In Memory of Army Sgt.
Joseph Emanuel Hurney
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County
November 14, 1942-January 15, 1969
Killed when his truck hit a hostile mine in Quang Ngai
Province, South Vietnam
Joseph Emanuel Hurney was born in Brookings County in
South Dakota on November 14, 1942 to John Emanuel and Thelma
Marie (Horner) Duffek Hurney. He lived with his family in
Elkton, South Dakota until 1949, when he and his family
moved to Sioux Falls. Joseph had two brothers, John and
Edward, a half brother, Dale Duffek, a sister, Nell Marie,
and two half sisters, Darlene and Bonnie Duffek. Joseph
attended St. Joseph’s Cathedral School and Whittier Junior
High School in Sioux Falls. Joe loved cars and was very good
at putting in straight stick transmissions in his 1948 Ford
Coupe, as he loved to drag race. Joe also was very athletic,
playing baseball and football in his neighborhood. He
enjoyed playing cards and pool, swimming, rock and roll
music and dancing.
Joseph married Marlene A. Sandberg on August 16, 1963 in
Sioux Falls. A son, Scott Joseph Hurney, was born on March
16, 1964. Joe was very ambitious and a hard worker. He
worked at gas stations, a feed mill, a restaurant supply
store installing large equipment, and transported prisoners
to the State Penitentiary and the mentally ill to the State
Hospital for the Sheriff. He became a Teamster working on
the freight docks at Hyman Freightways and All American
Freight in Sioux Falls. Joe was extremely neat and clean –
everything had to be spotless.
Joseph Emanuel Hurney was drafted into the Army on
September 22, 1967 after he and his wife were divorced
because of family pressure over religious differences. He
arrived in Vietnam on March 1, 1968, attached to Battery G,
29th Artillery, 108th Artillery Group.
As his tour in Vietnam was coming to an end, Sgt. Hurney
was given a choice of staying in Vietnam for one more month
and when he came home he would be out for good, or he could
come back to the United States early, and would have to
serve a few more months. Since he and Marlene were planning
on remarrying and moving away from Sioux Falls as soon as he
got back to the States, he chose to stay in Vietnam one more
month. It was the wrong decision, for he was killed on
January 15, 1969, while supervising the searchlights and the
men who provided illumination in support of combat
operations in his area. The truck in which he was riding
struck a mine and was simultaneously ambushed.
Sgt. Joseph Emanuel Hurney was buried in St. Michael’s
Cemetery, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Sgt. Hurney’s name
can be found on Panel 34W, Row 7 of the Vietnam Veterans’
Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.
Sgt. Hurney’s son received the awards for his father.
They included the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Good Conduct
Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service
Medal, Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, and the Sharpshooter Badge
with rifle bar.
In the photo, seven awards,
including the Bronze Star, were presented to Joe’s
Sgt. Hurney loved his son very much and had great
aspirations for him. When Scott was one year old, his father
bought him boxing gloves and at two years old bought him a
football. His dad played with him, took good care of him and
was a good father. Scott was two months from being five when
Joe was killed. Scott has missed growing up without Joe-at
41 he still needs him.
Marlene Hurney writes:
Now that thirty-six years have passed
since Joe was killed in Vietnam, it has not become any
easier for us to deal with his death. Through the years
it has come out that this war was all in vain. A day
does not go by that we are not reminded. Joe was not
looking forward to going to Vietnam but thought it was
his patriotic duty. He went, gave it his all, and
consequently sacrificed the ultimate for his
It is with great sadness that we include an addendum to
this profile. Joe’s son, Scott Hurney, died on October 2,
2005, after a ‘courageous battle with cancer.’ We are so
sorry that she has had to endure the loss of both her
husband and her son.
Joy One Star, 7th grade, Stanley Country Middle School,
Fort Pierre, South Dakota, May 12, 2005 respectfully
submitted this entry. Information was provided by Mrs.
Marlene Hurney, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, former wife of
Sgt. Joseph Emanuel Hurney.