Reflections from the River

A veteran honored

November 16, 2022 Bill Enyart

Master Sergeant, US Army (ret) David R. Enyart 

Master Sergeant David R. Enyart was born in Tuscola, Illinois, on August 2, 1951, to William L. Enyart, Sr., and Alta (Dallas) Enyart. His father was a US Navy veteran.

“Top” as he was known to all for his service as a First Sergeant in the Big Red One, the US Army’s famed 1st Infantry Division, attended Tuscola grade schools. He graduated from Sandwich, Illinois, High School, in 1969, where he was a varsity letterman in football, wrestling and track. 

He enlisted in the Army in 1971, during the Viet Nam War. After infantry training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to the Third Brigade, First Cavalry (Air Mobile) Division in Viet Nam, where he earned the Combat Infantryman and Air Assault Badges. He was medically evacuated from Viet Nam after months of front-line combat duty.

Upon discharge from the Army, he was awarded a Veterans’ Administration disability pension for his combat duty related injuries. He attended Eastern Illinois University, but after a year at EIU, he found he missed the camaraderie of the Army and waived his VA pension to return to a soldier’s life, reenlisting in the Army in 1974.

Top served in every enlisted infantryman’s leadership position from squad leader through company first sergeant. He declined an opportunity to become a commissioned officer as he believed he had more of an impact on training and mentoring young soldiers as an NCO than he could as an officer. 

He was a consummate military professional, training new enlistees as infantrymen at Fort Benning, “The Home of the Infantry”, to his final assignment at Niagara University, where he served as the Non-commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) detachment. 

Among his other assignments were duty in the Third Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), Arlington, Virginia, where he performed funeral honors and VIP escort duty at Arlington National Cemetery; the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; First Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas; Fourth Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado; and Germany; always serving in infantry leadership positions.

Upon military retirement, he drove an over the road semi-truck for Schneider Trucking for five years, where he enjoyed seeing the beautiful country which he spent over twenty years defending. He subsequently attended Western Kentucky University, graduating with a BA in English. His writing skills and combat veteran status earned him distinction as a warrior/poet.

He continued his service mentoring, training and educating the young people of our nation, taking a position at Lincoln’s Challenge Academy, Rantoul, Illinois, in 2001. Lincoln’s Challenge Academy is a high school completion program for youths who have dropped out of high school and are at risk of delinquent behavior operated by the Illinois National Guard as a military style secondary school. He taught the US Constitution, history and English there until his retirement in 2015.

He was an active member of TK Martin VFW Post #10009, American Legion Post #27, both of Tuscola, and the Murdoch Fire Department, where he served a period as chief.

Top’s leadership, mentorship and guidance impacted generations of young Americans and represents the ideals of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. His devotion to his fellow soldiers is best summed up in a line on his civilian resume, where under the sub-heading of “Accomplishments” he wrote:

“As a point man on patrol in Viet Nam, I brought back every man every time.”

A soldier’s soldier.