ALDERSON, TERRY HOWARD
ALDERSON, TERRY HOWARD
Rank / Branch:
SP4 E-4 U.S. ARMY
196th INFANTRY BRIGA
Date of Birth:
Awards & Decorations:
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TERRY HOWARD ALDERSON, SPECIALIST FOUR, U.S. ARMY, CRANE, CRANE COUNTY, TEXAS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Bronze Star with "V" device, Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Military Merit Medal
Terry Alderson was born in Longview, Texas and raised in Fort Worth, Texas He was the son of Charleen Gladys Calloway and Ross Dan Alderson. He was a 1961 graduate of Fort Worth Polytechnic High School. He attended Tarrant County Junior College and went to work as a salesman for a liquor distributor. In a business trip to Odessa, he met his wife to be, Patsy Cowden of Crane, Texas.
He married Patsy at the First Presbyterian Church in Odessa on June 17, 1967 and on the date of their marriage, he received his draft notice. The family didn't tell the newlyweds about the notice until they returned from their honeymoon to El Paso a week later. This was the second draft notice that Terry had received. He had failed a previous physical due to a bout with hepatitus and residuals from a whiplash injury from a car accident. He had been classified as 1-Y.
He reported for his physical on July 19, 1967 and passed. He was inducted in Fort Worth and was sent to Fort Polk, Louisana for basic training and infantry training. Patsy visited him at Fort Polk as often as she could during the five months he was there. After infantry training, Terry received his orders for Vietnam. Terry and Patsy spent his 2 week leave between Crane, Odessa and Fort Worth. Before Terry left for Vietnam on December 31, 1967, Patsy told Terry that they were going to be parents. Terry was really excited about the prospect of fatherhood.
In Vietnam, Terry was assigned to A Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade operating under the control of the 23rd (Americal) Division. He was reported Missing in Action following a firefight on May 6, 1968. Patsy was in her last month of pregnancy and she stuggled with two false labor episodes awaiting word on Terry's status. Finally the word came four days later that Terry had died in action.
The events leading up to Terry's death were described in the after action report. In early May of 1968, the North Vietnamese launched what has been called their "Tet II" offensive, striking 119 provincial and district capitals, military installations, and major cities including Saigon. Unlike Tet I, which was primarily a Viet Cong uprising, Tet II was almost entirely an NVA affair.
The battle of Dai Do actually began on April 30 with the ambush of a US Navy utility boat at the junction of the Bo Dieu and Cua Viet rivers by elements of the 320th NVA Division. Since Battalion Landing Team 2/4 was in the area, it was ordered to eliminate the threat to the crucial waterway.
Faced by three regiments of the 320th NVA Division, BLT 2/4 was forced to fall back to defensive positions north of the river, but they stopped the enemy attack. NVA reinforcements were turned back by men of the Army's 3rd Bn, 21st Infantry, Americal Division, which occupied blocking positions at Nhi Ha to the northeast.
The NVA attempt to open an invasion corridor into South Vietnam had failed. The "Magnificent Bastards" of 2/4 Marines and the 3/21st Infantry had saved the day, for if they had failed the NVA would have been free to overrun the major supply bases at Dong Ha and Quang Tri and the entire DMZ defenses would have been undermined. However, the cost had been high. The Marines and sailors suffered 89 dead and another 297 seriously wounded, while Army forces at Nhi Ha sustained 28 deaths and 130 wounded. But the enemy suffered even greater losses - not only did the NVA fail to achieve their objective, they also left 1,568 bodies on the battlefield.
Alpha Company, 3/21st Infantry, lost twelve men in the fighting on 06 May 1968, Terry was one of the twelve.
Terry was buried with full military honors in Fort Worth, Texas in the Shannon's Rose Hill Cemetery-Meditation Section on May 24, 1968. Four days later on May 28, 1968, his daughter Angelina Dawn Alderson was born.
After Terry's funeral, Patsy returned to Crane and began to make arrangements to raise her daughter. She moved to El Paso and enrolled and attended the University of Texas at El Paso where she earned her degree. Terry was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Meal with a "V" device for valor in the action that cost him his life. The Vietnamese government awarded him the Vietnam Military Merit Medal.
Terry's parents are now resting beside him. Terry's daughter, Angelina Dawn McLaughlin is now a grown woman, married and knows of her father only from the letters he wrote to her from Vietnam prior to her birth.
Shannon's Rose Hill Cemetery, Fort Worth, Texas