Theodore (Teddy) Ellis Baltezore was born in Sioux Falls,
South Dakota, on March 10, 1948, to Leland (Earl) and
Genevieve Elizabeth (Ritter) Baltezore. He had four
brothers; Robert, Frank, Mike, and John, and two sisters; Barbra
and Laura. He moved with his family to Huron in 1948, to
Faulkton in 1950, and in 1955 to Gettysburg, South Dakota.
Theodore grew up in Gettysburg and graduated from Gettysburg
High School in 1967. He participated in FFA while in high
Spec4 Theodore Baltezore entered the Army in Sioux Falls,
South Dakota, on April 19, 1968 taking basic training at
Fort Lewis, Washington, and further training at Fort Leonard
Wood, Missouri. He began his tour of duty in Vietnam on
September 9, 1968, attached to the Support Platoon of
Company D, 1st Battalion, 61st Infantry Regiment, 5th
Infantry Division, as a driver and radio operator for the
platoon leader, Lieutenant Brian Heath. The mission of the
Support Platoon was to stage supplies and ammunition on the
airstrip of a Marine Fire Support Base known as Landing Zone
Vandergrift so they could be flown to the unit in the field.
Enemy gunners from the surrounding mountains frequently
attacked Landing Zone Vandergrift.
Army Specialist 4 Theodore Ellis Baltezore and Lieutenant
Heath were mortally wounded by mortar fire on the morning of
June 20, 1969, when a 122-millimeter rocket struck them.
Spec 4 Baltezore was awarded the Commendation Medal for acts
above and beyond the call of duty. His sister, Laura Novak,
He was an energetic, high-spirited,
skinny red headed guy. He loved life and all the fun
that went with it. He loved to play basketball, track,
and he loved music and dance. He loved working on his
old car to keep it running. I was away at college when
he was in high school. But I remember doing my student
teaching at Pierre, SD and the senior high girls in my
class asked if I had a brother named Ted!!!
Burial was held at the Sacred Heart Church Cemetery in
Gettysburg, South Dakota, on July 2, 1969. The name of Army
Specialist 4 Theodore Ellis Baltezore can be found on Panel
22W, Row 095 of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in
In a letter to the family dated June 27, 1969, General W.
E. Westmoreland wrote, in part:
The priceless gift of life is the most
noble one a soldier can make to protect his loved ones
at home and to safeguard the cherished beliefs for which
this Nation stands. Our strength and security rests on
the loyalty and devotion of American soldiers who today
safeguard freedom as did the American soldiers in
earlier times of national peril. You can treasure the
thought that for his gift of life your son is noble
among men who share the blessings of freedom.
Aaron Carda, 8th grade, Stanley County Middle School, Fort
Pierre, South Dakota, respectfully submitted this entry on
January 31, 2006. Information was provided by Carmen Hericks,
Gettysburg Schools; the Potter County Library; Laura Novak,
San Diego, California, sister to Specialist 4 Theodore