Killed in action from machine gun fire, in Quang Tin
Province, South Vietnam
Leo Curtis Aukland was born in Hettinger, North Dakota,
on June 19, 1947, to Gudmund and Helen E.F. (Brown) Aukland.
He had four siblings, sisters Twila, Alma, and Erma, and
brother Leslie. Leo grew up in Bison, South Dakota and
graduated from Bison High School in 1966. All through high
school he worked at Watson Implement. Leo enjoyed taking
people dancing where there was country or western music. Leo
became engaged to Dolores Reinert. He liked to play tricks
and jokes and enjoyed drawing, cars, mechanics, dancing,
roller-skating, and playing games. He liked to cook, but
most of the time he ate it himself as no one thought he
Lance Corporal Leo Curtis Aukland enlisted in the Marines
before graduation because he knew he would soon be drafted.
He left on July 1, 1966, and took basic training at Camp
Pendleton and San Diego, California. He left for Vietnam on
January 19, 1967, attached to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 5th
On September 10, 1967, Marine Lance Corporal Leo Curtis
Aukland was killed while on Operation Swift, a secret
mission to protect and cause a disturbance so another branch
of the service could get soldiers behind enemy lines.
A letter his sister Erma received from Leo two weeks
after he was killed said, in part:
Well, I just got your letter a few days ago, and this is
the first chance I’ve really had to write any letter for
quite some time, so I am trying to get caught up.
Nothing has been going on except daily patrol and things
like that working parties. I made Lance Corporal the
first of August. In February I should be on my way home.
We just got in here at An Hoa last night and we are
supposed to go on an operation within the next week for
twenty-five days…Please excuse my handwriting because I
am still a little nervous about the mortar attack we was
in a couple of nights ago. Well, I must close for now…
Love ya, Leo
Lance Corporal Leo Aukland was buried at the Bison
Cemetery, Bison, South Dakota, with full military honors, on
September 25, 1967. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the
Vietnam Medal, and Sharp Shooter medals. His name can be
found on Panel 26E, Row 041 of the Vietnam Veterans’
Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
LCPL Aukland’s sister, Alma, wrote:
The year my brother was taken from us
was a difficult year for all of us. We lost him on
September 10, 1967 and buried him on September 25th. My
parents went on a trip to Oregon shortly after that and
on the way home had a car accident in Custer, Montana.
Our dad was killed that day, November 7th, and our mom
was in the hospital and bedridden at home for almost a
year after that. On top of that we received my brother’s
belongings from the Marine storehouse in California only
to discover that most of that was not his but belonged
to someone else. We contacted the Marines, but it was
such a hard time with so many young men and women dying
in Viet Nam, that we never did get it straightened out.
We were gratified somewhat by the
return of his camera. We put it away and about ten years
later decided to see if there was a film in it. There
was and we got our only good picture of him holding a
Vietnamese child. He loved the children and had a hard
time when they dumped the garbage from their unit
watching the kids fill up on what they had thrown away…
We were honored some time ago with the
return of his dog tag …
We still miss him and his laughter and
always will but feel honored when people ask about him.
Sara Bonhorst, 7th grade, Stanley County School, Fort
Pierre, South Dakota, March 1, 2005, respectfully submitted
this entry. Information for this writing has been provided
by Alma Aukland, Bison, South Dakota, sister to LCPL Leo