In Memory of U.S. Army Warrant Officer
Dean Franklin Bolhouse
Watertown, South Dakota, Codington County
January 21, 1940 -- January 2, 1969
Killed in Action in Hua Nghia, Vietnam
Dean Franklin Bolhouse was born February 21, 1940, in
Watertown, South Dakota, to Arthur and Elsie (Franklin) Bolhouse.
He had two sisters, Verna, and Mavis, and two brothers, Daniel
and David. While growing up, Dean loved to hunt and fish. Dean
attended grade school and high school in Watertown and then
joined the SD Army National Guard. In 1959 he enlisted for four
years in the United States Marine Corps. He earned an Expert
Badge with Automatic Rifle and Pistol Bars and a Black Belt in
Karate while he was there. His family remembers about him that
he had a “wonderful sense of humor.” According to Dean’s
brother, David, “one of his favorite stunts was to fake tripping
with a tray full of food in a restaurant full of people.”
After being honorably discharged from the Marines, Dean
enlisted in the Army and was a dog handler in Korea for a time.
After that, he was stationed at Ft. Sill near Lawton, Oklahoma,
where he met and later married his wife, Lana Jo Gomez, on June
10, 1966. They had two children, Troy Heath and Audra Dene.
Audra was born while Dean was in Vietnam, so he never got to
Bolhouse applied for helicopter flight school at Ft. Sill.
After he was accepted, he did his early training at Ft. Hood,
Texas, and then Fort Wolters and then went on to graduate from
flight school as a Warrant Officer at Ft. Rucker, Alabama in May
of 1968. Shortly after that he was assigned to duty at Cu Chi,
Vietnam, arriving on June 12, 1968.
While serving in Vietnam, WO Bolhouse “ferried troops to and
from the battlefield via Huey helicopter” as part of the 116
Assault Helicopter Company, 269 Combat Aviation Battalion, 1st
Aviation Brigade. Bolhouse entered an extremely dangerous
situation; in his first week in Vietnam, while flying with the
pilot he was due to replace, the other pilot was killed by enemy
fire. He continued flying such hazardous missions under the call
sign “Beekeeper.” In November of 1968, Dean came home on leave
to attend his sister Mavis Isack’s funeral in South Dakota.
When Dean returned to Vietnam, he was reassigned to test-fly
helicopters that needed maintenance. His family thought that was
a less hazardous job and were relieved. Five days later on
January 2, 1969, Warrant Officer Dean Franklin Bolhouse was
fatally injured in a crash when the helicopter “lost tail rotor
and spun in on way back to Cu Chi.” His body was recovered and
returned to the United States and after a funeral service, he
was buried with military honors at Mt. Hope Cemetery in
Watertown, South Dakota.
While Dean was in Vietnam, he earned many military honors and
citations. They include Air Medal with 17 Oak Leaf Clusters,
Valorous Unit Emblem, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam
Service Medal with Silver Star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign
Ribbon, Army Aviator Badge, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross
with Palm Unit Citation Badge, and Republic of Vietnam Civil
Actions Honor Medal 1st Class Unit Citation Badge.
In addition to his widow and children, Dean Bolhouse is
survived by his brothers, David, Sioux Falls, and Daniel,
Savage, Minnesota; and his sister, Verna Griepp, Aberdeen.
This entry was respectfully submitted by Whitney Bartels, 8th
grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on
March 29, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by the
Watertown Public Opinion 1/13/69 issues, South Dakota Vietnam
Veteran’s bonus application, and brother, Dave Bolhouse. Profile
approval by Dave Bolhouse.