LCPL – E3 – United States Marine Corps
0311 - Infantry Rifleman
Mike Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
Tour began on August 25, 1968
20 Years Old
September 17, 1948 to June 23, 1969
John Glenn remembers his friend...
My name is John Glenn and I am honored to have known Terry as a friend
in Vietnam in 1969.
I was there the day Terry Householter was killed in action in the Queson
Mountains. Terry had just returned from R&R and I was the squad leader for
Terry's squad in first platoon. Terry approached me and wanted his squad back
because he felt he knew his men in his squad better than anyone. I was a
Corporal and he was a Lance Corporal. I was fairly new in country and I could not
argue with him because he was in Vietnam longer than I was. So I agreed with
him and went back to being the right guide the day before he was killed. I was
with Staff Sergeant Wagner as we traversed the narrow trail up the Queson
Mountains. We were in pursuit of an unknown NVA unit. Terry's squad was
on point. We had been ambushed days before and took casualties and the company
was moving at a very slow pace when all of a sudden a burst of AK-47
automatic fire brought all of us down on the ground. "Corpsman Up"! Doc
ran past the column towards the front and word got back that it was
Householter. I immediately went forward and saw Terry on the ground mortally
wounded with 3 bullet wounds to his torso. I stood there staring down when
everyone around me was yelling and setting up a perimeter in case of a counter
attack. It seemed a long time as I remember before the doc and I and two other
Marines carried Terry's body down the mountain to the waiting LZ below. I felt
a great deal of guilt and sorrow that day, and even today, because I agreed to
give Terry his squad back. I remember Terry, first of all, as a decent human
being and a person who took care of the new Marines arriving in Vietnam.
I felt I had no real friends yet after being in Vietnam for almost four months
but Terry filled that void most admirably. I could talk to him freely about the
doubts and fears about being in combat. He told me "John don't worry about
it, you will know what to do when the time comes".
As a teacher here on Okinawa, Japan I have named an annual 3 on 3 basketball
tournament in honor of LCpl Terry A. Householter.
John Glenn, Major, USMC, Retired
Physical Education/Health Teacher
Kadena Middle School, DoDDS, Okinawa, Japan
Jerry Grant remembers his friend...
Coming from Concordia and being one year older than Terry, I knew
him but did not really know him. After meeting him in the chow line in An Hoa
we became close friends. When Grady came over to tell me that Terry had
been killed, it was one of the lowest points in my life. A good person had been
taken from us. I think of him always.
Jerry Grant and Terry Householter
A poem for Terry from Melisa Stolzenburg...
This poem is written in spirit with Terry and Jason, my nephew, a poet and
Marine like Terry. Jason was born July 13, 1969, the same year Terry died
and he was killed in a vehicle accident on March 19, 2001. After Jasons
passing I began to receive poems and words of comfort from I believe Jason
through God which gave the family comfort. Most of these messages came in
poetry form. And now it seems poems of comfort come to me for others. I view
it as a wonderful gift to me, maybe something from God to give people hope and
faith in a hereafter for if there was no hereafter than what would Christs'
resurrection of meant? As follows...Terry's Words.
It is not my wishes for my family and friends to grieve,
but to go forward and to believe,
that I too am alive and well in Christ and so if you don't believe it the first time,
Like me, Jesus died in a great sacrifice to free peoples' lives,
He died for mankind and because of mankind's sins and strife,
He died to show us the way and so do his soldiers die every day,
now in Iraq.
Where and when you ask will all this end,
when The Lord Jesus comes to earth again,
until then please believe,
I am still alive with Jesus and I really didn't die or leave.
I am with you my family and friends when nights seem long,
in your minds you hear my laughter or song,
or sometimes when it clouds up a little and you feel a gentle rain,
yeah, that's God's spirit in me to remind and ease your worries and pain.
Was I a perfect man? No, not me,
but we are not saved by perfection but by His grace you see,
I was just a human being on earth,
a soldier who was killed,
but at the time of my death Jesus came with His Holy shield,
He took me up above it all and took away my pain,
while we watched the horror below and tears that came like rain.
Some say I was a hero,
saved lives and pulled them through,
it must of been God acting through me because brother I was scared too,
and since it was God in me then He saved you for reasons,
I was ready to go on I guess while you have to stay and do God's will for seasons.
I want you to remember me but also to know I am still here,
in spirit with you all,
so you'll not grieve or fear.
