Memory of U.S. Army First Lieutenant
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
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.