Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TFH 6/13: SP5 John J. Kedenburg, USA

United States Army Special Forces - the "Green Berets" - have training, leading, and serving with foreign military forces, be they organized or not, as one of their prime missions on the battlefield. When they fight, they often fight as if they were one of the natives, showing them the same loyalty and tenacity that any soldier would show his comrades from his own nation and service. Green Berets daily live up to the Special Forces' motto: De Oppresso Liber - "To Free the Oppressed".

John James Kedenburg was born in Brooklyn, New York on July 31, 1946. He enlisted in the United States Army in 1965 and by June of 1968 was serving as an advisor to a group of native South Vietnamese citizen soldiers. When the patrol he was a member of was surrounded by a much larger force, Kedenburg took command and did everything in his power to save the Vietnamese he was with, including giving up his place on a rescue helicopter to save another. His indefatigable courage was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor.


Rank and organization: Specialist Fifth Class, U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces. place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 13 June 1968. Entered service at: Brooklyn, N.Y. Born: 31 July 1946, Brooklyn, N.Y. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp5c. Kedenburg, U.S. Army, Command and Control Detachment North, Forward Operating Base 2, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), distinguished himself while serving as advisor to a long-range reconnaissance team of South Vietnamese irregular troops. The team's mission was to conduct counter-guerrilla operations deep within enemy-held territory. prior to reaching the day's objective, the team was attacked and encircled by a battalion-size North Vietnamese Army force. Sp5c. Kedenburg assumed immediate command of the team which succeeded, after a fierce fight, in breaking out of the encirclement. As the team moved through thick jungle to a position from which it could be extracted by helicopter, Sp5c. Kedenburg conducted a gallant rear guard fight against the pursuing enemy and called for tactical air support and rescue helicopters. His withering fire against the enemy permitted the team to reach a preselected landing zone with the loss of only 1 man, who was unaccounted for. Once in the landing zone, Sp5c. Kedenburg deployed the team into a perimeter defense against the numerically superior enemy force. When tactical air support arrived, he skillfully directed air strikes against the enemy, suppressing their fire so that helicopters could hover over the area and drop slings to be used in the extraction of the team. After half of the team was extracted by helicopter, Sp5c. Kedenburg and the remaining 3 members of the team harnessed themselves to the sling on a second hovering helicopter. Just as the helicopter was to lift them out of the area, the South Vietnamese team member who had been unaccounted for after the initial encounter with the enemy appeared in the landing zone. Sp5c. Kedenburg unhesitatingly gave up his place in the sling to the man and directed the helicopter pilot to leave the area. He then continued to engage the enemy who were swarming into the landing zone, killing 6 enemy soldiers before he was overpowered. Sp5c. Kedenburg's inspiring leadership, consummate courage and willing self-sacrifice permitted his small team to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy and escape almost certain annihilation. His actions reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

Specialist Kedenburg rests in peace near his home in the Long Island National Cemetery, Farmingdale, New York. His name appears on Panel 57W, Line 17 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

The 5th Special Forces Group continues to satisfy their motto today across the globe from their home base of Fort Cambpell, Kentucky

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