranh Bay after stopping briefly in the Philippines. He remembers seeing General Westmoreland and Taylor when they disembarked. Initially, he was assigned as the Battalion Commander’s driver before being moved to Tiger Force, the recon element for 1-327. He felt a sense of esprit in Tiger Force – they moved at night, they prided themselves on moving silently, and they were a learning organization where they shared techniques with each other. After returning home, he was assigned to the 197th Infantry Brigade at Ft. Benning before ETSing. He quickly discovered that he did not understand civilian life and quickly reenlisted, telling the recruiter, “just send me to Vietnam.” Returning to Vietnam, he was assigned to the 173rd Airborne Brigade, serving as the Platoon Sergeant in 3rd Platoon, A Company, 1-503. He realized that at 23 years old, he was an old man, concerned about taking care of his Soldiers the whole time. He found it different, being with a line company, and he tried to pass on the lessons he learned with Tiger Force. After he was wounded for the second time, he was reassigned to the 507th Replacement Company in Cam Ranh Bay, and was responsible for assigning incoming troops to units. After returning from Vietnam in 1970, he became a recruiter and experienced the transition from the draft Army to the all-volunteer Army. Later, he transitioned to the Army Reserves and continued to serve as a recruiter and in ARPERCEN (Army Reserve Personnel Center).
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, joining the Army, training and deploying for Vietnam. He describes in detail several engagements he was in, including a battle at “Tiger Field,” and ending up inside an enemy perimeter at night. He discusses his career after returning from Vietnam and his duties as a recruiter. He explores how Post Traumatic Stress has affected his life and how he deals with it “by not dealing with it.” That discussion dovetails into the question of attending reunions. At first, he was hesitant because he was afraid of dredging up bad memories, but now he finds reunions to bring a sense of soothing calm, and he enjoys meeting with former comrades. Finally he reflects on what his service means to him.