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



In Memory of Marine Lance Corporal

Leo Curtis Aukland

Bison, South Dakota, Perkins County

June19, 1947 - September10, 1967

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 could cook.

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 Marines.

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:

Dear Sis,

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 Aukland.


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