Captain Donald Appler served two tours with the 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam. During his first tour in 1966 as a lieutenant, he was assigned to A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry. On 7 July, he received a mission to move to and reinforce a besieged infantry company. Lieutenant Appler assembled his platoon and moved through five kilometers of dangerously mined and booby trapped terrain to reach the company. After reinforcing the infantry company, the whole force set out to reach base camp, moving through hazardous and treacherous terrain and arriving safe with no further loss of lives. For his determination, aggressiveness and courage, LT Appler was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V Device for heroism.
Upon his return to Vietnam as a captain, he was assigned as commander, C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry. On 24 June 1969, while on a combat operation, CPT Appler’s troop came in contact with a large enemy force. During the initial contact, several casualties were sustained. Immediately maneuvered his vehicle through the intense fire to evacuate the wounded men. With complete disregard for his own safety, CPT Appler expose himself to the hail of fire as he directed effective covering fire for the evacuation of the wounded men. For his bravery, aggressiveness and devotion to duty, CPT Appler was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device.
On 31 July 1969 while on a sweep operation, C Troop came under intense fire from a well concealed enemy force. During the initial encounter, two of his men were wounded by rocket propelled grenades (RPG). With complete disregard for his own safety, CPT Appler maneuvered his own vehicle through the intense fire to the casualties’ location and evacuated the injured men to safety. His valorous actions were responsible for saving several lives. CPT Appler’s bravery, aggressiveness and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the 25th Infantry Division. CPT Appler was awarded his second Army Commendation Medal with V Device for heroism.
During this same assignment to Vietnam, CPT Appler was serving with the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the 3rd Squadron. On 7 December 1969, while driving behind a Sheridan tank, he noticed the vehicle was on fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, CPT Appler stripped the vehicle and immediately started pulling the highly explosive ammunition from the tank. A few moments later, the tank was burning out of control. CPT Appler began warning others of the danger and immediately had the area cleared. For his heroic action, CPT Appler was awarded the nation’s highest medal for heroism not involving actual conflict with an armed enemy.