The Heroic Insubordination of Dave Teich: A Forgotten Tale of the Korean War

 December 8, 2023

Among the Korean War's many unsung heroes, the name Dave Teich stands out as one of insuboordination and heroism.

While the words "insuboordination" and "heroism" are not typically used in the same sentence, they are certainly warranted in this case. Dave Teich's tale is a testament to the power of integrity and courage.

This is the story of a man who defied orders, not out of rebellion, but out of an unflinching commitment to his fellow soldiers.

Prelude to Dave Teich's Insuboordination

The Korean War: A Forgotten Conflict

The Korean War, spanning from 1950 to 1953, was a bitter contest of ideologies.

Sandwiched between World War II and the Vietnam War, this conflict often fades into the background of popular history.

The war began when North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union, invaded South Korea, prompting an international response led by the United States under the banner of the United Nations.

The war was characterized by a series of seesaw battles, with the control of the Korean peninsula swinging back and forth between the opposing forces.

It was a gruesome, brutal conflict, marked by harsh winters and fierce fighting.

The Fateful Circumstances

The circumstances that led up to Dave Teich's insuboordination would never happen in today's military. However, the tenet of "leave no man behind" had not yet been cemented into the U.S. Army.

Ranger, E.C. Rivera and 65 others, many of them wounded, were trapped on a hill. Surrounded by enemy soldiers, there was no way to communicate and request evac.

Rivera refused to give up. He calculated a mere 20-minute window before the enemy fully surrounded them. Yet, in the face of imminent danger, Rivera held his ground, channeling the steadfast determination that defined his American spirit.

Crawling to the top of the napalm-fried hill, Rivera managed to get a radio signal. Unfortunately, no one was responding.

Dave Teich's Heroic Defiance

In the midst of the chaos as 300 Chinese tanks rumbled towards his position, Dave Teich heard Rivera's desperate call for help. The static-filled radio message resonated deeply with him, sparking his sense of duty.

For Dave Teich, the plea was a summons he could not ignore.

Dave approached his captain and proposed a daring rescue mission. But, his request was denied with these shocking words: "We've got orders to move out. Screw them. Let them fight their own battles."

A Shining Example of Integrity

Despite the stark dismissal, Teich's resolve remained unshaken. He recognized the desperate situation the Rangers were in and knew he had to act. Ignoring his captain's orders, he took the mantle of a true American hero.

"If somebody asks for help, you can’t deny them,... When these guys talked to me on the radio, they were in a real bad position. It’s up to me. I’ve got a moral obligation as an officer to do things that are right. Just as a human being, you’ve got to do things that are right."

Dave Teich

Commandeering four tanks, Teich led a daring rescue mission. The path was treacherous and fraught with danger, yet his commitment to his fellow soldiers never wavered. To Teich, this was not just an act of insubordination, but a moral obligation, a testament to his loyalty and courage.

From his precarious perch, Rivera saw the approaching tanks, a sight that filled him with profound relief. He witnessed firsthand the promise of hope that Teich and his tanks represented.

As the tanks closed in, the beleaguered Rangers made their way to safety.

Despite their wounds and exhaustion, they persevered, driven by the sight of their impending rescue.

Thanks to Teich's audacious act, 65 American soldiers were saved that day.


Dave Teich's Lasting Legacy

The significance of Teich's actions reverberate far beyond the battlefield.

Capt. James Herbert, the commander of the 8th Ranger Company, reflected on that day, saying:

"Dave Teich saved our lives. If it wasn't for him, we figure all of the survivors of the battle would have been killed or captured by the Chinese. We look upon Dave as our savior"​.

Capt. James Herbert

Teich's defiance of orders not only saved lives but also imparted valuable lessons about leadership, duty, and the spirit of camaraderie.

It underscored the importance of critical decision-making in war and the importance of never leaving a man behind.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dave Teich

Who is Dave Teich?

Dave Teich was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He is notably remembered for his act of insubordination where he disobeyed orders to rescue the 8th Ranger Company that was surrounded by Chinese forces​.

What is the heroic event Dave Teich is known for?

On April 24, 1951, during the Korean War, the 8th Ranger Company was ordered to move forward to gain intelligence. They soon found themselves surrounded by Chinese soldiers and stranded. Despite orders to move out, Teich chose to disobey his captain and led a platoon of four tanks to rescue the stranded Rangers​.

How many soldiers did Dave Teich save?

David Teich was instrumental in saving the lives of 65 U.S. Rangers from the 8th Ranger Company who had been surrounded by Chinese forces during the Korean War​.

How did Dave Teich disobey orders?

When the 8th Ranger Company was surrounded and in dire need of help, Dave Teich, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, proposed a rescue mission to his captain. However, his captain told him they had orders to move out and let the Rangers fight their own battles. Despite this, Teich chose to disobey his captain's orders and stayed behind to lead a rescue mission with four tanks​.

What happened to Dave Teich's superior who told him to abandon the Rangers?

There is no record of what happened to the superior who ordered Teich to abandon the Rangers. However, it's known that while Teich stayed behind to conduct the rescue mission, his captain and the rest of the U.S. tank battallion traveled south to safety​.

How did Dave Teich's actions impact the stranded soldiers?

Teich's actions had a significant impact on the stranded soldiers. His act of insubordination led to the rescue of 65 soldiers who would have likely been killed or captured by the Chinese forces. The surviving soldiers have expressed their gratitude towards Teich, with many referring to him as their savior​.

What was the reaction of the rescued soldiers towards Dave Teich?

The rescued soldiers were incredibly grateful for Teich's actions. Despite not knowing each other personally, some of the survivors still sent letters of thanks to him. James Herbert, the company commander of the 8th Ranger Company, referred to Teich as their savior​.

Final Reflections of Dave Teich's Actions During the Forgotten War

The tale of Dave Teich is a testament to the power of individual courage and conviction.

His decision to defy orders and save his fellow soldiers redefines our understanding of heroism. It wasn't about medals or commendations, but about looking out for his comrades, about embodying the very principles he vowed to protect and serve.

Teich's story serves as a potent reminder that amidst the chaos of war, the true measure of a soldier lies not just in their ability to fight, but in their willingness to put their lives on the line for their comrades.

This is the spirit that defines the U.S. military, a spirit of unyielding camaraderie, indomitable courage, and unwavering dedication to duty.

Let us know what you think of Dave Teich's heroic defiance of orders in the comments below!

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2 comments on “The Heroic Insubordination of Dave Teich: A Forgotten Tale of the Korean War”

  1. I believe he did the right thing. This VN, 20 year army vet would be proud to serve with him.

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