ISU Gold Star Ceremony will honor Cresco's 'Little Soldier Boy' on Nov. 9

AMES, Iowa – Fifty years after Ted Rule graduated from Crestwood High School in Cresco, his classmates honored the fallen Vietnam hero with a "Little Soldier Boy" statue. On Monday, Nov. 9, Iowa State University will memorialize Rule in a Veterans Day observance on campus.

Rule and two other former students who died in military service will be recognized during the Gold Star Hall Ceremony, 3:15 p.m. in the Memorial Union Great Hall. It is free and open to the public.

Former students are eligible for name placement in the Gold Star Hall — the war memorial in the university's Memorial Union — if they graduated from or attended Iowa State full time for one or more semesters, and died while in military service in a war zone. As names become known, they are added to the wall and the soldiers are remembered in the university's annual ceremony.

Although Rule's name was previously engraved on the memorial wall, he has not been honored in a ceremony. He will be remembered with another ISU fallen soldier who died during the same battle.

A life cut short

Ted Rule

Rule was born March 24, 1943, in Marshalltown. His family moved to the Waterloo area where he belonged to the Bennington Boosters 4-H Club and served as a candle lighter and usher for the Methodist Church. The family eventually moved to the Lime Springs area and Rule went to school in Cresco.

At Crestwood High School, Rule was involved in basketball, football, wrestling, track, the class play, student council, band, yearbook, boys’ glee club and mixed chorus. He held a number of leadership positions within these activities. Following graduation, Rule attended Iowa State for three years. He was in ROTC for two years and worked as headwaiter for the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Rule enlisted in the Army in 1968, marrying Mary Ellen Shindler at Fort Ord, California. After graduating in October from Ranger School, Fort Benning, Georgia, Rule was deployed to Vietnam. He arrived Nov. 7, 1968.

When he arrived in Vietnam, Rule was a first lieutenant serving as an Infantry Unit Commander with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. The 1st infantry, also known as the “Big Red One,” was stationed north and west of Saigon to secure the approaches to the capital city. 

Just 27 days after Rule arrived, according to the official report, his unit was, “engaged in military operations involving conflict with an armed hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam,” north of Loc Ninh, Phuoc Long Province. Rule served as a platoon leader of his mechanized company, advancing toward an enemy base camp from which it was receiving enemy fire.

According to the report, "Lt. Rule directed his men’s movement from atop an armored personnel carrier. When an insurgent bunker halted the advance of his element, Lt. Rule disregarded his personal safety and maneuvered through the hail of hostile rounds toward the fortification. He then threw several hand grenades into the emplacement, which killed its occupants and destroyed the structure. Lt. Rule mounted his track. While moving toward another bunker, he was mortally wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade."

Prior to his death, Rule had been awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Sharpshooter Badge with automatic rifle and rifle bars, Marksman Badge and Ranger Tab.

For his actions at Loc Ninh, Rule was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Purple Heart and The Silver Star for gallantry in action.

Rule's Silver Star citation states, “His courageous initiative and heroic determination were instrumental in killing several North Vietnamese soldiers, and significantly contributed to the successful accomplishment of his unit’s mission. First Lieutenant Rule’s unquestionable valor in close combat against numerically superior hostile forces is in keeping with the finest traditions of the military services and reflects great credit upon himself, the 1st Infantry Division, and the United States Army."

At the 2011 dedication of the “Little Soldier Boy” statue in Cresco, his friend John Kramer stated, “When he died, he went in style – doing his job the best he knew how. There isn’t a man in this room, if given a choice of how he was to leave this earth, would choose any other way – doing the best he knew how.”