SP4 Theodore D. Bernard killed in action.

SP4 Theodore “Teddy” D. Bernard was Killed in Action on 3/15/68 in the Dinh Tuong region of Vietnam. His parents were never provided the details of his death and wanted answers. The men that served with Teddy stepped up and provided these vivid heartfelt personal memories of this hero and how he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
Rob & Mary,
I promised you details of the events of March 15, 1968, so here goes. We were on a typical Recon in Force operation. It was a bright, sunny afternoon as we crossed this huge, dry rice paddy. We were stretched out in a horizontal line. This huge paddy was sectioned off into several smaller paddies, about 50 yards by 50 yards. The dikes separating the smaller paddies were about 24 inches tall and the dikes around the entire perimeter were about 4 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. As usual our platoon was out front. As we were about to step over the last small dike Le Van Hong, Tiger Scout, spotted the VC dug in and camouflaged on the large dike right in front of us. (Hong was a former VC sergeant who saw the error of his ways and turned himself in , came to work with us. He was an invaluable asset. He saved a lot of lives that day.) Hong sounded the alert and we all hit the ground and started to return fire. During the first chaotic moments of the firefight Teddy evidently rose above the top of the dike and took a fatal hit. I promise you that Teddy did not suffer. Although I knew that Teddy was gone, I immediately called for our medic.. Doc Dooley made his way from several yards away, under intense fire, crawling on his belly to get to Teddy. I was hoping he could work his magic just one more time.
Because of the intense fire, we remained in that rice paddy for the rest of the afternoon. After dark, we moved back about 50 yards and set up our night defensive positions. We carried Teddy with us and at least two members of First Platoon stood watch over him the entire night. At first light we put Teddy on a Med Evac helicopter to begin his journey home to you.
I hope getting this on the anniversary of Teddy’s death will answer some of the questions you have had. It was just a fluke that I saw Tom’s post from 2015 on the Virtual Wall. I was torn as to whether I should respond after all this time. My wife insisted that it was my duty and responsibility that I try to give you some closure. If anyone has questions I will be honored to answer them.
Please give my regards to the rest of the Bernard family, especially Tom. The Bernard family is never far from my thoughts. I hope the extended family knows what tremendous individual Teddy was, especially the ones who never met him. I promise everyone in my family knows who Teddy Bernard was. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can help with anything.
Jim Day
Rob and family,
I met Teddy when I first arrived at the unit. He was a presence that meant many things to this young green troop in RVN.
First, he was a mentor, a 20 year old mentoring a 19 year old. Teddy arrived in RVN before me, and as a FNG [new guys who were often avoided by the older experienced troops, who just did not want to get close to anymore guys who might get hurt] looking for guidance, Teddy was there, joking, upbeat, with suggestions, admonitions and other advice to help, as well as patiently listening to the endless questions and comments I am sure I had. He had that ability to give you the business over a bonehead mistake, with a joke and a nudge, leaving you feeling a bit wiser in the ways of combat, but never belittled.
Second, he became a close friend over the next months. A lot of nights sitting on the deck of the ship after a mission, just talking about what was going on and how we felt about the whole business of war in RVN. We spoke of concerns about the next missions, what we would do when we got back to the world and other “deep” philosophical thoughts that only young men at war have. Like most of us, we didn’t share a lot of personal stuff, but became good friends in the here and now. It is a closeness that only those who have faced combat together will ever know. Knowing that the guy you are drinking a beer and joking around with, would lay down his life for you, and you for him. That is the greatest gift one soldier can give to another, one that you will never duplicate in life. Teddy gave that to me, and I am sure he knew the feeling was reciprocal.
When I returned to the U.S. I tried to reach out to his family as I did with the families of a few of the other guys who didn’t make it. It was harder to find people pre-internet. After a couple of contacts, I didn’t try any more. It was a lack of courage on my part, I guess. I don’t think there was a week or month that went by all of these years that I didn’t think of Teddy and some of the others. About 25 years ago, I met a young [to me] man who was having dinner with some friends of mine who was from Mexico, Maine. He knew your family and told me about a monument in the park in Mexico, with Teddy’s name and others who had made that ultimate sacrifice. Once again, the pain of that terrible day slammed into me. At the time I was getting ready to move and once again, I did not reach out. For that, I still regret.
Teddy gave me a nickname that, within a small circle of friends from the combat days, is still with me. When I get together with this small group from time to time, I hear that nickname and the memory of Teddy comes back.
Know that Teddy was a good man. A friend and a mentor in a difficult time in our young lives. You can be proud of that legacy of him as a man and as a soldier.
I want to wish you and your family the very best and thank you belatedly for sharing our good friend with us, even for that short time.
Best regards,
Oscar J Berven
aka: Digget
Dear Rob and Mary,
Thank you for your letter. Teddy was fiercely proud to be from Mexico, Maine. He had it printed in big block letters across the front on his helmet. It was interesting to learn about his upbringing and some of his family. I can’t imagine having 17 siblings. I grew up in Mobile, Alabama, so I can appreciate the “aroma” from the paper mills. We had 2 big ones in town.
It is impossible to comprehend what thoughts raced through Mrs. Bernard’s mind when she saw that big car pull into the driveway. After Viet Nam I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. One week I was selected to be the Notification Officer for central Texas. If anyone was KIA that lived within 200 miles of Fort Hood, I had to notify the family. I tried everything I could to get out of that duty, but, they wouldn’t allow it. Thankfully, I didn’t have to knock on any mother’s door.
Memorial Day is a very somber time for a lot of us. I think of Teddy every day, but, especially on days like this. On Memorial Day I always post on Facebook a tribute to Teddy and 2 other friends. I have talked to several of our Charlie Company brothers since we first connected. They were all pleased with our conversations. I asked them to reach out to you, but, they all say that they just don’t know what to say. I will continue to encourage them to contact you.
Let me know if I can ever be of assistance to any of the Bernard family.
Jim Charlie 1-6
Rob and Mary,
I am happy to share with your family my experience with Teddy. To answer your questions, the Purple Heart was for Teddy’s fatal injury. He had not been injured before. After all these years I don’t remember specifics of why he was recommended for the Bronze Star w/V. I do remember it was big fire fight at night and Teddy was everywhere.
Robbie Martin
The Giant Killer book and Facebook page honors these amazing heroes making sure their incredible stories of sacrifice are never forgottem. God Bless Teddy Bernard and God Bless our Vets!๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ

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