Born on this day in 1942, Patrick “Tad” Tadina enlisted in the US Army, served as a Ranger in Vietnam from 1965-1970, and was awarded two Silver Stars, ten Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts.
Only 5 feet, 2 inches tall and weighing just 130 pounds, the Hawaii native spent five years in Vietnam leading long range reconnaissance patrols, or LRRPs (pronounced “lurps”), deep into enemy territory.
Frequently disguised as a Viet Cong guerilla – he carried an AK-47 and wore black pajamas and sandals – Tadina was able to infiltrate enemy positions and get dangerously close to communist units.
And when he did, the dedicated Ranger and his elite warriors were always ready. Fighting in close-in jungle engagements and deadly ambushes, the Rangers inflicted heavy losses on the VC and North Vietnamese soldiers.
Remarkably, throughout his five years in country, Tadina never lost a team member. “When you’re out there in the deep stuff,” he told a reporter in 1985, “there’s an unspoken understanding . . . it’s caring about your troops.”
Serving with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol, 74th Infantry Detachment Long Range Patrol, and Company N (Ranger), 75th Infantry, Tadina became the longest continuously serving Ranger in Vietnam and a Special Forces legend.
In 1970, in what would be one of his last patrols, he received his second Silver Star and third Purple Heart. Caught in a communist ambush, Tadina was shot in both legs but refused to be evacuated. The 28-year-old team leader instead stayed with his men and continued to fight until the enemy retreated.
In a New York Times interview he said, “I didn’t particularly like killing people, just outsmarting them.” According to the article, his personal body count in Vietnam was 109.
Tadina returned to the States in 1970 and later served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Grenada for Operation Urgent Fury and with the 1st Infantry Division during Operation Desert Storm.
He retired from the Army as a Command Sergeant Major in 1992, but continued to do security jobs in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Tadina was inducted in the Ranger Hall of Fame in 1995 and passed away on May 29, 2020, at the age of 77.
“Early this morning my Dad … took his last breaths and went to be with all the Rangers before him,” his daughter posted on Facebook.
Today we pay tribute to Patrick Tadina, his family, and all those who served, sacrificed, and died in Vietnam. We will never forget you!