C. David DeLay Jr. received the Purple Heart and became a sergeant during his three combat tours with the Air Force in Vietnam, but is most widely known to veterans as “Dave Rabbit,” his underground radio persona in Saigon.
For 21 days in 1971, Mr. DeLay broadcast acid rock and entertained his brothers in arms from a pirate FM station he set up in a Saigon brothel.
After the war, Mr. DeLay returned to Richardson, where he settled into his family’s business, Trophies Inc. In 2006, he reprised his role as the shock jock via salty streaming audio over the Internet for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For the past three years, he was the public address announcer for Southern Methodist University football, and recently the Mustangs’ basketball games.
Mr. DeLay, 63, died Friday at Baylor Medical Center at Garland of acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas.
Services will be at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Restland Funeral Home’s Memorial Chapel. He will be buried in Restland Memorial Park.
Mr. DeLay loved getting attention and making people laugh, said his son Chandler DeLay of Wylie.
Born in Dallas, Mr. DeLay grew up in Richardson.
“He was very funny and friendly,” said Ted Dodson of Grapevine, a friend since their days at Richardson High School.
Mr. Dodson remembers his friend riding around Richardson with six people packed into his Corvair convertible.
Mr. DeLay joined the Air Force after graduating from Richardson High in 1967. He served as an inventory specialist and was honored for his outstanding contributions during the 30 days he volunteered for a security police assignment.
He was wounded when his supply convoy was attacked, his son said. Mr. DeLay did not realize he had been wounded until he was back at the base and preparing to shower. A friend spotted the hole in his leg.
“The adrenaline was going so high, he didn’t know he’d been shot,” his son said.
Mr. DeLay was trained as a radio studio engineer during his third tour in Vietnam. Resentment was growing among the troops, who wanted better access to current music and better news coverage of the war and conditions in Vietnam.
He set up his pirate station in the back room of a Saigon brothel, placing mattresses on the walls of his improvised studio to block the bawdy noise. Mr. DeLay had help from his buddies in the Air Force police, who managed to protect his operation for three weeks.
Mr. DeLay shut down the station when he felt his police friends were in danger of being discovered, he said on a website created for veterans and current service members.
“The same thing he did back in Vietnam was the same thing he was trying to do for the troops now: keeping their spirits up and letting them have a little something from back home,” his son said.
In addition to his son, Mr. DeLay is survived by another son, Dallas DeLay of Dallas; three sisters, Pamela Mullen, Francesca Gregory and Haven DeLay; and two brothers, John DeLay of Gun Barrel City, and Dobie DeLay of Holly Lake Ranch, Texas.http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/lake-highlands-richardson/headlines/20120124-david-delay-pirate-radio-dj-who-entertained-vietnam-troops-as-dave-rabbit-dies.ece