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

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



In Memory of U.S. Army Sergeant First Class

Gerald Franklin Apperson

Sturgis, South Dakota, Meade County

December 6, 1935 – January 8, 1969

Killed in Action in Dak To, Republic of Vietnam

Gerald Franklin Apperson was born in Sturgis, South Dakota, on December 6, 1935; Sarah E. and Harry C. Apperson adopted him into their family, which included a half brother, Darrell Baldwin. Gerald attended Sturgis High School. While in high school, he participated in sports; he lettered in football, basketball, and track, and he loved to watch baseball. Apperson graduated from Sturgis High School in 1953. After high school he was employed at an oil field in Wyoming, but since “times were not that good in South Dakota” and there wasn’t much of a future in his job, he later quit to join the army. Some months after, he married his wife, Delores, in Sturgis on October 23, 1954. They had three kids: Timothy A., Dennis L., and Allan G. Apperson. His children remember that while they lived in Arlington, Virginia, “He would take us to baseball games to see the Senators play,” and Allan recalls that since he was just a young boy, his mother would write Allan’s letters to his father but that he “would cut out a ‘Peanuts’ cartoon from the paper and send it with the letter.”

Gerald enlisted in the army on March 17, 1954. He was sent to be trained at supply school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and was then assigned to Headquarters Support Company, 43rd Engineer Battalion, Korea, where for four years he was a supply specialist. After his discharge in 1958, he enlisted in the South Dakota Army National Guard as part of Company B, 109th Engineer Battalion, Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Apperson then earned a full time job with the Guard as an administrative and supply technician in Hot Springs until he enlisted in the army again on March 30, 1964, where he trained in Special Forces. After his training, Sergeant Apperson was assigned to the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, and went overseas once again on May 18, 1964, to Korea.

Sergeant Apperson was sent to Vietnam on May 30, 1966. He was stationed at Dak To, Vietnam as a member of the 5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces. While in Vietnam, he fought in Vietnam Counter Offensive Campaign, and the Vietnam Offensive Campaign. Dated April 23, 1965, Gerald sent a letter home to his son and in it he said, “I can hardly wait till I get home and see you. I know we are going to have so much fun together this summer. You take real good care of Mommy and give her a big kiss for me.”

Several years later, Sergeant Apperson’s family got a letter dated January 29, 1969, informing them that

Gerald was aboard a helicopter that crashed and burned deep in enemy held territory on 8 January 1969 while being airlifted from an area after completion of a reconnaissance mission. The cause of the crash was small arms fire from an enemy force. A search was launched to locate and recover Gerald soon after he became missing. This effort continues and will as long as there is a chance of recovery

Several months later the family was notified by Harold R. Aaron, Colonel, Infantry Commanding, that Gerald had died in the helicopter crash on January 8, 1969. The family was informed that he had been killed near Dak To, Republic of Vietnam. Later his body was returned to South Dakota, and he was buried with military honors at Black Hills National Cemetery.

Posthumously promoted to Sergeant First Class, Apperson was awarded Senior Parachutist Badge, Good Conduct Medal – Army 2nd Award, National Defense Service Medal 1st Oak Leaf Cluster, Combat Infantryman Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal with device 60-, Purple Heart, Military Merit Medal, Gallantry Cross with palm, and Expert Marksmanship Badge.

SFC Apperson is survived by Delores N. Norman, spouse, Wrangell, Alaska; Timothy A. Apperson, son, Waxhaw, North Carolina; Dennis L. Apperson, son, Charlotte, North Carolina; Allan G. Apperson, son, Morganton, North Carolina.

Gerald’s family had this to say in closing: “We miss our father, as do all survivors of deceased service men and women. We are proud of his sacrifice, and of all the sacrifices our soldiers have made to keep this country free.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Tashina G. Kallerud, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish South Dakota, on April 20, 2005. Information for this entry was submitted and approved by the Apperson family.


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