Ken was a United States Army Specialist, assigned to the 4th Infantry Division. Growing up on Staten Island, Ken lived in Tottenville and New Brighton before moving with his mother and sister to Port Richmond. He enlisted in the Army a year after graduation, and took his infantry training at Ft. Jackson in South Carolina. His tour of duty began on Feb. 25, 1967. In Vietnam he was assigned to Alpha and E companies, 2nd of the 35th Infantry, Cacti Regiment.
Ken’s first day of combat – March 12, 1967 – lasted a staggering total of seventeen hours, and when they took the toll, fourteen Cacti members were dead, including Ken’s lieutenant, Stephen Karopcyzc, who was later awarded with the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Ken saw a decent amount of action in Vietnam and was known by his old platoon mates as a quiet and likeable guy who tried his best, pulled his own weight, and did his part. Eventually he became the company clerk and had only 13 days left “in country” when the Tet offensive broke out. Once again Ken found himself back in the field.
On Feb. 11, 1968, Ken and his platoon buddy Andy Cardinale went to their guard positions knowing they would be airlifted out by helicopter the next morning to begin processing in preparation to return to the U.S. He never made it out. He was killed in action in Quang Tin, South Vietnam.
Specialist Fourth Class Kenneth Schneider was killed by mortar fire that night, the 127th soldier from his battalion to die that year. He was twenty years old. His grave is on Staten Island, in Moravian Cemetery. His name appears on the Vietnam Memorial on panel number 38E, line 080.
Following his death, Ken’s mother came across a book of poetry which he had written and had been too shy to show to anyone – even her. It was there she found an entry about a soldier fighting for liberty and freedom. “We kneel and pray it’s over and go about our way, for gone now is the soldier and peace is here to stay.”