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

 

 



In Memory of U.S. Army Warrant Officer

Curtis Lee Andersen

Lake Preston, South Dakota, Kingsbury County

 March 6, 1944 – September 13, 1968

Killed in action when his helicopter was shot down in South Vietnam during the Tet Offensive

Curtis Lee “Curt” Andersen was born on March 6, 1944, in Volga, South Dakota, to Clayton and Mary “Penny” (Carroll) Andersen. He had one younger sister named Barbara. He grew up in his hometown of Lake Preston where he later attended Lake Preston High School and graduated in 1962. Curt then attended South Dakota State University for four years. Curt played football, acted in school plays, and liked airplanes. Barbara, his sister, describes him as “easy going, big-hearted, caring and sweet.” Sioux Falls Argus Leader mentioned that he “had perfect vision and an IQ of 142.” He was also an ‘outdoor person’ who loved to hunt and fish.

Curt first entered the National Guard. Later, he resigned from the National Guard and joined the Army for training as a helicopter pilot. He was trained at three bases and was one of four honor graduates at Fort Rucker, Alabama, in March of 1968. Curt completed his advanced training on the Cobra gunship helicopter in May of 1968 at Savannah, Georgia.

After a month’s leave, Warrant Officer Andersen was shipped out to Vietnam in June, starting out as a pilot flying scout helicopters, which were particularly vulnerable to enemy attacks because they flew low. He was stationed in the Mekong Delta, just south of Saigon. WO Andersen had many close calls during his three months in Vietnam, but because he was a skillful pilot, he was able to escape injury and capture several times. He was eventually “assigned to Cobra gunship helicopters as they were safer because they were heavily armed” and “flew higher and faster than the scout helicopters,” according to his sister, Barbara. Warrant Officer Curtis Lee Andersen had written home in late August saying he was stationed at Dragon Mountain and flying missions in Ban Me Thant and Duc Lap. In a letter a few days before his death, WO Andersen wrote that, while positioned at Duc Lap, “his craft has been picking up a lot of fire.”

On September 13, 1968, Warrant Officer Curtis Lee Andersen flew his last mission. According to his sister, Barbara, “He volunteered to fly a scout helicopter even though it was his day off. During the mission, an enemy ambush was detected and his ground forces were heading into it.” WO Andersen then flew the helicopter toward the enemy, “an action commonly used to draw hostile fire as a way of warning soldiers of the danger ahead.” While being fired on by the enemy, his helicopter crashed and exploded. His body was recovered and returned to the United States and he was buried with military honors at the Lake Preston city cemetery on September 27, 1968.

WO Curtis Lee Andersen was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart, National Defense Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam campaign ribbon, Air Aviation badge, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, and the expert badge with automatic rifle and pistol bars. His citation for the Silver Star is as follows:

At the time of his death, he was survived by his mother, father, sister, Barbara, her husband, Steve, and their daughter, Stephanie. Currently Barbara, Steve, and their kids, Stephanie and Brad, live in Minnesota. In closing, Barbara wrote, “I am so proud of Curt, but I miss him very much and wish my children could have known him. It’s hard to lose your only sibling, but he was doing his duty and his letters say he believed in what he was doing over there. He died a war hero, but he was always my hero.”

   

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kendra Apland, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota on September 30, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by Curtis’ sister, Barbara Bode, and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 5/30/05 and 6/05/05 issues, plus the Lake Preston Times, 9/19/68, 9/26/68, and 5/14/69 issues. Profile approval by Barbara Bode.

 


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