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



In Memory of US Army Specialist Fourth Class

Ronald Charles Gehler

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County

September12, 1943 -- February 15, 1967

Killed in Action in Vietnam

Ronald Charles Gehler, son of Ronald C. Gehler and Blanche Peterson, was born on September 12, 1943, in Fullerton, California. Ronald’s family moved to Sioux Falls when he was a baby where he attended public schools. During his youth, Ronald was a carrier for the Argus Leader. Ronald has a sister, Bonnie Sperle, and a brother, Thomas Peterson.

Ronald Gehler joined the California National Guard in Anaheim in 1960 and transferred to the regular army in Sioux Falls in 1961. He served the next three years in Germany. According to his family, while in Germany, Ronald would take his military leave and tour historic sites in England, France, Italy and Spain. He was interested in history. He was always reading non-fiction books about famous people in history. He was also interested in politics and followed every election even when he was out of the country. He was always asking family members to send newspaper articles about the elections. After his discharge, Ronald attended Denver Technical College in Colorado studying electronic engineering before reenlisting on November 2, 1965. Ronald went to Vietnam on July 21, 1966, as part of Company B, 1st Battalion 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

Ronald died in South Vietnam along the Cambodian Border on February 15, 1967, “as the result of gunshot wound received in hostile ground action.” Ronald was awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal for heroism. He also received two medals of honor from the Republic of Vietnam, the Cross of Gallantry with Palm and the Military Merit Medal.

The award of the Bronze Star Medal for heroism reads as follows:

For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force. On 15, February 1967, Specialist Four Gehler, a member of Company B, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Infantry Division, was acting as the rear security man for his platoon as Company B was conducting a sweep around a company besieged by three North Vietnamese Army rifle companies. Specialist Four Gehler became engaged by several automatic weapons and immediately returned fire, causing the enemy to halt their advance, thereby enabling several of his comrades to move out of the automatic fire killing zone. Specialist Four Gehler continued firing and maneuvering against the enemy until he was mortally wounded by the intense enemy fire. His actions were instrumental in the ability of his platoon to rapidly regroup its members, in order to more effectively carry out its mission. Specialist Four Gehler, in his heroic actions, exemplified the highest traditions of the military service. His outstanding display of aggressiveness, courage and devotion to duty reflects very great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

The citation of the Military Merit Medal reads as follows:

Courageous combatants, well know for their sacrifices, who always exhibited a spirit of good will and cooperation. They assisted the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces in blocking the Red Wave of aggression from engulfing South Vietnam and Southeast Asia. With their enthusiasm and exemplary devoted manner, they willingly executed all of their entrusted missions and set a brilliant example for their comrades in arms. They died in the performance of their missions. Their losses have been greatly mourned by both their American and Viet- namese comrades in arms.

Ronald’s last words to his family before he boarded the plane to Vietnam was, “I am not going to try to be a hero. I’m going to Vietnam to fight for my family and for my country.” He will forever be a hero to his family.

Ronald was buried with military honors at Hills of Rest Memorial Park in Sioux Falls. He was the seventh Sioux Falls soldier to lose his life in service of his country in Vietnam.

Ronald is survived by his brother, Thomas Peterson, his sister, Bonnie Sperle and her children, Deanna, Roger and Jared.

Center Photo: Two of Ronald’s posthumous awards: Cross of Gallantry with Palm and Military Merit Medal

This entry was respectfully submitted by Karl Kerutis of Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, October 4, 2005. Information for this entry provided by Vietnam Veterans Bonus Application, and the Sioux Falls Argus Leader, 2/16/67, 2/23/67. Additional information, photos, and profile approval provided by Bonnie Sperle, sister, and Thomas Peterson, brother.


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