I want nobody feeling sorry or guilt over me for I am a spirit that is happy and free,
this is a message to all you "cool-headed" from your friend, Terry.
That is me.
Melisa Stolzenburg remembers Terry...
I had probably known T.A. most of my life. Around Concordia where we grew up
and then I'd run into him during the summer at his mom and step dads as my sister
and family lived right down the alley from the Duffys'. All us kids played together
once burying Terry in a pile of sand. My nephew Greg Thomas, probably 6 then,
proceeded to put a bucket over Terry's head and threw rocks at it until my older
brother Gary Sallman put a stop to it. Terry, probably 12 at the time, was
totally dazed as my brother pulled him to his feet. I think the rest of us did a disappearing
act, especially Greg!
I never was close around Terry after that until I became a teenager and we met
again through a mutual friend Danny Fief in Concordia one night. There after maybe
a year or so later we began dating and he would write me from college and we would
go out whenever he came back.
Terry was a lot of fun and he was a great listener, loved to sing, especially Beatle
songs, and loved, loved, loved, to run. In fact, on our last date and last time
together we went for a long walk cutting across the track at night and down
an alley on west 11th when suddenly he took off running. I couldn't run fast but
with my hand in his I just kind of flew along. He laughed and started barking
at dogs so I joined in. A lot of lights came on down that alley that night with all
the dogs barking back, maybe 9 or 10 mutts howling. We just ran on until we got
to grandma's corner where I was staying and that's where we said our good-byes;
the last time I ever saw him.
I really hated seeing him leave to go to Vietnam but there was no talking him
out of the Marines. It was what he wanted to do. When I read on his web site
of how he died all I can say is Terry always took the lead in everything and he
would not have had it any other way. His friends came first always and he spoke
of Grady and Paul and others in his letters. He did look forward to coming home
and having reunions with family and friends and having a beer party at the Broadway,
now known as A Country Honky (and yes Coors was his favorite beer)!
It was so hard to accept his death until I realized that he isn't dead, he only
passed over to God's world where he will live eternally and surround us in
spirit always. Sometimes I feel him in the air on a nice spring day or cold
crispy winters' day and sometimes I just go up to the cemetery and sit by
his grave for awhile remembering how much love he gave me and I go away
feeling happy and enriched all over again for knowing him and being a part of
his life. I loved his neices' writing and Terry would be very proud. He loved and talked
about all of his sisters and brothers and cousins all the time. God bless all of you
who contributed to Terry's website. It has given me much peace and understanding.
Jenice Easter remembers Terry...
Wow, here it is 39 years later this June since that tragic day we got the call.
It was unreal to me at the time, since I had just turned 15 and had a letter
that I had received from Terry only a few weeks before. The memory of
seeing my mother talking on the telephone with my brother Ted is firmly
planted in my brain. As she stood there listening, her mouth dropped open
and the tears began to fall down her face. She was reassuring my brother
of how sorry she was and all the while I was standing there watching her
thinking that he had something wrong with him. When she got off the phone
and gained her composure, she told me that I needed to sit down. I've never
forgotten the words that she said, or how I refused to believe what she was
telling me. When she told me about Terry being killed, it was like a shock wave
hit my body and I truly didn't accept it. My heart broke into a million pieces that
day and it never completely healed, and I don't believe it ever will.
You see, I had only known Terry a short time before he was sent over to a far off
land that I truly did not understand. It was just a couple of weeks prior to his
deployment that I had the opportunity to get to know him better and share
something with him that made a huge impact on my life as a young lady
preparing to enter her Freshman year of high school. He was a true hero and
friend who I have never forgotten and that I was fortunate and blessed to have
connected with in the short span of time he was on this earth. My story of time
and friendship with Terry is being written into a novel by a dear friend Chris
Hamilton and will be available soon for all to read and understand this personal
and special story of what a sweet, loving and wonderful person he was to
me, as he was to many others as well.
Concordia High School
Class of 1972
Malcom Morgan remembers Terry...
