10/19/2013 — La Crosse, WI
LTC. Gene William Mader was a soldier and patriot. He taught his three daughters about love of country and the price of freedom. He started his Army career as a "PV-0' five months before he graduated from high school. He took to basic training like a duck to water! He was and 11-Bravo...Infantryman to the core. After he'd retired, and I was preparing for basic training myself, he gave me some words of advice. I was griping about what a pain it was to have to do the run. I grudgingly ran several times a week in my Corcorans. He told me that if I brought one foot up, God would put the other one down for me. Those words got me through miles of PT!
LTC. Mader loved serving his country, and when he volunteered for 'Nam in 1962 as a "MAAG", advisor, he went prepared to pay the ultimate price. That was before anyone in the civilian world even knew of Vietnam. My father's "war injury" occurred when he was with his SV unit at a remote outpost. There were two NCOs with him amongst the SV unit. Apparently, one day he was playing poker in his hootch when they began taking incoming. My father was so excited (he said), that he jumped up to grab his weapon off the wall, and ran out of the hootch at full speed. Unfortunately, his keen powers of observation were off and he didn't notice the 55 gallon drum sitting just outside the hootch. His right knee hit the drum full-on.....it hurt. That was it.
The stories he didn't tell us were the ones we learned of as we read letters he had written to Capt. Paul Vegna, Air Force pilot who flew recon in the area. His documentation of the torture techniques used by the North and South Vietnamese soldiers, and stories of baskets full of the ears of the defeated VC brought me right to my father, all of these years later.
How did he seem to carry on a "normal life" after 'Nam? How many secrets did his soul carry to his grave?
America's greatest Patriot and Soldier passed over to "the next advendture" as he called it, on 10 Feb. 2011.