Colonel whose words inspired thousands at 2013 jamboree has died

Col-Lawrence-Dahl-at-2013-jamboree-2Col. Lawrence Dahl, an Eagle Scout whose words inspired Scouts and Venturers at the 2013 National Jamboree’s stadium show, died on Friday.

“You are this country’s best and brightest,” he told the tens of thousands of jamboree youth. “You are this country’s future.”

Dahl was one of our country’s best and brightest, too. He served our nation in Germany, Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan. And when his overseas duty ended, he served domestically as a mentor to younger soldiers transitioning back to civilian life.

Dahl’s military experience was forever changed in 2007 in Iraq when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb, resulting in a severe head and neck injury.

“My recovery was long and difficult, but once again my Scouting experience helped me get through it,” Dahl said in a jamboree video message you can watch below.

He was recalled to active duty after his recovery and was sent to Afghanistan in 2011. There, he suffered another injury during a rocket attack, causing more damage to his head and spine. He finished his mission and returned home in February 2012.

The time until his death was spent mentoring younger soldiers at the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Benning in Georgia. And, of course, he took time to visit the 2013 National Jamboree at the Summit to address the next generation of American leaders.

Through it all, Dahl recognized the value Scouting had in his journey toward becoming a real-life hero.

“Scouting helps you be prepared for whatever life throws at you, even when it’s not pleasant,” he told the jamboree participants. “I don’t know how your life will turn out, but I do know that you’ll have some ups and downs. And I know that Scouting will help you be prepared for whatever happens.”

Dahl died on Aug. 1, 2014, and will soon be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Before his passing, he left behind a note, given to his wife with instructions to share with friends after he died.

That note has circulated among jamboree staff members and was sent to me by my Scouting friend Patrick Adams. I’ve included it below.

These are impassioned, powerful words from a man whose character was forged in Scouting and tested on the battlefields. His bravery, loyalty and honor will never be forgotten.

Col. Dahl’s final letter

Hello Everyone,

On Friday, August 1, at approximately 1:45 pm, I took my final step on my personal hiking trail. I have one more short trip to make to where I will pitch my tent for the last time and rest beside my final campfire. That campground will be at Arlington National Cemetery.

All in all, my trail has been fairly level with only gentle slopes and good weather for most of its length. That is not to say that there have not been some hard climbs and some rough weather, but I would be hard pressed to complain about it. I just thought that there would have been a few more miles to have travelled.

I want to thank all of you that I have met along that trail for the friendship and kindness that you have shown. Those are the things that have made my hike so enjoyable. I hope that I have shown the same measure of kindness and friendship to you, as well.

I also want to thank all of you for the kind words and messages that you have shared with me over these past few months. It has done me well to receive them from you, as well as, to have reconnected with those of you that I have drifted apart from. I want to thank those of you that sent my messages to those that I had drifted from. You did a great service to me by letting those people know about my situation. I have often said, that it is all about people helping people and you have shown that to be the case one more time for me.

Other than that, there is not too much else to say. All in all, life has been pretty fair and I can say, in all honesty, that I have enjoyed it and tried to live every moment to its fullest. My advice to all of you would be to do the same, embrace those around you, stay in contact with those you consider to be friends and don’t be afraid to tell those around you how you feel about them. As I have so recently found out, life is shorter than we think it will be. I have been fortunate that I had some advance notice of when my time would be ending and it has enabled me to reach out and contact all of you. Not all of us will be that fortunate. So I guess what I am saying is do not wait until the last minute to say hello to people that you might want to.

I have been blessed to have known the love of my wife of more than 25 years, Lisa and the joy of my children of over 20 years, Ashley and of over 18 years, Larry. They have stood like a rock in my support during this time of trial and tribulation.

Since becoming a Cub Scout at a young age and going through Boy Scouts, then serving as an adult Scout Leader and even as recent as the July 2013 Boy Scout National Jamboree, I have tried to live by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law both in how I carried myself personally and publically.

The Scout Oath

“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

and the Scout Law which reads:

A Scout is:
and Reverent.

