MENOMONIE — On the morning of Nov. 17, 1966, David Dolan learned true courage.
Dolan followed the discipline he had been taught in the U.S. Marines and, while being fired on in the Phu Loc District in South Vietnam and suffering two wounds, he helped disrupt a Viet Cong attack.
His bravery earned then-Private First Class Dolan, now 70, a Silver Star.
Dolan of Maple Grove, Minn., spoke to Menomonie Middle School students Friday for Veterans Day. Dolan’s son, Tim, teaches eighth grade English at the school.
“We all have fears,” Dolan told the students and community members attending. “You need to stand up to that. Courage is nothing more than taking one more step than you think you can.”
Dolan encouraged students to have honor and take responsibility for their actions.
Commitment is vital to succeed in life, Dolan said, noting it is important to do the best you can in whatever you do.
Freedom also is vital, but exercising one’s own freedom cannot impinge on others’ rights, he noted.
“We have to think of others around us,” Dolan said.
Dolan, a retired missionary who spent 23 years in Taiwan, said it was a privilege to speak to the students.
Dolan volunteered for the Marine Corps after high school. In the first three months of duty, half the men he was with on two squads died from booby traps and in battle.
Dolan said a point man he was with was struck the day Dolan was injured. Dolan fired repeatedly, despite being shot twice, saving the other man’s life.
One of the bullets struck Dolan’s flak jacket head on and shattered, sending pieces throughout his abdomen.
On Thursday, he had an X-ray that showed 20 fragments still in his body, Dolan said.
Tim Dolan said he was pleased to have his father speak at the Middle School.
“I think it is a great way to honor his service and let him tell his story and talk about his past,” Tim Dolan said.
During the ceremony, students read historical pieces including George Washington’s first inaugural address, and the choir, band and orchestra performed. The Menomonie Honor Guard conducted a flag salute outside the school.
Mayor Randy Knaack told the hundreds of students and community members in attendance Americans’ freedoms are because of veterans.
“Freedom is not free,” Knaack said. “Some people have given their limbs. Some people have given their lives.”
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