My memory of Terry was not personal since he was one of the seniors when I was
either a freshman or an eighth grader but I have remembered him all my life because
one day during track practice we were waiting to run our 100 yard dashes and hurdles
when we watched Terry run time trials and the coaches would simulate meets and set
off the runners with a gun and use stopwatches at the finish to time all the runners. Terry
ran a 100 yard dash in either 9.3 or 9.1 seconds and we were astounded because that was
a new world record at that time. Being "youngsters" we thought our Terry was going
straight in the record books the next day until the coaches popped our balloon and told
us it wouldn't count because it had to be done during a track meet to go into the
record books. But nonetheless, we knew our Terry was still the fastest guy in the country
whether the record books showed it or not. I also remember during high school when we
found out that he had been killed in Vietnam. All we could think about was what a waste of
such incredible talent that the world would never get to see, but we had been privileged
to witness. My prayers and sympathies go to his family for their loss.
Malcolm Morgan, Concordia High School Class of 1971
Jennifer honors her uncle...
I'm Terry's niece, Jennifer. I'm 21 years old and sadly enough I never had the
chance to meet him. Growing up spending a lot of time with my grandma (which is
Terry's mother) I learned a lot about his life. She was so proud of everything he had
accomplished in his short life. A part of her died when Terry died. I can only
imagine how hard it was on her. She always had his pictures out and little wooden
cut outs of him running in track sitting on the television. I asked about him often.
The main thing I remember her saying was, "He could run like the wind". I was
twelve when she died. We cleaned out her house and ran across all of Terry's
old things. My mother, the baby of the family, was always fond of Terry. She
kept most of his newspaper clippings and pictures and things like that, so I was
able to see those things but it wasn't until my senior year in high school that I
really felt like I knew him.
I took a Vietnam class and my teacher assigned a report that had to be ten
pages long about a solider in Vietnam, fact or fiction. Of course, I chose Terry.
I got a hold of my Uncle Skip, Terry's brother and asked him if he had
anything of Terry's that would be helpful for my research. As shocked as I was
he had more that just anything. He has tons and tons of letters from Terry while
he was in Vietnam. With the information my family could tell me and the
Concordia High School yearbook and of course this web site and the letters...It
was an incredible paper. Not only a paper, but a scrapbook. Needless to say
I got an A+! I love hearing stories of Terry's life. Although I don't know him
as well as some of the others, I feel for not ever meeting him, but I know him
pretty well, as he is by far one of my heroes!
So all you friends of Terry, keep posting new things that you remember
about him, I love hearing new stories. My grandma would be so proud to
know that even after so many years, Terry is still loved and thought of often.
I love them both dearly!
Susan remembers Terry...
I don't remember the first time I saw Terry but I knew who he was pretty quickly
when I started Concordia High because we had study hall together and they had
roll call. The first thing I noticed was that he was very popular, he was almost
never alone. You could be walking down the hall and hear "Hi, Terry", "Hi,
Terry", over and over.
He was two grades ahead of me. I guess what I remember most from school
is the day I dropped my books on the stairs. I am disabled and I had a hard time
carrying my books up those stairs. I guess most who went to Concordia High
remembers that those terazzo stairs were sometimes a little slick. One day I
slipped a little going upstairs and dropped my books. Embarrassed, I started to
pick them up, kids walking past me, then I realized a boy had stopped to help.
I looked up and it was Terry. I reached for my books and he said he would
carry them to my classroom. I thanked him at my classroom door and he smiled
brilliantly and said "No problem".
Later he worked at the same business with my older brother part-time and they
became fast friends. Terry told my brother that he often saw me at school.
About 3 years later after we had moved away, my brother told me he had been
killed in Vietnam. All I could do was cry. Terry was a great guy and a huge
loss for many.
Chris Hamilton has some amazing information about Terry...
Friends, you all have to know this about Terry. I researched ALL track times since
1909 in the archives of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame for EVERY State Track
Meet multiple Gold Medal winners who won 2 of 3 or all 3 sprints in the 100, 200, and
400 meters (100, 220, and 440 yards) using official meters/yards time equivalency
charts. This is 96 years!
You guys have to know that Terry is the fastest multiple gold medal winner at the
State Meet in these three events in 96 years! 96 years! His times were even FASTER
than Maurice Green (former World Record holder) in these three events! Only one guy,
Marcell Carter from Topeka had equivalent multiple times, but he was slower in both
the 200/220 and 400/440. I have a complete newspaper file on every race/time he ran as a
senior. It's taken me some years to track this all down.
You have to remember Terry was 17 years old and didn't turn 18 until the Fall. All
the other guys were, basically, a half-year or more older.