I have found that these few simple words provided me the guidance that I needed to conduct my life. Those of you that have seen these before will understand what I mean. Those of you that have not please read them as they will help you understand what made me who I am.

Now it is time to draw this note to a close and say my final farewell to all of you. Once again, thanks again for the friendship and if you have an occasional thought about me I hope it is a good thought.

Best Wishes and good luck to all.

Col. Dahl’s jamboree message



  1. Condolences to the Colonel’s family and RIP Col. Dahl. An outstanding individual who will be missed but not forgotten.

  2. Thank you for posting this article about Col. Dahl. I just sat down at my computer to write my Scoutmaster minute for our Troop meeting tonight. Instead of writing a minute, I am going to print this article and read it aloud to our Troop tonight. We have elections this evening for the new term. I think sharing Col. Dahl’s story and letter will be very fitting. Peace be with you Col. Dahl and God Bless….

  3. RIP Colonels Dahl. You are an inspiration to all not just Boy and Eagle Scouts. My prayers go out to the Dahl Family

  4. God Bless COL Dahl and his wonderful family! He truly was a remarkable man and lived the Scout Oath and Law. I had the pleasure to accompany him on trips out into the “countryside” during the last deployment to Afghanistan. He always took time to help soldiers, especially those who were overlooked for long overdue recognition for their service.

    Until we meet again on that FOB in the great yonder, and perhaps even wait in the Early Morning Rain, God Bless You Sir!!!



  5. My condolences to the Dahl family. I was fortunate enough to have served with Col Dahl and learn under his tutelage. He exemplified what a great leader is all about, Mission First, Men Always. See you on the high ground Sir.

  6. I will miss you buddy, Col Dahl. I was glad that I got to speak to you on the phone a month or so ago, I am also glad My Lisa got to speak to you.

  7. To the Dahl Family, I know that this is a very hard time that you find yourself now navigating. I truly empathize with the situation that has prematurely taken an amazing human being, the loss I feel for your husband and father can in now way compare to the loss you now feel, I am compelled to express that I will truly miss him, I knew him personally and got to spend a lot of time with him prior to coming home to rest.

    Know amount of words can express the impact this great man has had on my wife and I, nor the impact he made on every person whether soldier or not that had the pleasure of hearing him speak to them. It was only that much better if he was your friend. It was truly my honor to know this man! I will see you again my friend; COL Larry Dahl, from your friend SGT Duane Kirk (USA Ret)

  8. I had the honor to video tape Larry at my house for the linked video that was shown at the 2013 Jamboree. It was a pleasure for my wife and I to sit down and get to know Larry for the brief but lasting encounter. My two sons, Daniel and Logan, were in the Georgia National Guard at the time and were driving back from Florida to meet Larry but were held up in traffic. Larry was nice enough to talk to my sons over the phone while they were driving. In particular, Logan had applied to West Point and was getting ready to head off to the USMAP prep school on West Point, or as Larry referred to it as “Hudson High” and we all joked about it. I could tell from the moment I met him that Larry was a special guy. We have truly lost a great person and great American. I am proud to call him a dear friend albeit for the short time. I sent Larry DVD copies for the Jambo video and he said it meant a lot because his family could see and remember him when he was able to walk. He has truly left his mark on so many. I will miss him as he to touched me.

  9. Great American, Leader, and inspiration to all. Served with Larry in Afghanistan and was a true friend.

    We would close each Scout meeting with this ” And now, may the Great Scout master of all great scouts be with us until we meet again.”

    Prayers to his family.

    Steve Bentley

  10. This is Bill from 1:10 in the video. You were agreat mentor, Patrol, and Senior Patrol Leader and fellow Eagle Scout. I was fortunate to take the Senior Patrol Leader position after you. Although I left NB after college I always retained the ethics of the BSA and of our troop.

    Condolences to your family.


  11. Prayers to the Dahl family. Col. Dahl will be remembered as great American and leader, thank you for all you have done for this country and for being an inspiration to Scouting.

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