CHARLES JOHN FEDDEMA
Branch: U. S. Army
Rank: Spec. 4
Status: Killed in action
Date of Service: Vietnam War
Home Town: Itasca
1. Charles Feddema at Fort Riley in 1966 2. Charles’ high school graduation picture
Charles John Feddema was born November 3, 1943 in Itasca, Minnesota to Norbert and Odelia (Delia) Julia Bambrink Feddema. Norbert Feddema was born in Alberta, Canada when his father and mother moved from the St. Cloud area to farm near Victoria. Norbert was only a year old when his father died and his mother moved back across the border with him and his brother to settle back in the St. Cloud area. Norbert grew up and attended school there, and in June of 1939 married Delia Bambrink. He worked for the Great Northern Railroad all his life and the family moved to accommodate his job. They were living in Itasca, Minnesota when Charles was born. Charles had two sisters, Jean Anne and Kathryn Mary.
When Charles graduated from high school he attended Bemidji State College and the University of Minnesota. A year before he would have graduated, however, he had to drop out because of illness and lost his student draft deferment. He volunteered for the Army, and although he had three years of math and hoped for something else, he was still designated infantry.
He was sent to Vietnam on December 12, 1966 as an infantryman with A Company, 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. The 9th Infantry Division was launching its first combat operations in Vietnam that month as well. Major General George S. Eckhardt led 5,000 9th Division Infantrymen onto the beaches of Vung Tan to be welcomed by General William C. Westmoreland, commander of Military Assistance Command in Vietnam.
By January the Division had established itself in the Viet Cong-infested Mekong Delta. Elements of the 9th established a base camp in Rach Kien, Long An Province and constructed a well-fortified base of operations. Efforts were made toward the elimination of all insurgent activity within the Province.
It was here at Rach Kien that a grenade accidentally went off and ended Spec. 4 Feddema’s life on March 5, 1967. He received the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Purple Heart. His family, having meanwhile moved to Bemidji, buried him in Holy Cross Cemetery in Bemidji. He was 23 years old.