Third Battalion, Fifth Marines
Graphic by Vic Vilionis
This tribute to Terry Householter, killed June 23, 1969, friend to Paul O'Connell and Grady Rainbow, comes from Grady's memoirs, elsewhere on this site. Immediately following is a remembrance from Sheldon Walle, a high school friend of Terry's. And then another from former Marine Ken Campbell, who also went to school with Terry (reproduced from Ken's note on the message board).
Lance Corporal Terry Householter was from Concordia Kansas. He had run track at the University of Kansas and was coached by Jim Ryan, the famous miler. Terry had spent several months as the Company Commanders radio operator, (not uncommon for grunts to fill this job, MOS 2500 radiomen were scarce), before he came to 1st platoon as my squad leader, (callsign Mike 1 Bravo).
Terry and I hit it off perfectly, we both had lived not that far apart and even listened to the same radio station growing up (KOMA in Oklahoma City). Terry was with me the day on road security when we lost Smith and Murphey. We were the best of friends.
On Operation Pipestone Canyon, Terry could have requested to stay in the rear, he had less than two months left in country. He didn't. Our Company led a sweep into the Que Son Mountains chasing the NVA that had escaped the Goi Noi Island area during the operation. I was walking point, as usual, as we started up the riverbed toward the top of a large mountain. Breaking through the brush I found myself in a large open area with huts, cooking fires and a whole lot of NVA soldiers. I opened fire on automatic and began charging toward the camp, the company broke through in immediate support and we sweep the entire area quickly. That's when we discovered we had landed in a regimental base camp and we were now surrounded.
To make a long story short, (I'll maybe write it down later), we were pinned down without resupply or support for 14 days. We eventually fought our way out, destroying the camp in the process. On the way down the mountain we encountered several ambushes, our squad had rotated off point and I was walking trace, (tailend charlie we called it), for the squad with about 30 meters back to the rest of the company. I heard heavy fire ahead and rounds began to tear up the jungle around my position, I took cover in a depression in the trail. After a few minutes I heard someone crashing through the bush toward me, it was our platoon Corpsman carrying Terry over his shoulder. I remember Terry was looking straight at me and his hand was hanging down, I saw it had been hit by a bullet and the little finger was almost severed. I called out to him and told him to hang on we would get him out. The Corpsman, shook his head and crashed down beside me, all he said was "He's gone." He had tears in his eyes. He started telling me the front squad and two gun teams were pinned down by a cross-fire ambush and they were catching it hard. He said the ambush had opened up when Terry reached for the radio handset to call the CP. The enemy knew then he was the unit leader, and took him first. I took my hand and tried to close Terry's eyes, it didn't work like in the movies. Doc got up and continued down toward the company CP, I saw that Terry had been shot several times in the back and side. I lost it. I was carrying extra ammo for the gun teams (we all carried extra for the crew-served weapons), so I got up and moved forward. I can never remember being so mad in my life, my head pounded and my eyes seemed clouded or misty. I only remember yelling and screaming as I threw the ammo to the first gun team I found, then I started to run forward into the jungle brush firing on automatic. I can still see the tan uniforms in front of me, and recall using my bayonet twice, that's about all. Someone grabbed me and yelled "It's over, dammit!! Quit fighting and get down!" The ambush was broken. The rest of the riflemen had gotten up when I ran past and followed me into the brush, we killed quite a few I think. I remember several of us threw-up afterward, either from stress or what we saw.
Terry Householder was posthumously promoted to Corporal from Lance Corporal upon his death. For his gallant service in Viet Nam he had received the Bronze Star Medal w/ "V" for valor, the Navy Commendation Medal w/ "V" for valor and the Purple Heart Medal. At the time of his death he had 29 days left to serve on his tour of duty. I'll always miss him, a part of me died when he did, a good decent part.
Tribute to Terry Householter
I attended high school at Minneapolis, Kansas (graduated in 68') and ran track
against Terry. I never once beat him as he was amazingly fast; I could stay with him until
about the last 20 yards in the 100 and about the last 50 in the 220 yard dash. He had a
gear I never could find.
A quick story; it was 1966 at the Abilene (Kansas) Relays. Terry was jogging past
the pole vaulting pit when a pole vaulter fell short and landed to the side of the pit. As
he came down his foot landed squarely on Terry's foot. In those days, tracks were either
dirt or cinder which required long, sharp spikes in your track shoes. At least two of the
pole vaulter's spikes went right through the top of Terry's foot. I hate to admit it but
at the time I thought, hey, maybe I can finally take first place. Not only did Terry go
ahead and run that day, he set a state record in the 100; as memory serves me he ran a
9.7; and once again, I came in second.
By Ken Campbell:
I went to high school with Terry. He was a halfback, I was the
fullback. I ran the 2nd leg of the 880 relay, Terry was the anchor. Concordia won the state track meet in 1965, 1966, and
1967, thanks to Terry. In 1967, he won the 100, the 220, and the 440. I graduated in May 1966, Terry graduated in May 1967.