There is no doubt who was the greatest overall high school sprinter in Kansas history. It
has been 38 years since 1967 and only one guy has even come close since then.
According to newspaper accounts in The Salina Journal and The Wichita Eagle Beacon,
Terry's semifinal 220 was ran in 21.3 seconds which is equivalent to a 21.1 in meters.
His record "On the Wall" at Concordia High School does not reflect this time, (his final
time is listed at 21.6 or 21.4 in meters) but his preliminary time of 21.3 / 21.1 meters was
printed in these papers as an OFFICIAL time at the State Meet in the preliminaries.
According to all time Kansas records, this would be among the fastest 3 times ever recorded
in the State Track Meet, and the fastest time ever for a State Gold Medal, and his 21.1 is
listed in the official all-time record book as well. Just ask Lyle Pounds, who held his warm-
up sweats at the track in Salina when Terry finished 30 yards ahead of the "Competition".
I will tell you probably the most amazing race he ran, maybe even greater than the 21.1 in
Salina was at the Concordia Relays that year. A dozen of us were sitting in the stands
when a dropped baton was picked-up in the lane by Terry. (This kind of thing happened
again at the "Super Meet" in Wichita that year). Being in the lane about 5 yards before the
end of the lane, he was behind by 30 - 40 yards and started to sprint with 220 plus yards
to go (plus 5 yards in the lane). Three or four of us (Liedtke, Diebel, Pete Foster, myself,
and Coach Coppoc) had watches.
I never saw a thing like it in my entire life. He covered the 220 plus yards in 21 seconds flat
by all watches and caught and passed every guy at the tape, making up more than 40 yards.
Running over 220 yards in 21 seconds flat, he was hitting low 20's for 200 meters (218
yards), maybe 20.3 or 20.2 for 200 meters. You cannot imagine what this was like. It was
BEYOND amazing. It was virtually Olympic times, and he was only 17 years old.
Jerome Martin remembers his friends...
Thank you for the work you are doing. I am from Concordia, Kansas. I knew
Terry Householter and I remember the day I heard he was killed in action, he
was a swell guy. I also went to school with Richard Fiffe. He was an only child as I
recall and a year older than me. He was a quiet and very sincere, honest person.
I ran into Terry's cousin David in Vietnam in mid-1971. We met a few more times
and I haven't seen him in all these years. I rarely lookup things about Vietnam and
I certainly don't go to war movies. I stumbled onto this site looking up and old friend.
Dan Menke remembers Terry...
I teach at Chase County High School. I knew Terry Householter when he was in
eighth grade - I was a senior. I watched him run over the four years while he was
in high school. Amazing runner.
Really moving exhibit! I have been to D.C. to see the Wall as well. It does stir
up some emotion. I took a group of students during the week that the unknown
soldier of Vietnam was buried.
The Salina Journal
May 26, 2002
Concordia track star wouldn't run from
responsibility in Vietnam War
Terry's wallet and identification card were hit
by one of the bullets that struck him down.
It was one of Terry Householter's best days. As a senior co-captain for the Concordia
High Panthers, Householter was standing on the winner's podium at the State
Outdoor track and field meet surrounded by his teammates as he accepted the class
A state championship trophy.
It was Householter who had thrilled the large crowd on hand at Salina Stadium on that
Saturday afternoon - May 20, 1967 - with a triple gold medal performance to lead his
team to its third outdoor state title in six years. He had blazed to glory in the 100-, 220-
and 440-yard dashes.
Watching from the stands was Householter's mother, the late Josephine Duffy, who
had come to see her son compete for one of the few times in his high school career.
"It was probably one of the most exciting days of her life, I would say," said Sue Riley,
a daughter of Duffy and half sister to Householter. "You couldn't keep her down in
her seat. It was almost indescribable."
The photo of Householter accepting the championship trophy appeared in the local
Concordia Blade-Empire. The championship ended a perfect season for the Panthers.
They had competed in nine meets that spring and won them all.
Perfection, for the first time in school history.
It was indeed a good day to be 18-year-old Terry Householter, who by the time he
graduated from high school, had become a legend on the track and a friend to teammates
and fellow competitors alike.
"We'd go to track meets, and he'd sit on the end of track and wobble his knees a little bit
to get ready for a race," said Herschel Betts, Concordia's track coach from 1957-68.
"Pretty soon there would be a crowd. I mean, he knew everybody. It didn't matter
what class. He just never knew a stranger and everybody was his friend. He was just
that kind of a kid."
