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



In Memory of U.S. Army Private First Class

Michael Jerome Gruenwald

Redfield, South Dakota, Spink County

 November 24, 1943 – March 11, 1969

Died of Wounds in South Vietnam

Michael Jerome Gruenwald was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota, on November 24, 1943, to Jerome and Carolyn (Moeller) Gruenwald. He was raised on a farm 8 miles west of Redfield with his brothers: Wilfred, Francis, Joe, Richard, Jerome, and Douglas; and his sisters: Mary, Karen, Janice, Elizabeth, Jean, Irene, Margaret, and Norita. He was the 6th of the 15 children. He had strong Catholic beliefs and attended mass regularly on Sundays. During the week he went to school in Zell until 8th grade. He, as well as his siblings, had to stay in town during the school week and then walked five miles to get home on the weekends. He then went to high school in Redfield.

While at home Michael and his siblings had very little play time because they had chores and homework to do. They had no TV or stereos, just an old record player. So when there was time to play, Michael and his brothers and sister would make up games with the things they had.

According to his sister, Irene, “Michael was his own man. He did as he thought, sometimes right and sometimes wrong. He liked to party and dance with the young ladies; he was a very good looking young man.” When he was 18, Michael went to California, and he stayed with two of his older sisters and their families. He had several jobs in and around San Diego. While in California, Michael was in a motorcycle accident that almost killed him. He was drafted into the military before all of his scars were healed so he was not taken in the draft the first time. In 1967, before being drafted, Michael married and shortly after, he entered the service.

Michael Gruenwald was drafted around September 18, 1968, at Redfield. He was sent to Fort Ord, California, for basic training and then to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma for artillery school. He went over seas to Vietnam on February 5, 1969, as an Army Private First Class, Battery A, 1st Battalion 30th ARTY, 1st Cavalry, Air Mobile Division.

He served from February 12, 1969 – March 11, 1969. After he went to Vietnam, he battled for 31 days until he died of wounds in South Vietnam. He was in a “rocket and mortar attack during the third battle of LZ GRANT.” For his bravery and courage, he was awarded with a Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart. Michael was only 24 years old at the time of his death.

His funeral was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on March 22, 1969, at 10 a.m. His casket was draped with an American flag. As the pallbearers carried him out of the church, many Honor Guard and Color Guard formed rows to honor him and his service. He was buried in the Church cemetery in Zell.

His survivors were his parents, six brothers, eight sisters, and his two grandmothers.


This entry was respectfully submitted by Breanna Kaitfors, 8th grade student, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, October 3, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by The Redfield Press issues March 13, 1969, and March 27, 1969 and Vietnam Veterans Bonus Application. Additional information and profile approval provided by Irene Amundson, Redfield.


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