John James Kedenburg

Specialist Five
Army of the United States
31 July 1946 - 14 June 1968
Central Islip, New York
Panel 57W Line 017

5TH SF GRP Medal of Honor MACV-SOG
Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

John J Kedenburg

The database page for John James Kedenburg

8 Jul 2001

John J Kedenburg

With John's passing we lost a great soldier and a true hero who received the Medal of Honor for his valorous deeds that led to his untimely death. It is with deep gratitude that we are remembering Specialist John Kedenburg and all the others who served and died in times of war so that we may enjoy the Freedom and Liberties that make the United States of America great.

From a comrade's friend,
Clark T. Ballard, Jr, M D
Col U S Army Ret
66 Leschi Drive, Steilacoom, WA 98388-1514

03 Apr 2005

This morning while visiting the grave of my childhood friend, John James Petrillo, who died in combat in Vietnam on Feb. 6, 1968 I happened upon another grave a short distance from his that arrested my attention. The headstone was dedicated to John James Kedenburg. The words "Medal of Honor" were written upon the stone and all of the lettering was in gold rather than in the standard black. Upon returning home I looked up John James Kedenburg on the internet to learn of what actions had led to such an honor as to receive this medal. The story of his valor and courage are nothing short of awe-inspiring. He literally saved the lives of the men in his platoon through his actions and then, when about to be evacuated from a battle against overwhelming odds, he willingly traded his own life, facing certain death, to save the life of another soldier. I am profoundly moved to have encountered the final resting place of this extraordinary individual, a young man who sacrificed his own life at the age of twentyone in order to save others.

From a fellow American citizen,
Gerard D. Redmond

A Note from The Virtual Wall: SP4 John J. Petrillo, mentioned above, was one of three men from Delta Company, 3rd Bn, 22nd Infantry, killed in action on 06 Feb 1968 in Hau Nghia Province. The other two men were 2LT Raymond E. Dunlap, Amarillo, Texas, and PFC Michael A. Hodge, Sparta, Wisconsin.

10 Dec 2006

Your dedication to the men on your team should be a inspiration to all of us that will ever be a part of any team. Your actions are a personal inspiration to me and gives me a standard to strive for. Thank you for your service not only to this great nation, but to your fellow team mates.

Wally Dexter

The President of the United States,
in the name of the Congress,
takes pride in presenting the

Medal of Honor

posthumously to

John James Kedenburg
Specialist 5, United States Army

for service as set forth in the following


For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. SP5 Kedenburg, U.S. Army, Command and Control Detachment North, Forward Operating Base 2, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), distinguished himself while serving as advisor to a long-range reconnaissance team of South Vietnamese irregular troops. The team's mission was to conduct counter-guerrilla operations deep within enemy-held territory. prior to reaching the day's objective, the team was attacked and encircled by a battalion-size North Vietnamese Army force. SP5 Kedenburg assumed immediate command of the team which succeeded, after a fierce fight, in breaking out of the encirclement. As the team moved through thick jungle to a position from which it could be extracted by helicopter, SP5 Kedenburg conducted a gallant rear guard fight against the pursuing enemy and called for tactical air support and rescue helicopters. His withering fire against the enemy permitted the team to reach a preselected landing zone with the loss of only 1 man, who was unaccounted for. Once in the landing zone, SP5 Kedenburg deployed the team into a perimeter defense against the numerically superior enemy force. When tactical air support arrived, he skillfully directed air strikes against the enemy, suppressing their fire so that helicopters could hover over the area and drop slings to be used in the extraction of the team. After half of the team was extracted by helicopter, SP5 Kedenburg and the remaining 3 members of the team harnessed themselves to the sling on a second hovering helicopter. Just as the helicopter was to lift them out of the area, the South Vietnamese team member who had been unaccounted for after the initial encounter with the enemy appeared in the landing zone. SP5 Kedenburg unhesitatingly gave up his place in the sling to the man and directed the helicopter pilot to leave the area. He then continued to engage the enemy who were swarming into the landing zone, killing 6 enemy soldiers before he was overpowered. SP5 Kedenburg's inspiring leadership, consummate courage and willing self-sacrifice permitted his small team to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy and escape almost certain annihilation. His actions reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a comrade's friend,
Clark T. Ballard, Jr, M D, Col U S Army Ret
66 Leschi Drive, Steilacoom, WA 98388-1514

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 8 Jul 2001
Last updated 01/18/2007