Two years later, "the Kid" - now a corporal in the Marine Corps - wrote home to his mother
from South Vietnam, professing his love and apologizing for not being able to send her a
Mother's Day gift. He vowed to return to Fort Hays State University and run track for
legendary coach Alex Francis.
Terry Householter never got a second chance to run for the Tigers. On June 23, 1969 -
with just 29 days remaining on his tour of duty - Householter was killed during a search-
and-clear operation by the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Mike Company, in Quang
On this Memorial Day weekend - which honors the sacrifices made by men and women
in the Armed Forces and also crowns the champions of Kansas high school track - memories
come flooding back to those who remember Householter's ability on the track and
leadership on the battlefield.
"You never get over it," said Skip Householter, Terry's older brother. "In fact,
my mother told me one time there's nothing worse than losing a son before you. She
never got over it."
"I joined the Marine Corps in August 1967.
Terry went to Fort Hays State on a track
scholarship. Around Christmas 1967, I
ran into Terry at the local bar. He told me
that he wanted to quit college and join the
military. I told him that if he was going in,
to join the Marines and be one of the best.
I would give anything to change that advice."
Terry August Householter was born September 17, 1948, the second son of Gus and
Josephine Householter. Terry's father died from a brain tumor when his son was 4
years old. Josephine remarried two years later - to Matthew Duffy of Salina - and
the couple had four children, Sue, Mike, Candice and Tina.
Terry's brother, Skip, moved to Salina with his mother and became a star athlete at
Salina High School and played on the Mustangs' unbeaten football team in 1959. Skip
was also the Class AA State Indoor pole vault champion as a senior in 1960.
Terry, however, stayed behind and attended grade school and high school in Concordia.
He made his home with his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. D.P. Strait.
"It was not a problem at all. Terry would come (to Salina) all the time," Skip said.
"My mother worked a lot after my dad died, and Terry spent a lot of time with my
grandparents. They pretty much raised him. So, it was more like him to be home in
Concordia than it would have been for him to go to Salina."
"The problem back then was, here (the Duffys) had some new babies and the other kids
were so much older," said Mike Duffy, Salina. "I think it was just more than they
could deal with financially. Back in those days, and I really didn't know the details, I just
know the kids were pretty ornery, and my dad was a pretty strict disciplinarian."
"I didn't think it was going to be a forever deal with Terry, but by the time they said
'Do you want to come live with us?' he was old enough to decide for himself."
However, Terry did spend a lot of time in Salina and on a farm near Falun with his half
brother and sisters during his high school days. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, was
known to hustle a game of pool from time to time, enjoyed motorcycles, cigarettes and
an occasional beer.
"Terry was so well known and so well liked by all Concordians," said Sue Riley, Denver.
"Everyone followed him. I was probably his favorite. He would take me on a
bicycle-built-for-two at night to show off his little sister. They didn't come much better
than him. Yes, he was ornery, but it was all in fun. He had a great sense of humor, and
I think that was why people would let slide with his orneriness."
Tina Ward, Marquette, the youngest of the Duffy children, was 7 years old when Terry
was a senior in high school.
"I remember sitting on the side of the bed with him and listening to the Beatles," Tina
said. "He taught me 'I Want To Hold Your Hand.' That was the first song I learned."
"I coached track for 17 years.
In those 17 years, I've never
seen anyone who could sprint
like that. And he did it week
after week. He just kept getting
better. I mean, he just had
fabulous speed and acceleration.
No, I've never seen another one
Herschel Betts, former Concordia
track and field coach
Terry was an average student in school, but a whirlwind on the track. By the time he
finished high school, he had won five gold medals at state meets and countless others at
local, league and regional levels.
"He was a free spirit and, boy, was he fast," said Jim Neihouse, who was the state's top
distance runner in 1967 as a senior at Sacred Heart High School. "When he came out
of the blocks, it was like he was shot out of a cannon."
Terry's start was exceptional, producing personal-bests of 9.6 seconds in the 100-yard
dash, 21.6 in the 220 and 48.9 in the 440. He also anchored the record-setting 880-
yard relay team, although the team failed to win the event in 1967 when the baton was
dropped, leaving Householter standing alone on the track in Salina, unable to win a fourth
Skip Householter remembers the first time he saw his little brother run. "There was a little
headwind that day, and when he came down the track, he was so far ahead of everyone
else," Skip said. "His head never moved as he was running. It was just stationary, and I
was very impressed by that. No one ever taught him that. That was natural."
