"It was our turn I guess. That's how we were brought up back then," he said.
Once his two older brothers had gone over, Dan decided it was his turn.
"It was our duty, that's the way I look at it," he said. "I was proud to be in the service.
"When you're young, you're dumb," he said.
He enlisted when he was 17 and spent six months stationed in Germany until he was old enough to go to Vietnam.
"I always wanted to go in the Army, ever since I was a kid," he said. "I couldn't let them be better than me. You know how siblings are."
Neither brother said they regret their decision to enlist. Both say it was an incredibly difficult time that had a dramatic impact on their lives.
"We didn't know (about Agent Orange)," he said. "We just thought it was raining all the time."
The Veterans Administration recognizes certain health problems associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs' website. Among them are Ischemic heart disease, also known as "hardening of the arteries," which is characterized by a reduced supply of blood to the heart, that leads to chest pain.
"I just attributed all my health problems to hard living and age," Dan said when he first became sick years ago.
He said returning to regular life after his tour was hard because of the highly negative attitude toward the politically charged war.
"Today, everyone is heroes (when they return from war). We were baby killers," he said. "If they had let the generals run the war, we might have won it. But they let the politicians run it."
"Back then, you were just like a replacement," his brother said. "You go over, come back, go over, come back. No fanfare or nothing, you just go back to what you were doing. No parades and all that."
"War isn't what it's cracked up to be, believe me," he said. "When I got my first taste of combat, I remember saying to myself, 'What the hell am I doing here?' "
Dan remains active in veterans organizations such the Dewey Lowman American Legion Post in Arbutus and the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Ellicott City.
Steve prefers to keep that time of his life in the past.
"I don't talk about it much," he said. "I don't dwell on it, I try not to."