US ARMY, VIETNAM, 1967-68
Michael was born to Emil and Betty VanDenEynde in Adrian Michigan in 1949. He had an older sister Marcia and two younger brothers John and Steve. The family moved several times and Michael would spend much of his youth in Ohio.
He enlisted in the Army in 1966. After completing boot camp, AIT and Jump school he was granted a leave which he used to return to Ohio and marry Regina in August, 1967. She was expecting their first child and stayed with her parents in Cygnet, Ohio.
Two weeks later, in September of 1967, he would join other members of the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” in Vietnam. He was assigned to the 17th Cav, 2nd squadron. He spoke very little about his experiences in Vietnam, but this unit was heavily involved in daily combat with the VC. Michael had a short reprieve when he was allowed to return to Ohio to see his newborn son, Michael Jr. He would return to Vietnam in time to be heavily involved in the Tet Offensive. During his time in country Michael was awarded two Bronze stars and be wounded and earn a Purple Heart. He left the Army as a Spec-4 with an honorable discharge.
Michael’s transition back to civilian life was difficult. He was faced with anti-war demonstrators and the demons he brought back from the war. (His children remember house rules they learned early on about like not coming up behind their father or startling him.)
He returned to Ohio and he and Regina set up their home in Findlay. They would have three more children, Tabatha, Patricia and Bonnie. Michael became a truck driver with the Mayflower Moving company. Later he joined the driving fleet of the Pruitt company. Typical of so many returning Vietnam veterans Michael became physically disabled in the mid 1990’s from exposure to Agent Orange. It would take many years before the Veteran’s Administration would officially declare him disabled.
Michael spent much of his later years serving the DAV, the Hancock County Color Guard, and other veteran related activities. He was one of the leaders in establishing the Veterans Memorial, located on Main Street, Findlay.
Michael VanDenEynde Sr. passed away April 15th, 2014 from leukemia directly related to his Agent Orange exposure. He leaves behind his four children, eleven grand children and the number of great-grandchildren has grown to ten. He is laid to rest with his wife Regina in the Maple Grove cemetery located in Findlay Ohio.
His children describe Michael as a “best friend”, a good man, and adored by his grandchildren.