When Terry had finished the race on the asphalt track, he had run 100 yards in 9.8
seconds. "Of course, he ended up running a lot quicker than that, but that was the first
time I had seen him run in high school, and I was very impressed. Back then,
that was an unbelievable time."
Householter and his head coach, Herschel Betts - both head strong individuals - had
their battles during the fall semester of Terry's senior year. Terry was booted from
the track team for smoking and transferred to Junction City High School in November.
But, after three weeks, he wanted to return to Concordia to finish his senior year.
The Kansas State High School Activities Association ruled Householter eligible a
few days before the 1967 State Indoor meet and Terry helped Concordia tie
Sacred Heart for the Class A team championship.
"The kids just loved him, he was just a free spirit," said Betts, 75, who became the
principal at Oberlin High School after leaving Concordia. "He was a tremendous
competitor. We worked very hard on starts, and he just beat everybody out of the
blocks. His acceleration was unequaled. You know, the good ones always look
like they're loafing, and he ran so relaxed. He really just floated. He thought
he could beat anybody, thought our team could beat anybody."
Betts fondly remembers the 1967 State Outdoor in Salina when Terry urged
along teammate Steve Collins during the middle of the 220 final. Collins, a junior
that year, also was one of the state's top sprinters.
"They fired the gun and they were flying along, and Collins was in fourth place," Betts said.
"All of the sudden, Collins just blew right up in there, and they finished first and second.
Later, we were driving back home, and I said, 'Boy, Collie you really took off.' 'Yeah,'
he said, 'Householter told me to.' I said, 'What?' 'Well', he said, 'by the time we got to
the corner of that stadium on the north end, he turned his head and said, "Come on,
Collie, let's go." The two other kids faded and Collins blew up in there.
"I mean, that's the kind of leader he was. Right in the middle of a state championship
race, Terry turned his head and said, 'Let's go, Collie.' He just had complete confidence."
"There hasn't been a day that
I can think of in the last 32
years that I haven't thought
about Terry Householter.
There's a picture of him that
hangs on the wall in my office.
He's the closest thing I had to a
brother. He is the icon of what
is tragic in war. We lose our best
sons many times because our best
sons are our bravest."
After graduating from high school, Householter accepted a track and field scholarship
at Fort Hays State with coach Alex Francis. But college wasn't for him. He lasted one
semester before enlisting in the Marine Corps. He attended basic training at Camp
Pendelton near San Diego before shipping off to South Vietnam in August 1968.
A few months later, Terry met Grady Rainbow, a fellow Midwesterner from Oklahoma
City. The two hit it off immediately when Rainbow checked into Mike Company, 3rd
Battalion, 5th Marines. Both had run track in high school, and both loved the music
of KOMA, a popular and powerful Oklahoma City radio station during the 1960's.
"I knew he was from Kansas, and he knew I was from Oklahoma City," said Rainbow,
51. "We started talking about KOMA radio and found out we had a lot in common. I
remember we were on road security one day. Terry and I were talking, and we had a little
transistor that could pick up Armed Forces Radio. It's kind of boring sitting out there;
you're just watching the road waiting to guard the convoy when it's coming down. We got
to talking, and Terry said, 'Yeah, you can just flick it to 1520,' and he turned the AM
dial to it and we picked up KOMA for an hour, from Vietnam. It really kind of brought it
all home to us."
Rainbow, who is writing a book on his experiences in Vietnam, said everybody liked
Householter. He said the book, when published, will be dedicated to his best friend.
"I don't think he had a single guy in that company that didn't think well of him,"
Rainbow said. "He had been the commanding officer's radio man for a while, and he
stepped back down from that to take over a fire team. He was a caring individual. He
knew what he was doing. After you've been there three or four months, you're either
an expert or you're dead. He brought the new guys along."
The Marine Corps fought in the northern area of South Vietnam, which was the most
dangerous area near the only working coal mine in southeast Asia.
"If you served with the Fifth Marine Regiment from 1966-70, the odds of being wounded
were 110 percent," Rainbow said. "We were in constant combat with the enemy, three
and a half years straight without a break. We went from one operation to the next with no
breaks in between."
