The golfers among us: Ted Lide, Vietnam hero

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By Elsa Bonstein, Golf Gab

A few weeks ago, I began the series “The Golfers Among Us.” We have a fabulous, fantastic, fascinating mix of people here in Brunswick County and I wanted to feature some of our local citizen/golfers.

This week, we honor one of our military heroes: Ted Lide. He is a gentle, humble man, yet he is also the most decorated Vietnam veteran hailing from South Carolina.

Today Lide lives a quiet life in Brick Landing, but back in 1966-67, he was in the jungles of Vietnam. Like many of our military heroes, he is reluctant to speak about his war experiences. I met with him last week and pried spoken stories, written notes, a few clippings and photos of Lide back in his days of combat.

Lide is from Reevesville, S.C. His grandparents owned a store there and his father was born in the adjacent house. The dual building still exists and Lide proudly showed me a framed picture of it.

He attended Edward High School and Wofford College, then went into the military, where he served for 10 years.

“I arrived in Vietnam on orders for the 1st Infantry Division,” he said. “I checked in with the sergeant processing all new officers and told him that I was assigned to the Big Red One. He told me to forget it unless I was on the special list from General DePuy, the division commander. Well, he checked the list, my name was there and I was suddenly on the team.”

“Our soldiers were General DePuy’s first concern,” Lide recalled. “Many officers lost their jobs and their careers for making a mistake that could have put the troops in danger. I was assigned as a major to stick to the side of the Third Infantry Brigade commanding officer as his artillery assistant. I was told personally by General DePuy that ‘we have plenty of ammunition and I want you to have rounds going out all around our troops anytime they are out on a mission.’”

Lide gave me some of his written notes from combat missions. Here is what he wrote about one significant action:

In one of our biggest battles, we had all Division Infantry Battalions attached to us, and I had every piece of artillery that was in range of the battle firing. We pumped in over 10,000 rounds of artillery into the jungle area defended by North Vietnamese Regular Army units. It turned out to be a huge ammunitions factory and ammo storage area and they put a ferocious fight trying to defend it.

Lide was in combat for hours and hours, days on end. A newspaper article printed on Dec. 3, 1966 states:

“Major Lide, serving as artillery liaison officer in the command and control ship, coordinated the artillery fire onto the insurgents. Major Lide directed the pilot to make several low passes over the forward Viet Cong position in order to determine its size, the location, its main forces, its battle formation and its susceptibility to air strikes, concentrated artillery fire and tactical infantry movement.

“While in flight, Major Lide was continually exposed to hostile automatic weapons and .50 caliber machine gun fire.”

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The citation reads: Major Lide’s determination and resoluteness of purpose and his professional and flawless actions while under hostile fire were undoubtedly of pivotal import in the success of the operation.

During that year in Vietnam, Ted was awarded 57 medals. Many of them are in a glass frame in his office. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Stars, 33 Air Medals, four Vietnamese Cross of Gallantrys, the Air Combat Medal, The Presidential Unit Citation, the Meritorious Unit Citation, the Vietnamese Unit Citation and (as he says) 10 more ribbons for just being here.

Asked about his service, Lide says, “It was the most fulfilling part of my life. I did everything the books had taught me, but then it was real life with real guns and real people. It was different than just reading about it, or training or doing practice exercises.”

After 10 years in the Army, Ted moved to Rhode Island, where he operated five Kentucky Fried Chicken stores.

“I wanted to get some franchises in the Carolinas, but none of them were close to each other. In Rhode Island, I had five stores and it was a 35-minute circuit to visit all of them. I didn’t have to be on the road all the time.”

As a young man, Lide had played softball, basketball and volleyball. Some of his friends started playing golf and urged him to start, but he kept telling them he would play golf when he reached 50.

“I played one or two rounds and I was hooked,” he said. “The best part was that KFC has an annual convention and golf was always part of it. The conventions were often held in great places, like Hawaii. I got to play Turtle Bay there and some other great courses along the way. I learned to love the game.”

A few months ago, Lide won the match play championship at Brick Landing.

“I was delighted because this is the first real tournament I ever won — and I just turned 80 last March.”

Looking back on his life, Lide is happy to be on the Carolina Coast with his wife, Sue, playing golf and visiting his grandchildren in California.

“I am a very lucky man,” he said. “When I was in Vietnam, I was assigned to a U.S. brigadier commander who later became a general. He died years ago from Agent Orange.
I stepped on every piece of ground the colonel did in Vietnam and, thankfully, I’m still here.”

On Memorial Day, let’s think about our veterans and all the servicemen and service women who have put themselves in danger for us and the United States of America.

Thank you for your service, Ted Lide.


Golf Gab groaner:

The sheriff pulled up next to a man unloading garbage out of his pickup truck into a ditch.

“Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch?” the officer asked. “Don’t you see the sign right over your head?”

“Yep,” he replied. “That’s why I’m dumping it here, ’cause it says: Fine for Dumping Garbage.”

(Contributed by Jim Campana)


Elsa Bonsteinis a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at elanbon@atmc.net. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein. Her website is elsabonstein.com.