SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of  U.S. Army First Lieutenant

Dennis Dale Aschenbrenner 

Lead, South Dakota, Lawrence County

 January 12, 1942 – July 2, 1967

Died of Wounds Received in Action in Vietnam  


Dennis Dale Aschenbrenner was born on January 12, 1942, in Belle Fourche, South Dakota, then moved to Lead, South Dakota. His mother and father were Carl and Evelyn Aschenbrenner. He has one sister, Mary Lou, and two brothers, Dean and David. He attended all of his school in Lead, graduating in 1960. He then went to the University in Missoula, Montana, and graduated with a degree in wildlife technology in 1964. Dennis married Mary Lue Gaughen in Lead on December 28, 1965. His interests included fly fishing and hunting.

Dennis Aschenbrenner entered active service on October 23, 1964, and then attended Officer Cadet School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he was commissioned as a second Lieutenant on August 23, 1965, and then also received training in airborne, communications, and jungle training. On August 7, 1966, Lt. Aschenbrenner was sent overseas to Vietnam as part of Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division. In one letter home dated May 21, 1967, to a family friend he wrote the following:

…The Vietnamese People as a whole are quite poor and they know none of the luxuries which we enjoy such as indoor bathrooms, iceboxes, stoves, running water, etc.

The children have very few if any toys to play with, however they play with one another and seem to enjoy themselves. They have very little if any candy and ice cream for their entire diet consists of rice, fish, tea, and manioc. They know little about modern medicine and still use leaves and some white paste which they make to put on cuts.

Many of the children have sores on their body that are left open to flies, dirt, and bugs. Many of the kids do not go to school however they seem quite intelligent and learn things easily, especially the English language. …

First Lieutenant Dennis Dale Aschenbrenner was killed in action on July 2, 1967, in Vietnam as a result of a gunshot wound received in hostile ground action. His wife was sent a telegram from the Adjutant General of the Air Force containing the following words: “First Lieutenant Dennis Dale Aschenbrenner was killed in action on July 2, 1967.” His body was recovered and returned to the United States and buried with military honors at the Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota.

Aschenbrenner received many awards; two of the highest were the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with a “V” device. The following is a copy of his Silver Star citation:

His Bronze Star had been awarded “for heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force… on 18 February 1967… when he led a relief force through the darkness to aid a hard hit platoon” and then “using the limited resources at his disposal, Lieutenant Aschenbrenner successfully directed the helicopter to the landing zone and helped carry the wounded to the aircraft.”

Lt. Aschenbrenner is survived by his widow, Mary Lue Roesler, Scottsdale, Arizona; his mother, Evelyn, his sister, Mary Lou Raetz, and his brothers, Dean and David.

Recently the “Moving Wall” came to Belle Fourche and the Aschebrenner family was in attendance at the special ceremony. At that time, David said that he hoped that the sacrifice of his brother, Lt. Dennis Aschenbrenner, will never be forgotten. I will remember the service and the sacrifice of Dennis Aschenbrenner.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Eddie Cole, 8th grader, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, S.D., on October 10, 2005. Information and approval for this entry was provided by Mary Lue Roesler, widow, Scottsdale, Arizona.


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