Charles Terry Cadenbach

Charles Cadenbach

My name is Charles Terry Cadenbach and I have always gone by Terry because my dad was also Charles.

In January 1968 I went to jump school at Ft. Benning. On the last jump something happen with the wind and I dropped straight down for about 50 feet.  My butt hit the ground and I heard my ankle snap.  You had to walk or march on graduation so I hobbled and graduated.  The next day I went to sick call and was told my records had already been sent to Ft. Bragg s they couldn’t help me.

The next day I arrived at Bragg, determined to start Training Group and so it began.  At the end of March, I hurt my ankle and went on sick call.  After xrays the Doc said you shattered your right ankle but it looks like it’s healing on it’s own so he won’t mess with it.

I went through 11B/11C training, got recycled and graduated.  We kept bugging out instructors about what was some of the secret groups in Nam that nobody wanted to talk about.  He said wait till we get there and we would have a chance to find out.   Several weeks before graduation a bunch of us pitched in and send a dozen roses to Mrs. Alexander at the Pentagon, requesting we all get orders to Vietnam. It worked and the end of August 68 we got our orders for Vietnam. 

Upon arrival at 5th Group HQ we spent a week filling sandbags to get acclimated to the heat, then we spent a week in-country training on Hon Tre island which was reputed t be an NVA R&R Site.  When we returned to Group HQ we were given the “opportunity to volunteer for a super secret project with a very high casualty rate, so we all volunteered. 

Got sent to CCN Da Nang  and after we were briefed in a general sort of way and signed all the requisite forms, we got our orders. Mine were for what was then called CCN FOB-2 Kontum. 

When I arrived at Kontum I met Bob Howard who was the supply Sergeant and drew all my gear.  I was told I was assigned to Co. B of the Hatchet Force, which was located a few miles down the road at a place called the Yard Camp.  Within a week I went on my first SLAM mission with both companies of the Hatchet Force, where i earned my CIB.

During the entire Month of December I was sent to Leghorn relay site.  Other then being tuned in to the teams on the ground, it got to be rather mundane, until the night of December 17.  The first rocket hit the corner of the ammo bunker and cut the coax cable to the radio.  It took a while but I finally was able to find the short whip antenna and I was able to make contact with my Friend Alan Farrell who was at Hickory relay site.  Alan was about to raise Moonbean and was able to get air support, although we had no targets.  The other American with me was incapacitated due to malaria and I was medevaced out the next day when they sent some folk to repair the coax and for some reason they brought me a Remington 700 BDL Sniper Rifle.

 For the rest f the month we were being attached every day and I leaned very quickly how to work air strikes. One day we had about a hundred NVA in the open on the little plateau below us,  Unfortunately for them there was a flight of A1’s returning from a mission and they happened to have a load of napalm which they were glad to drop. End of troop in the open. 

One day I was playing around with the sniper rifle and I observed an NVA officer watching us through binoculars. Remington 700 1, NVA 0.

In January 1969, on the extraction from a mission, we took 37mm fire and the chopper was hit in the transmission. The Huey went onto auto rotation and spiraled into the ground.  Nobody was seriously injured and the chase ship landed and immediately picked us up.  I placed all the C4 I had (4 lbs) and we got out of there and were able to see the Cobra gunships doing their thing.

On March 25, 1969 , we were on a mission we were on a mission in Lima 6 to find a truck stop that a recon team located.  We hear the trucks stopping a the bottom of the hill and all night long, then a while later start up and leave.  IN the morning when we went down the hill we were immediately in contact.  An NVA popped up about 30 feet from me and we both shot the same time.  His bullet hit me in the left ankle. My bullet hit the bolt of his SKS.  He threw it down and tried to hide in a bunker but he suffered a fatal wound to the head.  1st Lt. Sherman was KIA and they medevaced he and I out. I was sent to Pleiku where they took the bullet out and then I spent a month in Japan to heal up.  When it came time to be released they had me fill out a form of where I wanted to be assigned.  Because I said Vietnam they made me see a shrink who signed off on it.  I still have the form. 

In May, we were on the one and only time I went into Cambodia.  We were socked in by the weather for a week.  During one firefight my glasses came off.  When the shooting was over, I wiped the seat off my forehead and it was all blood.  The bullet had taken the corner of my glasses and creased the side of my eyebrow. Field expedient fix.

Hotel 9 and Oscar 8 were the two places people were not standing in line to go into.  We had one of the most intense firefights ever in Hotel 9.  Never did find out what as going on that AO that made it so hairy.

In September of 1969 in some long forgotten AO, I took a round in the side, Again a nice scar but a battlefield fix.  Our medics were top Notch.

I went home on extension leave during November 1969 and promptly brought a brand new Corvette convertible. When I returned to Vietnam I learned that my friend and roommate, Wayne Anderson had been killed in Oscar 8.  In January 196, we when on one of the roadblock operations. I came to oversee the resupply mission.  While I was at the FOB packing supplies, Col. McGowan told me he had rejected my extension request because I was running out of luck.  Later I realized I was a victim of the draw-down.

I returned to the states in April 1970 and was assigned to Co Cof the 7th SFG. They would not let me be on a team because of my shattered ankle.  In October 1971 they rebuilt my ankle and it got infected in the operating room and after 3-1/2 months in the hospital, I was told to start processing out because I would never be fit for duty.  Two days later I was out of the Army.