In Memory of U.S. Army
Private First Class
Glad Valley, South Dakota,
April 27, 1948 – September
Died of Wounds Received in Action in Vietnam
Vern Allen Harris was born on April 27, 1948, at
Mobridge, South Dakota, to Emerson and Betty (Brinkman)
Harris. Vern was a brother to Rebecca, Barton, James, and
John. He was raised in the Glad Valley area. He went to Glad
Valley Rural grade school. He went to Lemmon High School for
his freshman and sophomore years then went to Isabel High
School for his junior and senior years, graduating in 1966.
He attended Northern State College in Aberdeen for about a
year and a half - until January 1968 when he joined the
service. Before he joined the service, he worked as a ranch
hand during the summers. Vern liked horses, ranching, and
playing football, wrestling, and dancing, as well as
spending time with his family and fiancée, Betty Ann
On February 1, 1968, Vern Allen Harris enlisted into the
U.S. Army. He was trained in Fort Lewis, Washington, where
he did basic training and Advanced Military Training. Vern
was sent overseas in June 1968, where he was stationed in Cu
Chi in Vietnam as a machine gunner and Private First Class,
Company B, First Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry
PFC Vern Harris died at 5:40 P.M. on September 15, 1968,
in the Republic of Vietnam when he was caught in intense
hostile fire from the enemy. Mr. and Mrs. Harris were first
notified that Vern had died by a gentleman in an army
uniform who came to their house.
His body was returned to the United States and escorted
home by Sgt. Michael Olson. The family was not allowed to
view the body. The funeral was at the United Church of
Christ in Isabel on September 28th and he was buried with
military honors at the Hillsview Cemetery in Isabel.
In early October, Mr. and Mrs. Harris received a letter
from Vern’s commanding officer. The following is a quote
from the letter:
It is with deep regret that I must
write this letter offering my sympathy
to you on the recent death of your son… As a member of
Vern was well liked by all his superiors and
contemporaries. He was an
excellent soldier, performing all tasks assigned to him
in a cheerful and
efficient manner. His death came as a great shock to all
who knew him.
PFC Vern Harris received the Bronze Star Medal, Purple
Heart Medal, National Defense Ribbon, Vietnamese Campaign
ribbon, and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Below is a copy of
Harris’ citation for the Bronze Star:
Vern’s current survivors are his mother, Betty B. Walker;
his sister, Rebecca A. Stapert; and his brothers, Barton,
James, and John.
Vern Allen Harris lost his life fighting for others. We
will remember his bravery.
Vern’s grave is at the foot of his
Grandfather Harris’ grave, a Spanish-American War veteran
This entry was respectfully submitted by Taylor Klinkel,
8th grade student of Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish,
South Dakota, on October 6, 2005. Information for this entry
was provided by Betty B. (Harris) Walker, Vern’s mother.
Addition information was provided by the West River
Progress, 10/3/68 issue, and Vietnam veterans bonus
application. Profile approval by Betty Walker.