BY DUANE ALLEN VACHON, PH.D. Recently I was speaking with a friend from LA Porte Indiana who asked me if there were any Medal of Honor recipients from La Porte. I was pretty sure there weren’t any however I did some research and confirmed that was the case. That does not mean there aren’t any heroes from La Porte. This article tells the story of one of those heroes.
After 36 years of missing in action in Vietnam, Master Sergeant Charles W. Lindewald of Detachment A-team 101 Company C, 5th Special Forces Group, U.S. Army, was buried in a February 4, 2005, service in Arlington National Cemetery. He was killed during the battle of Lang Vei, which took place during the Tet Offensive.
After almost four decades there is some closure for Mary Perez, the younger sister of Master Sergeant Charles W. Lindewald. Lindewald, a LaPorte native, was declared missing in action following an attack during the Vietnam War in 1968. His body was never found. That was until November 2003, when a U.S. government excavation team recovered the remains of the 29-year-old.
Contacted a year after the remains were retrieved by the U.S. Army, Perez, a private care nurse who lives in Michigan City, imme¬diately felt sad, “but relief because it was a sense of closure. There was a part of me that believed he would be found. I had a feeling, call it intuition.” “I think it’s wonderful,” said Mary, 54, the youngest of three children, who grew up in LaPorte. “It was a relief and joyous to me that he would be laid to rest and people would know about him.”
Her older brother, U.S. Army Master Sergeant Charles Lindewald, a La Porte native, was declared missing in action following an attack during the Vietnam War in 1968. His body was never found. That was until November 2003, when a U.S. government excavation team recovered the remains of the 29-year-old. “I think it’s wonderful,” said Mary, 54, the youngest of three children, who grew up in LaPorte. “It was a relief and joyous to me that he would be laid to rest and people would know about him.”
“We knew he had been wounded. We presumed he was dead, but there still is that element of wondering,” she said. “I feel a great sense of relief that we know for sure and that we have closure on this.”
Carl Lindewald of LA Porte, Lindewalds uncle, said, “I’m glad they found him and are burying him in Arlington and giving him a resting place,” Carl described his nephew as a good man and a hard worker. “He earned his own money, bought all his clothes and his own car,” he said.
Lindewald, born July 30, 1938, had he lived he would be celebrating his 75th birthday this month. He would most likely be surrounded by children and grandchildren and having a cold beer with his uncle, Carl.
On Feb. 6, 1968, a Special Forces Camp near Lang Vei, Vietnam, came under attack by enemy forces. Lindewald sustained severe injuries to his chest and abdomen. A statement from the Army said Lindewald and the rest of the detachment “fought bravely and defended their positions for 11 grueling hours.”
“Another Green Beret carried him into a bunker,” said Perez, who added the bunker was hit by artillery and both men were buried together. The camp was eventually overrun by Viet Cong forces.
Sergeant First Class Eugene Ashley, a member of Lindewald’s unit earned the Medal of Honor for leading a counterattack back into the camp allowing U.S. and coalition troops to escape. Unfortunately, Lindewald was not among the rescued soldiers.
In November 2003, after a long search, an excavation team recovered remains and personal effects of fallen soldiers. Later, those remains and personal effects were positively identified as belonging to Lindewald.
Lindewald’s return to the U.S. is part of a long effort of the Department of Defense and the JPAC team based at joint base Pearl Harbor/Hickham to fulfill a promise to never leave a man behind.
On April 29, 2005 Lindewald was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery at a service attended by his sister and her children.
After the service Perez said “I am just so touched by all the support that the veterans have given us and how dedicated and committed they have been in wanting to honor Charlie in the proper way,” .
It has been a long time coming. More than 37 years, but on the morning of April 29, 2005 an American hero Charlie Lindewald was finally home where he belongs.
On the 30th of this month the 75th anniversary of Lindewald’s birthday, if you can spare a few moments, have a cold beer, and reflect for a moment on Lindewald and the many others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Master Sergeant Charles Lindewald was the recipient of the following medals, the Silver Star is the second highest medal awarded for bravery by the U.S. Government.
Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Army Presidential Unit Citation
Bronze Star V Device
Lindewald is at home and at rest in the ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY: SECTION 60 SITE 8243
The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.
Author: Duane Vachon
Duane A. Vachon PhD has been a licensed clinical psychologist for over thirty years. He belongs to the order of Secular Franciscans and is a life member of the Guild of Pastoral Psychology. After living almost 40 years as an expatriate, he now writes from his home in Hawaii. He has several books published and has written hundreds of articles on social justice and spiritual issues. His Doctoral thesis on ethics has set the standard at many universities. Reach Dr. Vachon at firstname.lastname@example.org
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