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By Jack Williams, STAFF WRITER
San Diego Union
July 21, 2005

Edward Lindemann's first instinct was to sacrifice his life.

To save his comrades, he pounced on a grenade shortly after it landed near his feet during a reconnaissance mission in Vietnam.

Although the grenade failed to detonate, his action 38 years ago earned him the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest Army decoration for extraordinary heroism.

Mr. Lindemann, who went on to pursue a civilian career in finance, died Sunday at his home in Rancho Bernardo. He was 56.

The cause of death was complications from gastric cancer, which was diagnosed in October 2001, said his wife, Leonor Mercedes Lindemann.

The day after falling on the grenade, Mr. Lindemann was wounded by a B-40 rocket while treating injured troops as a medical aide southeast of An Khe. Despite his injuries, he continued to treat his comrades until falling unconscious.

Those efforts earned him a Bronze Star. His wounds, in the leg and buttocks, forced him to leave the military with an honorable discharge, his wife said.

"They thought he would never be able to walk," she said. "He was in a wheelchair and on crutches for a long time. He began his civilian career on crutches."

During three years of active duty, Mr. Lindemann's decorations included three Purple Hearts. His Distinguished Service Cross led to his admission into the Legion of Valor, an exclusive group that dates to April 23, 1890.

"He wanted to be a medical doctor, which is why he became a medic in the Army," his wife said, "but so many people died in his arms, he knew he couldn't take it. It was too hard."

Edward John Lindemann was born Jan. 8, 1949, in Bremen, Germany, to a U.S. Navy man and his German wife.

After graduating from Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, he joined the Army. He underwent jump-school training in North Carolina and was admitted into special forces and designated a Green Beret.

Attached to Company C, 4th Medical Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Mr. Lindemann was involved in several long-range reconnaissance missions behind enemy lines.

Once, he was wounded by shrapnel in the chin and shoulder. Another time, he took a bullet in the foot near his ankle.

After his discharge, Mr. Lindemann returned to Orange County and attended Fullerton College, where he majored in business. He began his civilian career with Household Finance in Fullerton.

In 1992, he moved to San Diego to work in auto leasing. In 2000, he joined the auto leasing division of Citigroup Inc.

Mr. Lindemann survived a heart attack in 2000 and returned to work, turning down an opportunity with Bank One in Phoenix to avoid disrupting his children's education in San Diego.

A year later, he was forced to go on disability because of his cancer. He underwent surgery for an intestinal blockage in December. The blockage forced him to be fed intravenously and his health steadily declined, his wife said. Mr. Lindemann died in 2005.

He was buried at National Cemetery, Riverside, CA.

Excerpted by the San Diego Union Tribune