Rainbow said on the night of June 22, 1969, he and Householter woke up in the middle of
the night. They were part of a U.S. force that for nearly two weeks had been trying
to fight its way out of an entrapment by the North Vietnamese Army.
"It was almost like a Hollywood cliché, we both woke up in the middle of the night, and we
were convinced we weren't getting out of there alive. We had been pinned down on the
mountain for over 14 days, and we were in some rough stuff. Our company probably
took 60 to 70 percent casualties. We had made each other a promise, a typical
stupid promise - if something happens to me, will you go see my folks?' - because
both of us knew we weren't coming out of there. The next day, Terry was killed."
Householter was the squad leader the day he was killed. In Rainbow's words:
"We only had one trail to come back out of this place, and we'd already
lost five or six point men in five days trying to get out. Finally, it was our squad's turn.
We rotated and we went down. Terry wouldn't let me walk point that morning,
which is normally what I did. We stopped the squad for a minute so he could check
out the area where the ambushes had been coming from. And I guess the company
commander called up to him on the radio, and when he turned and reached for the
radio, the North Vietnamese knew he was the squad leader and they cut him down."
News of Terry's death hit Concordia and Salina hard. The Duffys still remember the
day they learned of their half brother's death when representatives of the Marine Corps
made the solemn afternoon visit to the house at 316 S. Connecticut.
Mike Duffy: "I was 13 when he was killed. I had been out fishing at the cutoff, and here
was an official car out front. These two Marine guys came out the front door and I knew
right away what it was. You don't want to believe it. My first thought was, 'No, it
can't be.' I ran into the house and everybody was crying, so I knew right away."
"My mother could never accept his death her entire life. I didn't understand the
Vietnam War as a young teenager. I didn't know what was going on, but I think
my mother did, and the fact (U.S. troops) were basically hamstrung and not allowed
to win the war. To her, he died for nothing."
Sue Riley: "It's etched pretty deep in my memory. I was 14 years old, and I can see it
like it was yesterday because I was outside when the car pulled up. I was sitting on the
car. The Chaplain was there, the dress blues, and your heart goes to your toes because
even at 14 years old and you're writing to guys in Vietnam, you know what happened.
I tried to run to the front door before they arrived to warn my mother, but I couldn't.
My mother answered the front door and began to scream and continued to scream. I
remember my father was in the backyard working on a big rose garden. I actually
rode with my mother down to the Marine office at the time. She was very distraught.
Of course, you never got over a child's death. It's been difficult for a lot of people."
Tina Ward: "When they came to tell Mom, she was ironing clothes, and I was just
waiting for my other sisters to come home. I was looking out the window and saw these
guys coming up in Marine uniforms. And I said, 'Mom, someone's here,' and she
looked out the door and said, 'You ain't coming in my house, you son of a bitch.' She
slammed the door. She knew Terry had been killed. I still remember that, plain
Skip Householter still has trouble talking about his brother's death. "I would really rather
not got into that. I mean, that's a pretty tough area there," Skip said. "I will say
this. We wrote back and forth all the time, and it was a very sad day. One of the
worst days of my life was when I had sent him a letter and it had come back. It
was unable to deliver. That was tough. That's when we found out he had been killed."
Herschel Betts, who coached Terry and was as close to a father as Terry had in
Concordia, vividly remembered where he was when he heard the news. "I was
working in the granary out here. Jody (his wife) came out and she was crying," Betts
said. "I said, 'What's the matter?' and she said, 'I don't know if I can tell you.' And
she said, "Terry's been killed.' I was just devastated. I just had received a letter from
him a few days before, and he'd said, 'Coach, I'm getting close to coming home. I'll be
out to see you in Oberlin. And then I want to go see Coach Francis at Hays and I'm
going back to college.' I've still got his letters in my drawer at home. He was very,
"I can still see him in that casket. They were just getting ready to close the casket and
take it to the high school. I don't know if I've ever been so brokenhearted. I just
loved that kid. He was just like a son."
Concordia Mayor Rex Gerard
proclaimed July 5, 1969 - the
day of the funeral - a citywide
day of mourning and requested
all flags be flown at half staff.
Most businesses closed for the
funeral, which was at the high
Grady Rainbow visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall in 1999 to say good-bye to his best
friend. "I cried, but there was something nice that happened, and it almost made me feel
vindicated as a Vietnam veteran," Rainbow said. "I went down there early in the morning
and there were some school buses bringing kids down to tour the area. I had walked
down to the wall to find Terry's name (Panel 22W, Line 120), and his name is real low
on the wall and you have to kind of kneel down to it."
