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



In Memory of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant

Peter George Heinzman

Winner, South Dakota, Tripp County

June 4, 1938 – October 28, 1969

Died of Injuries in Military Vehicle Accident in Vietnam near Saigon

Peter George “Pete” Heinzman was born June 4, 1938, in Lemmon, South Dakota. Peter had 15 siblings: Florence, Magdeline, Philipine, Frances, Rose, Anna, Mike, John, Casper, Nick, Robert (Braun), Jacob, Roger, Sebastian, and Joe. Under tragic circumstances, Peter and his sister, Florence, were sent to live with a foster family in Pierre, but when that didn’t work out, Peter went to live with the James Rysavy family in Winner, South Dakota where he attended his schooling. Joan Huebner, a daughter of the Rysavy’s, knew Peter. She remembers that Peter and another foster child, Frank, became good friends. They “drove tractor and helped with the farming. They fished, swam in the dam, and generally raised cane.” Joan also remembers, “Pete was the type of person who enjoyed life. He had an infectious grin.”

Peter entered the U.S. Army in September of 1957 and went to Fort Lee, Virginia for basic training. He married his first wife, Ruby Van Matre, of Clearfield, SD, on December 28, 1957, while home on leave. Peter was then sent to Germany, where Ruby joined him in January of 1960. Their first son, Roger, was born November 28, 1960; their second son, Micheal, was born on January 14, 1962. Ruby and the boys then came back to the United States and settled in Winner, where daughter, Denise, was born on March 10, 1963. Later, in 1967 while still in Germany, Pete Heinzman married Brigette, his second wife, at Fuerth, and they had a son, David.

Staff Sergeant Peter Heinzman “died on October 28, 1969, in Vietnam as a result of injuries received on October 17, 1969 while passenger on a military vehicle which was involved in an accident,” according to his casualty report. His funeral and burial were held in Nurnberg, Germany, but there was a memorial mass held at St. John the Evangelist Church in Rapid City, where his sister, Florence, and the Rysavys were living at the time.

According to his sister-in-law, Helen Heinzman, the following are his surviving brothers and sisters: John (Alice) Heinzman, Billings, MT; Philipine Kern, Billings, MT; Joe (Dorothy) Heninzman, Big River, California; Jake (Diana) Heinzman, Baird, Texas; Maggie Hewson, Belfield, North Dakota; Frances (John) May, Portland, OR. Peter is also survived by his children: Roger (Roxanne) Heinzman and their daughter, Rae Lynn, Winner; Micheal (Anji) Heinzman and their children, Steven and Anna, Bloomfield, Missouri, and Micheal’s children from a previous marriage, Cheryl and Scott, Connecticut; daughter, Denise (Jerry) Olson and their children, Joshua and Justin, Winner; and his other son, David Heinzman, Georgia.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Danny Hunke, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on February 10, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by Mrs. Helen Heinzman, Joan Huebner, the South Dakota Vietnam Veteran’s bonus application, the Winner Advocate, 11/13/69, and Denise Olson. Profile approval was provided by Denise Olson, Frances May, and Joan Huebner.


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