Charles S. Gaede was born in Olney, Illinois in 1944 and he grew up on a farm in Edwards County near West Salem. In his first five school years, he was one of four students in his class in Shelby School, a one-room country school. He moved up, attending the West Salem School through 9th grade, and then Edwards County High School in Albion, where he graduated with the class of 1962.
He enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and in October 1964 joined the Marine Corps Platoon Leader Course. He graduated from the university in January 1967, was commissioned Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserve on February 10, 1967, and entered active duty May 31st. He completed Basic School in November and was assigned to the Infantry. He had graduated in the top ten percent of the class, and was augmented to the Regular Marine Corps. He was immediately ordered to the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam as an individual replacement and he arrived there, in-country, the following month.
Lt. Gaede was assigned as Platoon Leader, 3rd Platoon, Company H, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines on December 14, 1967. He describes what was going on from that time forward, The battalion was in an area south of Da Nang along the coast, conducting saturation patrols for several weeks after my arrival. In January we were sent to do convoy security along the route from Da Nang to Phu Bai and that 14-day mission was still going on when TET-68 began. Bridges were blown on Route 1 and 3rd Platoon had to be moved down the coast by boat to get back to our home area of operations. Saturation patrols then resumed with us operating southwest of Da Nang. The platoons worked independently, moving into an assigned area and conducting patrols for four or five days from a platoon patrol base before returning to the company base camp for one day preparing to go out again. In late February 1968, Company H was assigned an area of operations southwest of Da Nang along the Song Yen.
On February 29th, I was on a patrol with one squad from my platoon and we were also accompanied by the Company Commander and First Sergeant. On the way back in to the Platoon Patrol Base the point man, PFC Dennis Roark tripped a Chicom grenade booby-trap and was severely wounded in his feet and ankles. I was the fourth man back from him and took a piece of shrapnel in the calf of my left leg. PFC Roark was medevaced to the United States. I spent four or five days in the hospital at Da Nang (1st Medical Battalion), and then was returned to the unit but was held back at the battalion base camp for some time as the wound was healing.
For the next month the battalion participated in clearing operations east of Hue City and a training, inspection, and rehabilitation program leading up to Operation Pegasus in April 1968, that being the clearing of Route 9 and the relief of Khe Sanh. The road from Ca Lu to Khe Sanh was cleared by units from the Armys 1st Cavalry Division operating on the north side of Route 9 while other Marine units were clearing North Vietnamese Army (NVA) elements from the south side of the road. When Route 9 was opened in mid-April, the 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines were heli-lifted in near Khe Sanh and began operations securing the road and clearing remaining NVA from the surrounding area. After Khe Sanh was closed in July 1968, Lt. Gaedes unit was in the Cam Lo area, between Khe Sanh and Dong Ha. On August 15th during a contact with a small NVA unit he was wounded for the second time, being hit in the upper arm from the near miss of an RPG round. The wound seemed to be minor, but it became infected. He was sent back to the hospital in Dong Ha where a rock was removed from the wound and he was kept for three days before being returned to duty. But, shortly afterward he was ordered to Okinawa.
He served with the Third Force Service Regiment in Okinawa from September 23, 1968 to July 25, 1969, and then volunteered to extend and was returned to Vietnam and reassigned to his old unit. From July 30, 1969 to December 10, 1969, 1st Lt Gaede served successively as Executive Officer then as Commanding Officer, Company H, 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines, and finally as the Embarkation Officer for Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. The 3rd Marines stood down from combat on September 21st and on October 1, 1969 the 3rd Marine Regiment embarked for Okinawa. He says, Two months later, in December 1969, after two years, almost to the day, I rotated back to the U.S.
Upon returning to the Continental United States, he was assigned to the Marine Corps Support Center, Barstow, California in January 1970, where he served as Commanding Officer of Material Company, Headquarters Battalion, until November 1970. He was promoted to Captain during his time at Barstow, and after attending the Naval Justice Course at Camp Pendleton was assigned to the JAG Office for a few months. He closed out his time at Barstow assigned to the Special Services Office and while there opened up a recreation area at Big Bear Mountain.
Captain Gaede left Barstow in February 1972 for his next assignment, the Amphibious Warfare School at Quantico, Virginia where he attended his Career Officers Course. After graduating in June 1972 he remained at Quantico, assigned to the Officer Candidate School where he served successively as Executive Officer of Companies B and C, as the S-3 Operations Officer, and as Commanding Officer of Headquarters and Service Company.
In 1974 he resigned his commission to return to school and was discharged. He attended university in Springfield, Missouri and, while working toward two masters degrees there, he was re-commissioned as a Captain in the Marine Corps Reserve and served as Commanding Officer, Company M (-), 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment from October 1977 to October 1979. After graduation, he took a teaching position in Waxahachie, Texas.
While teaching in Waxahachie from 1979 to 1989, Charles was working on a Doctorate Degree at North Texas State University in Denton; and was serving as a Major in various billets of the 14th Marine Regiment (an artillery regiment). Among those assignments were: S-4 Logistics Officer for Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, then Commanding Officer, Target Acquisition Battery.
He next worked for the Irving Independent School District until 1991, and then was employed by the University of Texas at Arlington where he worked in educational measurement and testing. During his years at UT Arlington, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, USMCR, and served as a Mobilization Operational Readiness Deployment Test Inspector with Detachment 6, 4th Marine Division, and finally was S-1 Personnel Officer for the 8th Reserve District Headquarters until April 1998 at which time he retired from the Marine Corps Reserve after more than 29 years of commissioned service.
In 1998, Doctor Charles Gaede moved from UT Arlington to the University of Texas at Austin, where for the next nine years he was employed in the Measurement and Evaluation Center, and where he retired in August 2007 as an Associate Director in the Division of Instructional Innovation and Assessment.
Charles Gaede is active in several veterans group initiatives, primarily those related to his Vietnam service. Today, he describes his favorite Vietnam charitable work, saying, I have done some fund-raising for Peace Trees Vietnam, Inc., of Seattle, Washington, a non-governmental organization authorized to do work in Quang Tri Province. Two Community Libraries have been built for Montagnard minority children, one at the base of hill 861 west of Khe Sanh built in 2005, and the other built in 2007 on Route 9 between Long Vei and Lao Bao. What I am working on now is raising funds to add to both libraries, to provide each with toilets and a separate room for battered women that is to be stocked with food and kitchen utensils.
Since their beginning in 1995, he also has organized reunions for his fellow Vietnam veterans of 3rd Platoon, Company H, and hosted their gathering in Austin in 2005. Since then they have had reunions every other year, the most recent being in May 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee, where the veterans honored their Corpsman, Roy Doc Moon. And, Chuck Gaede followed that up by submitting an article published in the December 2011 issue of Leatherneck magazine.
The second thing he did after retiring in 2007 (after buying his Harley motorcycle) was to become more active in local area veterans organizations. In the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) local chapter he is First Vice President for Programs. In VFW Post 3377 in Manchaca he is currently the Judge Advocate and also chairs several important committees. He has been a Life Member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart for ten years, and this month Chapter 1919 and PATRIOT BULLETIN proudly salute Patriot Charles S. Gaede.