Soldier killed in Vietnam to be buried
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.
By Amanda Haverstick
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 overun 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.
© Michigan City, Indiana, News-Dispatch
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