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



In Memory of United States Air Force Major

              Alvie Waine Gapp

Salem, South Dakota, McCook County

July 8, 1930 – June 7, 1967

Killed in Action in Southern Vietnam


Alvie Waine Gapp was born in Sioux City, Iowa, on July 8, 1930, to Earl and Mary Gapp. He had four sisters, Jean, Connie, June, and Ila. He moved with his family to Salem, South Dakota, where he attended school. He was very involved in sports, from basketball, football, and baseball to track and bowling. He also found time to be a class officer, participate in the class play, as well as being active in chorus and band. He graduated from Salem High School in 1948 and continued on to college at South Dakota State College. There he continued to excel in sports and music. In June of 1952 he graduated with a degree in science. He is remembered for many things, among them his great sense of humor and practical joking and his life-long talent in singing and sports, especially bowling.

Alvie first entered the service on March 12, 1953, at Sioux Falls. He was trained as a pilot at Marana Air Base, Arizona, and then graduated from jet fighter school at Williams Air Force Base in Chandler, Arizona, earning his wings and commission on June 10, 1954, which is the same day he married his wife, Doris Jeanette Erickson, in Phoenix, Arizona. They had four children, David, Danny, Deanna, Douglas. In addition to an early overseas assignment in Morocco, North Africa from 1958-1960, the growing Gapp family had duty assignments from Nevada to Massachusetts; from Denver, Colorado to Norman, Oklahoma, where Alvie “used to take turns with the older sons taking them on his motor-scooter to football games at the University of Oklahoma in Norman.” While stationed there, Alvie also managed to attain a master’s degree in mathematics in June of 1966, shortly before going to Vietnam. He hoped one day to be a math teacher. In September of 1966, Alvie Gapp was promoted to Major.

Major Alvie Gapp was deployed to South Vietnam in October of 1966, as part of 5 Air Commando Squadron, United States Air Force, where he piloted a U-10 light unarmed aircraft. He earned the Air Medal on February 20, 1967, for “meritorious achievement, while participating in sustained aerial flight as a combat crew member in Southeast Asia from October 30, 1966, to December 26, 1966.” Also in the citation it mentions his “outstanding airmanship and courage in the successful accomplishment of important missions under extremely hazardous conditions including hostile ground fire.” He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross (posthumously) for “extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight on March 15, 1967,” when he flew his U-10 “on a leaflet and loudspeaker mission.” Twenty-five enemy combatants are said to have turned themselves in because of his mission that day.

Major Alvie Gapp was a very accomplished pilot. He often would volunteer to fly dangerous missions in place of younger less practiced pilots so that they wouldn’t have to face the tremendous hazard, which in the eyes of many, makes Alvie a true hero, “brave enough to face danger in place of, and (hope) to spare someone else’s life in the process.”

On June 7, 1967, Major Alvie Waine Gapp crashed during takeoff from Bien Hoa Air Base in Vietnam and died from the injuries he received. He was 36 years old. His body was returned to the United Sates where his funeral service was held at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on June 16. He was buried with military honors at the Scandinavian Cemetery in Bryant, South Dakota. At the time, his children were very young: David, 11; Daniel, 10; Deanna, 6; and Douglas, 4.

Alvie Gapp is currently survived by his four children: Lt. Col. David W. (Jeanna) Gapp; Daniel A. (Beth) Gapp; Mrs. Deanna L. (Roccie) Zappia, all of Tucson, Arizona; and Douglas E. (Kim) Gapp, Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, Alvie’s sisters survive: Jean (Clarence) Guenthner, Armour, South Dakota; June Keena, Las Vegas; Ila (Harris) Forster, Tucson and Norfolk, Nebraska; and Connie Holben, Tucson. His wife, Jeanette, is buried beside him in the Scandinavian Cemetery in Bryant, and his parents, Earl and Mary Gapp, are buried in Tucson.

In closing, his family said of him that they believe not only was Alvie’s death a great loss to his family but also to America. “He was kind, funny, and talented in athletics and music. We, as a country, lost a great teacher of math, a patriotic citizen, a brave and accomplished pilot, and soldier….Dad had much to contribute with his many gifts to our family, and to our nation.” They wrote that “the pain of this loss never ceases and we all still miss Alvie.”

The Air Force didn’t only lose a skilled aviator that day, but a loving parent, an enthusiastic teacher, and a selfless hero.


This entry was respectfully submitted by Jeff Young, 8th Grade, Spearfish South Dakota, on March 30, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by an application for a SD Vietnam Veterans’ bonus, The Salem Special, issues: June 8 and 15, 1967, and the Gapp family via Deanna Zappia, daughter. Profile approval by Deanna Zappia, daughter.


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