Dale Raebel was born in 1938 in Milbank, South Dakota. He entered flight training as a Naval Aviation Cadet on May 18, 1961, at NAS Pensacola, Florida, and was commissioned an Ensign and designated a Naval Aviator on February 10, 1963, at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. ENS Raebel attended P2V Neptune Patrol Replacement training with VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, from February to July 1963, and then served as a P2V-5 and P2V-7 pilot with VP-7 at NAS Jacksonville from July 1963 to August 1966. His next assignment was as a flight instructor with VT-9 at NAS Meridian, Mississippi, from August 1966 to May 1968, followed by Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he received his Bachelor's degree in Engineering Science in June 1970. LCDR Raebel transitioned to the A-7 Corsair II with VA-174 from June 1970 to March 1971, and then served as an A-7 pilot with VA-37 at NAS Cecil Field, Florida, and later flying off the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-60) from March 1971 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 17, 1972. After spending 225 days in captivity, he was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, and then attended refresher flight training with VA-45 at NAS Cecil Field from August to November 1973. After transitioning to the A-7E, he remained as an instructor pilot with VA-174 at Cecil Field from November 1973 to June 1975, and again served with VA-37 from June 1975 to January 1978. His next assignment was as Weapons Officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CV-41) from January 1978 to September 1979, followed by refresher training in the A-7E with VA-174 from October 1979 to June 1980. Capt Raebel served as Executive Officer of VA-83 at NAS Cecil Field from July 1980 to February 1981, and then as Commanding Officer of VA-105 at NAS Cecil Field from February 1981 to May 1982. He attended National War College in Washington, D.C., from August 1982 to June 1983, and then served as the A-7 Program Coordinator and later as Head of the Weapons Requirements Branch on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare in the Pentagon from June 1983 to June 1986. Capt Raebel's next assignment was with the Office of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence from July 1986 to August 1989, followed by service as Head of the Congressional Correspondence Branch with the Naval Military Personnel Command from August 1989 to May 1991. His final assignment was as Assistant Chief of Naval Personnel for Management Support in the Bureau of Naval Personnel from May 1991 until his retirement from the Navy on March 1, 1993. Dale is married to the former Patricia Chester of Jacksonville, Florida, and they have two children.
His Distinguished Flying Cross Citation reads:
For heroism while participating in aerial flight as a pilot of jet aircraft attached to attack squadron THIRTY-SEVEN embarked in USS SARATOGA (CVA-60). On 31 July 1972, Lieutenant Commander RAEBEL was leader of a bomber element in a twenty-nine plane coordinated attack against a major shipyard in Southeast Asia. Despite numerous surface-to-air missiles and intense anti-aircraft fire, he skillfully maneuvered his element to the optimum position from which to attack. He then led his element in a daring dive bombing run which placed all of the element's ordnance directly on target. Post strike photography revealed over 30 buildings, a dock, a slipway and numerous barges totally destroyed. Lieutenant Commander RAEBEL's courageous leadership and aerial skill reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.