See possible stories under each war the veterans participated in.
Korean War USMC Chosin Reservoir veteran Charles "Chuck" Thielen died on February 26, 2017. He spoke to us two times, the last being on February 12, 2011. He taught American history for years at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Obit. Chuck's wife Nancy died on March 22, 2017, at age 81.
LTC David D. Gray, who fought in Operation Desert Storm with the South Dakota National Guard, died on February 3, 2017. He spoke to us on July 10, 2010, along with COL Arthur "Bucky" O'Connor. Photo show him during 1991 bivouac in Saudi Arabian desert west of Hafar Al Batin. obit
WWII Omaha Beach "first wave" US Army veteran Wayne M. Brewster died on October 2, 2016. He spoke to our Group several times during the past decade. His military memoir is included on this site. He is buried in Woonsocket, South Dakota. obit
Condolences to the family of WWII Coastguard veteran Gordon Lease on the death of his wife Georgia, aged 91, on October 4, 2016. Their daughter had earlier died in the Rapid City flood. Funeral is on October 12. more
Jose "Joe" Roybal of Rapid City died on September 4, 2016, just making his 96th birthday, surrounded by his six children. He went ashore at Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy. "
I landed on Normandy beach on June 7, 1944. I was in the second wave to land on Normandy beach. I was in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. I was in the First Army 28th Division under Gen. Dwight Eisenhower."
He fought at Saint Lo and in the Battle of the Bulge and Ardennes Forest. After entering the army in 1942, he was at England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, and finally Germany, until 1946. obit
USMC veteran Dick Perkins, a Pacific island machine gunner in on the invasions with Loyd Brandt, died August 1, 2016. Even after moving to Louisiana from Black Hawk to be with his daughter, Dick regularly read our monthly meeting notices and kept in touch. Dick would have been 97 on August 16. obit, Arlington
US Navy veteran (1958-61) Gary Lillie of Piedmont passed away on July 14, 2016. He was an enthusiastic supporter of our group for years. Our condolences to wife Carol Valentine. Services are scheduled for Wednesday, July 20th at the United Methodist Church in Piedmont (10:00 visitation, 11:00 service, 12:00 lunch)--followed by burial srvice at Black Hills National Cemetery. Photo is from his memoir (click on name above).
Our prayers go to the family of Col. Debra Shattuck (USAF ret) whose husband Clifford Shattuck died on March 7, 2016, after the rapid onset of an aggressive cancer. Cliff was a US Army veteran (1st Cavalry Division) who served as an air traffic controller in Vietnam from 1969-1970.
Vera Hoff died on February 27, 2016. She will be missed at our monthly meetings, where she brought the perspective of the German Russian Heritage Society. Condolences to husband Lt. Richard Hoff and family.
Dallas Blomquist, our Black Hills Veterans Writing Group’s Guadalcanal and Peleliu USMC veteran, BAR man and Purple Heart winner, died on Monday morning, October 19, 2015. Our sympathies to wife Darlene. Funeral was Wednesday, 10 am, Kinkade Funeral Home, Sturgis.
Dennis Edwards (USAF ret) died August 23, 2015. He spoke to our group on July 13, 2013, about his research interest in the Tuskegee airmen of WW2. He also served as head of the American Legion Post on St. Patrick St. in Rapid City and sometimes wrote patriotic columns for the local newspaper. obit
Army Col. Dale Friend died on August 4, 2015. He was born on August 8, 1933. He was a combat leader and paratrooper during the Vietnam War, including Operation Junction City the last day of the Tet Offensive on February 22, 1967. When not leading soldiers into jungle combat, then Captain Friend was stationed at a base camp in Bien Hoa. "You'd go out for about a month and then go back to base camp for three or four days and get your act together." obit
Bob Hvalin, US Army veteran of the early 50s in postwar Germany, died July 23, 2015. While living in Rapid City, he regularly attended our meetings before moving back to his boyhood home in Chicago. He wrote several pieces of his memories of World War II-era Chicago. obit
Tom McDill of Custer, a Bataan Death March survivor and POW for more than three years, was forced to work in Japanese coal mines. He and Mrs. McDill attended the meeting on August 14, 2010, along with three other POWs (Had Taylor, Charlie Anderson, Eddie Kodet), all of whom have since passed. This story, by LTC George Larson, appeared in Military magazine, April, 2006. He died on April 29, 2015. obit
Our condolences and prayers to Pat Asmussen, decade-long member of our Group, on the recent loss of her mother in eastern South Dakota.
Charlie Anderson, WWII USAAF tail gunner Charles Anderson of Oral, South Dakota, was held for 350 days in a German prison camp in Poland. Once liberated, he walked for 84 days and 600 miles to the Rhine River, ending up weighing 85 lbs. He died March 2, 2015. When he spoke to our Group several years ago, then at the Rapid City Public Library, several city firetrucks parked in the middle of Quincy Street in front of the library, to attend the meeting and talk. obit
Henry Waldman, US Army veteran, often sat in the front row at our meetings with wife Mary Lee. Henry died on January 9, 2015. He served as a soldier in Salzburg, Austria, and Livorno, Italy--touring much of Europe at the time. He was one of many SDSM&T faculty who were active in our Group.
Harry Putnam, US Navy veteran of WWII, died Monday, September 15, 2014, age 91, at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Ft. Meade, SD. He read his poem "Veterans" to our group while speaking about his wartime experiences. obit
Remembering D-Day and Cpt. Walter Marchand of the VA Hospital in Sturgis who led troops ashore at Utah Beach.
