County Vietnam casualty honored
WELLSVILLE — Ernest G. Madden of Wellsville was just 21 years old when he lost his life in Vietnam while serving as a fire team leader as his company advanced into enemy territory on May 12, 1967.
Corporal Madden’s actions that day would posthumously earn him the Silver Star by then President Lyndon Johnson, and 47 years later, a portion of state Route 45 in Columbiana County would bear his name.
In May of this year Madden was also posthumously honored by being inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for his valiant service in combat with Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division.
His brother, Jerry Madden of Columbiana, nominated him for the state honor.
“After I read about what it was all about, I thought it would be a fitting tribute for my brother,” Jerry Madden said of researching the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.
The organization honors Ohio veterans, both living and deceased, who received medals for valor during their time in the military.
Ernest Madden was a member of the squad serving as a rear guard for the company column operating deep in enemy controlled territory when it was fired upon by about 20 North Vietnamese Army soldiers.
“Numerous casualties were inflicted to that platoon seriously impairing its combat effectiveness, Corporal Madden, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, subjected himself to withering small arms, grenade and mortar fire,” the Secretary of the Navy wrote in the letter announcing Madden’s actions warranted the Silver Star.
The letter went on to say that Madden bravely raced across about 200 meters of hazardous grounds to where he assumed firing position and delivered “highly effective” fire at the nearest enemy.
He continued the attack while being fired upon by the enemy, all the while encouraging and directing his men until he was fatally wounded, the letter said.
“He gallantly gave his life for the service of his country. By his dauntless and heroic action, bold initiative and steadfast determination in the face of the intense enemy fire, he upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service,” it said.
Madden was one of a few other county residents inducted into the Hall of Fame last month.
The portion of state Route 45 from Lisbon Street in Wellsville to Township Line Road was dedicated the Corporal Ernest G. Madden Memorial Highway in June of 2014.