"I saw the park ranger and was doing the rubbing and was having a tough time getting
composed, and as I stood up, the park ranger looked at me and nodded his head and
kind of pointed his head beyond me. I turned around and there was a school teacher
standing there, making all the students stop because she didn't want to have them down
there bothering me while I was saying good-bye to my friends. And I just thought that was
a very wonderful thing for anyone to do."
Terry's name on The Moving Wall while it
was in Salina May of 2002.
These messages were left in the Faces On The Wall
notebook that travels with the tribute...
I remember when you were 8 years old and came to the Blade to visit -
you had beautiful blonde curls.
Terry was my cousins stepson. He was well known for his athletic ability
in High School. His mother Josephine was a kind person.
Carol Ann B.
I watched Terry run in 1967 several times in High School. Watching him run
was amazing - so smooth & powerful.
David Meats remembers Terry...
I was a friend of Terry Householter in high school and after high school.
I was stationed off the coast of Viet Nam on the aircraft carrier USS
Ticonderoga in 1969-70. Terry and I wrote to each other frequently in
1969. Then his letters stopped and I read his name in the KIA section
of the Navy Times
. I have never recovered from that shock. Until I read the
story about how Terry died, I did not know. Now 30 years later I can bring
closure to this shock.
Terry was the State Class "A" Champion in the 100-yd dash, 220-yd dash,
and the 440-yd dash in 1967. He was the State Record Holder in the 440-yd dash
with a time of 48.9 seconds. A four-year major letterman, he was a member
of the medley team that won first place in the Regional meet his freshman year.
Terry won the 100-yd dash, placed second in the 220, and his 880-relay team
won first place in the league meet his sophomore year. The 880-relay team won
first place six times, were second in the Regional meet, and fifth in the State meet.
In 1966 he won the 100-yd dash five times and the 220-yd dash four times.
He was NCKL Champion in the 100 and 220, and anchored the 880 team
to a first place finish, plus got third in the broad jump. In the Regional meet he placed
third in the 220, and ran on the 880 and mile relay teams that placed second
and third. At the State meet he was fifth in the 220 and the 880-relay team
won first place. In 1967, Terry was undefeated in the 100 and 220 dashes, and
was beaten only once at the State indoor meet in the 440 dash. His victories
included a first place finish in the 100 at the K.U. Relays, all classes. His best
times were; 100 – 9.6 at Abilene; 220 – 21.3 (wind aided) in the State
Preliminaries; and his State Record of 48.9 in the 440 at the meet in Salina.
His 880 relay team tied the State Record of 1:30.6 in the State Preliminaries and
lost only twice during the season. He was voted the first winner of the Bill Dotson
Track and Field Award for the senior boy who did the most to promote track
and field at Concordia High School.
Larry Bohling remembers Terry…
He was my hero as I was an underclassman
I remember Terry running a 9.6 timed 100 yard dash his senior year of high
school at Concordia. That time was a State of Kansas record. That event
was in 1967. Terry, to me, a freshman in high school, was a hero. Later
in the summer of 1967, I was standing outside the bowling alley in Concordia
and Terry drove up into the parking lot. He stopped to talk to me, the
underclassman, and offered, or I asked him for a cigarette. I really don't
remember how I got that "Winston" and we smoked together. This made
him two times my hero. He is gone, three times my hero.
Sheldon Walle remembers Terry…
High School Friend
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. I don't know that he ever really even knew who I was other than the
guy that ended up chasing him down the track. We would speak casually while
preparing to run and he was always very cheerful and friendly. I was quite saddened
when I learned of his death. I hope to race him again someday; even if I have
to come in second. My belated condolences and prayers to his family.
Terry is the one standing
Grady Rainbow remembers Terry…
Friend and Fellow Marine,
Third Battalion, Fifth Marines
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
Oklahoma City). Terry was with me the day on road security when we lost
Smith and Murphey. We were 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. 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 crossfire 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 Householter was posthumously promoted to
Corporal from Lance Corporal upon his death. For his gallant service in
Vietnam, he had received the Bronze Star Medal with "V" for valor, the
Navy Commendation Medal with "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.
If you would like to post your remembrance
about Terry, please click here.