“Nobody Pins A Tiger Down – Fix Bayonets”: Memories Of A Tiger Force Veteran

Carroll W. "Dink" Dinkle


Carroll Dinkle was born in June 1943 and grew up in Hurt, Virginia, with his parents and his 4 siblings. His father had worked at the Lane furniture company and during World War II worked with German POWs. He then quit the Lane Company and bought a farm. As a boy, Carroll remembers learning to drive a tractor, pulling tobacco leaves (he was proud of his abilities, and gardening (he did not like working in the garden). He quit high school in the 11th grade, worked on the farm, and later enlisted in the Army. He loved driving his 55 Olds fast, and some run-ins with law enforcement encouraged him to go to the Army. When he joined the Army, he was in good shape from working on the farm and volunteered for the Airborne, thinking he’d be assigned to Ft. Bragg, which was close to home. Instead, he was assigned to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, where he joined the Anti-Tank Platoon in the 1st Battalion of the 327th Infantry. Airborne school was the first time he was ever in an airplane and he remembers jumping from the C-119, the Korean War vintage “flying boxcar.” At Campbell, he trained with the ENTAC anti-tank missile, and was the best ENTAC gunner on post. He recalls being alerted for deployment to PACOM (Pacific Command – Vietnam was one of the potential destinations). The Soldiers packed their gear in Conex containers, flew to California, and boarded the USNS General LeRoy T. Elting for an adventurous voyage to South East Asia, arriving at Cam Ranh Bay in July 1965. Upon arrival in Vietnam, the Anti-Tank Platoon spent a few days in Cam Ranh Bay before beginning convoy escort duties, either rolling with the convoys or guarding bridges and crossroads. Shortly after their arrival in country, MAJ David Hackworth formed Tiger Force (without explicit permission), a machine gun-heavy reaction force designed for reconnaissance. Dink describes some of the missions he conducted as a member of Tiger Force, including patrols and ambushes. He discusses some of his experiences in the jungles of Vietnam, including two Soldiers who were shot trying to get water, and a Forward Observer and his RTO (Radio Telephone Operator) who were captured. Later they recaptured the Forward Observer’s weapon. In another example, the local barber was discovered to be VC. He recalls his experiences on February 7, 1966, during the battle at Tiger Field, where Tiger Force attacked to rescue a pinned-down company. The Tigers’ platoon leader, LT James Gardner, was killed on his birthday, earning the Medal of Honor for his leadership and actions on that day. Dink describes hearing a bullet pass by his ear, and Gardner ordering the Soldiers to fix bayonets because “nobody pins a Tiger down.” The charge worked, shocking the North Vietnamese, some of whom were in the trees. At dusk, Tiger Force pulled back, and when asked for permission to reenter the field to recover Gardner, Hackworth said no because there were “too many casualties today.” Five Soldiers, including Dink, ignored the order and went back to get Gardner. The next morning, the Air Force bombed the area. Later, Tiger Force executed an amphibious landing. He returned from Vietnam in July 1966, coming back to Ft. Campbell. After he left the Army in March 1967, he returned to Virginia, eventually taking over the farm from his father after working for 19 years for B&W on nuclear reactors for the Navy. He never talked much about Vietnam and tried to put it out of his mind. He probably experienced Post Traumatic Stress, but did not know what it was. Attending reunions (his first was in 2006) helps him because he can talk with other veterans about what he experienced because “we know each other.” He ends the interview stating that he is proud of his service, and he was suited for Tiger Force.


conflicts Vietnam War
topics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Techniques Returning from War PTSD
interviewer David Siry
date 21 May 2024


name Carroll W. "Dink" Dinkle
service Infantry
unit Tiger Force, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division
specialty Tiger Force
service dates 1964 1967