GLADDEN, MICHAEL JAY
GLADDEN, MICHAEL JAY
Rank / Branch:
SP4 E-4 U.S. ARMY
173RD AIRBORNE BRIGA
Date of Birth:
HOSTILE, DIED MISSIN
Awards & Decorations:
See Alphabetical list
list by County
MICHAEL JAY GLADDEN, SPECIALIST FOUR, U.S. ARMY, ODESSA, ECTOR COUNTY, TEXAS
AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Combat Infantryman's Badge, Parachute Wings, Bronze with "V" Device, Purple Heart-2 Oak Leaf Clusters (3 awards), National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and Vietnam Military Merit Medal, Vietnam Service Medal
Mike was born in Andrews, Texas, the oldest child born to Ralph Dee and Bertha Gary Gladden. According to his sister, Debbie, the family lived all over West Texas and Eastern New Mexico before settling in Odessa in 1961. That year, Mike started his freshman year at Permian High School and attended Permian until he graduated with the Class of 1965. While at Permian he played on the J.V. Football Team and was on the speech debate team. He enrolled at Odessa College and then elected to join the Army in October 1965 to get his military obligation behind him. He had planned to return to college upon his discharge.
He was trained as an infantryman and then attended airborne training and received his jump wings at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina in March 1966 and remained there until he was levied for Vietnam. He came home on a 21 day leave.
He departed for Vietnam on June 30, 1967. He was assigned as an infantryman with B Company, 4th Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade. He was wounded twice, shot once by a sniper in August 1967, was medevaced to an in country hospital and returned to duty after two weeks. He had his nose broken from an explosive device in early November 1967 which earned him his second purple heart. In late November 1967, his company was one of several companies of the 173rd Airborne Brigade who were attempting to take Hill 875 in the A Shau Valley about 8 kilometers from the Cambodian border and which sat astride a major exit of the Ho Chi Minh Trail system into South Vietnam. This came also to be known as one of several battles of Dak To, which took place during the Vietnam War.
Permian High School, 1965
The mission started on November 19th with one company assigned the objective to root out what was thought to be an NVA company on the Hill. The real truth was that the hill was occupied and well fortified by two NVA regiments. Mike's company along with two others were air lifted in on the 20th of November as reinforcements. In harsh fighting, the battle continued for four days. In this battle, there was an episode of friendly fire, in which many wounded sky soldiers were killed from a wayward bomb. In the four day battle, which will go down as one of the bloodiest of the Vietnam War, the 2nd and 4th Battalions of the 503rd Infantry suffered 158 killed, 33 missing and 411 evacuated wounded while fighting. On/about November 20, 1967, Mike was declared missing in the carnage. His body was located along with others on November 23, 1967 as the battle field was policed and it was a week before he was positively identified. In a documentary some 20 years after the battle, one former sky soldier from Tennessee who fought in the battle stated after the battle, it was around Thanksgiving and when supply helicopters came in, they brought Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and dressing. The former soldier stated to this day he cannot eat or smell turkey or dressing.
Mike Gladden, Daniel Huggins and Anthony J. Romball-Vietnam July 1967-Huggins-KIA a few days later
Mike is buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Odessa. He was one of six in his graduating class at Permian High School in Odessa Class of 65 to perish in Vietnam. Other classmates to perish were: Bobby L. Eaton, USMC; John Neary II, U.S. Army Airborne; Marvin Rex Young, U.S. Army (Medal of Honor); Dale Farris, U.S. Air Force; Randall Jarrell, USMC.
His parents are now deceased and are buried next to him. His brother, Ralph Lynn passed away in 2014 and is buried at Sunset. He is survived by his sister, Debbie Pankey of Houston.
Sunset Memorial Gardens, Odessa, Tx