An SDSMT professor emeritus, he recently was on a personally commander-guided tour and lunch at Ellsworth AFB, along with Bill, Chuck and Brad. They all climbed a high ladder into a B1-B cockpit. He had recently moved into Echo Ridge from his longtime home off West Boulevard. obit
Ken Halligan, 92, died January 29, 2014. On August 15, 1942, Ken entered the U.S. Army to become a Signal Corp lineman with the 101st Signal Battalion. He was attached to the 7th Infantry Division as “Special Forces.” Ken received several awards and citations, including the Purple Heart, and had achieved the rank of 1st Sgt. by the time he was honorably discharged. obit
Our sympathies to Bob Drew (Battle of the Bulge, Ramagen) on the passing of his wife Sheryl on January 4, 2014, in Parker, AZ, where they go for the winter.
Russel Frink was at the Fort Meade VA Hospital/Hospice in Sturgis when he passed away on December 26, 2013. Our sympathies to wife Pam and family. Russel served on the USS Fletcher in the Solomons during WW2.
Condolences to WW2 bomber pilot Tom Orville whose wife Nancy recently passed away.
U.S. Navy attack submariner Jim Lockhart of Rapid City described life below the Pacific Ocean during WWII when he met with the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group on August 9, 2011. He and wife Elizabeth were regulars at the meetings.
Kenneth C Donnenwirth joined the US Navy in 1943 and served on two escort carriers in the Pacific as Signalman 3rd class. He was on the USS Savo. Ken came now and then to our meetings. A neighbor of Richard Perkins in Black Hawk(see WWII), Donnenwirth died on 10-8-13.
Alan Herbert of Belle Fourche died on January 19, 2013. He spoke to our Group on 9-12-09 about his experiences as AFN radio broadcaster in Occupied German and later of his combat experience as 3rd Army's correspondent in Korea. obit
Charles Gerlach spoke to our Group in 2010 about his US Navy experiences in the Battle of the Atlantic aboard the USS Guadalcanal as it captured the German sub U-505 which contained the "software" for the Enigma Machine. He
died on 9-7-13 in a car accident in Rapid City, which also claimed the life of his wife Audrey. Gerlach's brother Delbert, a School of Mines student, died at Iwo Jima in 1942. obit
Rev. Peter J. Dahlberg, no stranger to the snowy foxholes of the Battle of the Bulge, passed away on January 9, 2013. Our condolences go out to wife Mary Ellen and family. Read more on masthead tabs under "World War II." obit
Listen to Jim Kent's two audio interviews of Sturgis's Valdemar "Wally" Dahlquist, who worked on B-24s in WWII Italy, including a story of him by US Army Vietnam veteran Dave Henry of Spearfish. Dahlquist died October 16, 2011.On April 10, 2011, WWII WASP pilot Violet Cowden died. Born in a South Dakota sod house, she taught school in Spearfish before joining the war effort to fly P-51 Mustangs (and 18 other planes) from factories to points destined for war zones. more
Our condolences to the family of Keith Christensen on his passing on January 28, 2011. He served in Europe in WWII as a non-commissioned officer and the Korean War as an officer, retiring from the Army Reserve with the rank of major in 1978.
His book Hero for a Day tells of his WWII experiences. Later, he says, "I took a direct commission in 1949 and was recalled to Korea, where I was stationed in August of 1951, Co. G., 24th Infantry, and with Co. D., 27th Infantry at Koje Do from December 1951 to February 1952."
We sadly note the passing of WWII POW and US Army Air Corps tail gunner Harold "Had" Taylor (click for story) on November 17, 2010. He spoke to us on August 14th and again on September 9th. We were all impressed by his humbling story and his energetic and forceful delivery. Also at the August 14th meeting were WWII POWs Charles Anderson, Tom McDill, and Eddie Kodet (who died on August 29th).
We regret the passing of one of our own, Rex Alan Smith, on October 5, 2010. Rex spoke to us on more than one occasion and helped line up speakers Russel Frink and Jim Lockhart, who were featured in one of his books, Pacific War Stories.
Smith remembers sitting in Stallings Drug Store in Rapid City when he heard news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He made his way into the Army Corps of Engineers as a civilian employee and eventually served on Navy ships throughout the battle-torn Pacific. Click on Smith's name to read his own story (with picture of him at the controls of the Kingman, Manila Bay, 1943).
In sorrow we learn of the passing of WWII POW Eddie Kodet on August 29, 2010, who was with us at our last meeting on August 14, 2010.
It was also sad to hear that US Navy PT sailor John W. Fuller died on August 11, 2010. John spoke to our Group on March 13, 2010, about his combat experiences in the Battle of Leyte Gulf and the retaking of the Philippines during WWII. Read his story "John Fuller Goes to War."
Condolences to Chuck and Grace Childs on the loss of their son, Charles L. Childs, aged 64. Read more about their Vietnam hero son on our site.
Check out our latest links to the American military cemeteries in Manila and Tunisia, containing the final resting places of our fallen troops in the WWII invasions of the Pacific and North Africa, with very likely the graves of our own family members or fellow combatants. See a 2004 photo of Omaha Beach.
While there, don't forget to listen to "Searching for a Soldier's Grave" sung by WWII-vintage singer Hank Williams (or click picture left, then mimimize).