Charles Wesley Lindewald, Jr.
Master Sergeant, United States Army
Name: CHARLES W JR LINDEWALD
Date of Birth: 7/30/1938
Date of Casualty: 2/7/1968
Home of Record: LA PORTE, INDIANA
Branch of Service: ARMY
Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: QUANG TRI
Soldier killed in Vietnam to be buried
By Amanda Haverstick
Courtesy of the Michigan City, Indiana, News-Dispatch
After almost 36 years, a LaPorte Green Beret declared missing in action in Vietnam will return to the United States for burial in Arlington National Cemetery.
Master Sergeant Charles W. Lindewald of Detachment A-team 101 Company C, 5th Special Forces Group, U.S. Army, will finally join his other fallen comrades in a February 4, 2005, service.
The service for the remains of Lindewald and Kenneth Hanna, a heavy weapons specialist, will be held in the Arlington National Cemetery. A service will take place on February 3 at Murphy's Funeral Home in Arlington, Virginia, and a memorial service will be held in LaPorte at a later date.
Lindewald's sister, Mary Perez of Michigan City, said knowing her brother's remains have been found gives her and her family closure.
"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."
"I'm glad they found him and are burying him in Arlington and giving him a resting place," said Lindewald's uncle, Carl Lindewald of LaPorte.
Lindewald, born July 30, 1938, was killed during the battle of Lang Vei, which took place during the Tet Offensive.
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.
Another member of Lindewald's unit, Sergeant First Class Eugene Ashley, 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.
"There were remains identified as Charlie and remains identified as Kenneth Hanna and then there are joint remains" Perez said. "Next week there is to be a burial in Arlington for the joint remains. On April 29, 2005, I'm going to have Charlie's remains buried."
Lindewald, said Perez, was a career soldier and had served in Vietnam from the war's start in the early 1960s. "He had been over there, re-enlisted and went back there," she said. "He was quite a bit older than I was. I was about six years old when he went in the army."
Perez said Lindewald was 12 when she was born, but she recalled that he taught her how to ride a bike.
"When he was back on leave, he bought me my first bicycle and taught me how to ride it," she said.
Carl Lindewald described his nephew as good man and a hard worker. "He earned his own money, bought all his clothes and his own car," he said.
Lindewald and his uncle, who were close in age, were good buddies. "We'd go out and drink and talk and have a good time," Carl Lindewald "We were pretty close."
Perez said it was difficult for the family not knowing exactly what had happened. "The first couple of years, they were very difficult," she said. "(It was) hard on my father. It was really pretty devastating, I think."
Lindewald's return to the U.S. is part of a long effort of the Department of Defense to fulfill a promise to never leave a man behind.
Perez said the Army had been in contact with her family regarding her brother and even took a blood sample from her if a DNA match was needed.
"I knew in my heart that some day his remains would be found," she said.
Perez will attend services in Arlington. Vietnam Vets Inc. of LaPorte will also be represented at Arlington.
The Battle of Lang Vei is detailed in "Night
of the Silver Stars" by William R. Phillips.
By Bill Moor, Columnist
Courtesy of South Bend (Indiana) Tribune
As you read this, taps may be playing over Charlie Lindewald's remains.
The LaPorte, Indiana, native and Green Beret soldier was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington, D.C., this morning.
More than 37 years after his death in Vietnam.
"Charlie was serving his fifth tour in Vietnam, and some relatives have said he seemed to have a premonition that he might not be coming back," said Mary Perez, a Michigan City nurse and Charlie's younger sister.
He died on February 7, 1968, during the Battle of Lang Vei near the Laotian border.
Over the years, Perez has learned a great deal about this bloody fight.
"It was a fairly significant battle because it was the first time that North Vietnam used tanks," Perez said earlier this week. "Charlie, a master sergeant, was out on the perimeter with another soldier, Kenneth Hanna.
"Charlie was wounded, and Hanna pulled him into a bunker. The bunker then took a direct hit and collapsed."
Although both Lindewald and Hanna were listed as missing in action, they were presumed dead.
"We always wondered if he might still be alive -- maybe as a POW -- but that seemed very remote as the years went by," Perez added.
Their bodies were never found -- until September 2003, when scavengers uncovered both men's remains.
DNA tests didn't confirm the remains were those of Lindewald and Hanna until a year later.
"I received the call in November of 2004," Perez said. "It was startling news, but it did close a gap in my life."
After all those years.
Lindewald's and Hanna's remains were to be buried with full military honors this morning alongside other brave soldiers and sailors.
"There will be a casket with Charlie's identifiable remains and then a casket for the joint remains of him and Hanna," Perez said. "Hanna's family has already buried his identifiable remains back in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina."
Perez was to be at Arlington today with other relatives, including cousin Mary McDermott, of South Bend. A few members of his Special Forces unit also will be there. Perez's parents have long been deceased along with a middle brother, Tom.
"My three grown children are going, too," Perez said earlier in the week.
Her son, Stephen Bradshaw, recently served with the Army in Iraq.
"Although Stephen never met his uncle, he said he sometimes felt his presence, feeling that Charlie was watching over him," Perez said.
Charlie Lindewald would make a good guardian angel. He certainly was a courageous soldier -- earning a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts during his tours of duty. He was 29 years old when he died.
"He came home after one of his tours and bought me my first bike," said Perez, now 54 and born 12 years after her brother. "Then he taught me how to ride it."
Mary McDermott, a South Bend schoolteacher, can still visualize her cousin in his uniform. "He was so handsome in it, and I know he was the kind of soldier you wanted on your side."
The family again will share hugs and shed tears today as they did on March 19 when local veteran groups honored Lindewald with a ceremony in LaPorte.
"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," Perez said.
It has been a long time coming.
More than 37 years.
But on this morning, American hero Charlie Lindewald is finally where he belongs.
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, 10 June 2006
LINDEWALD, CHARLES WESLEY
LINDEWALD, CHARLES WESLEY JR