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



In Memory of U.S. Army Specialist Fifth Class

Richard LeRoy Cummins

Kimball, South Dakota, Brule County

February 26, 1946 -- October 10, 1969

Killed in Aircraft Crash in Vietnam

Richard LeRoy Cummins, called LeRoy by family and friends, was born February 26, 1946, in Mitchell, Davison County, South Dakota to Charles Eugene and Berniece Celia (Wannamaker) Cummins. He had one brother, John, and one sister, Diana. Although born in Mitchell, Richard’s hometown was Kimball in Brule County. In high school, Richard participated in football, basketball, and track, and was a class officer. He also was a talented singer-actor who participated in the class plays and summer theater productions. He graduated from Kimball High School in 1965 and went to Northern State College for a year. He is remembered as being “a happy person, friendly, courteous, likeable and helpful. He had a lot of friends and was never without a girl on his arm.” After the service, Richard hoped to become a commercial pilot and fly all over the world.

On March 21, 1967, Richard LeRoy Cummins entered the U.S. Army. He did basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, and technical training at Signal School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. There he first completed a class in fixed plant carrier equipment repair and then a course in multiplex equipment model MX-106 repair. He went overseas to Vietnam on January 1, 1968, as a part 327th Signal Company, 972nd Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade. Cummins completed two tours of duty in Vietnam and “was beginning the return trip home” to be discharged at the time of his death.

On October 10, 1969, Richard LeRoy Cummins was killed “while a passenger on a military aircraft [which] crashed” in the province of Kien Giang in Vietnam. Richard was first reported as missing in action; two military men gave the news to Richard’s dad at work and followed him home to tell Richard’s mom. Two weeks later the military men visited again and told them Richard had been killed in the plane crash. His body was returned to the United States and was buried with military honors at Kimball Cemetery. On January 20, 1970, additional information about Richard’s death was provided to the Cummins’ family. The Chief of the Casualty and Medical Evacuation Division wrote the following:

…Richard was on Long Binh during the first week of October to ship his hold baggage and to begin processing for his departure to the United States. On October 8, Richard returned to Rach Gia by military aircraft to pick up his medical records and his individual weapon which were required to complete his processing. On October 10, Richard again caught a ride by aircraft to return to Long Binh. Upon taking off the Air Force C-123 crashed into a nearby field, and there were no survivors. Results of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Air Force confirmed the initial determination that the crash was caused by a power stall. …

Richard was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with One Bronze Service Star, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Sharpshooter Badge with automatic rifle bar, and the Marksman Badge with rifle bar. Posthumously he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the Military Merit Medal.

Among the letters of condolence that Richard’s family received were General Creighton W. Abrahams, United States Army, Commanding Officer; General W.C. Westmoreland, United States Army, Chief of Staff; Stanley R. Resor, Secretary of the Army; Clarence D. Bell, Senator from Pennsylvania; and even one from President Richard Nixon. The letter reads as follows:

Currently Richard Cummins is survived by his mother, Berniece Cummins; his sister, Diana Kaderabek; and his brother, John Cummins. His mother, Berniece, now in the Aurora-Brule Nursing Home in White Lake, is the last living Gold Star (Vietnam) mother in that area. In closing, Richard’s family had this to say: “LeRoy has been very much missed…every Memorial Day we pay tribute to LeRoy and all his comrades. He is never forgotten….”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Matt Kerney, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on October 4, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by an application for a veteran’s bonus, Brule County News, 10/16/69 and 10/23/69 issues. Additional information and profile approval by the Cummins family via Diana and Kaleena Kaderabek.


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