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



In Memory of Marine LCPL

Kenneth Robert Jamerson

Little Eagle, South Dakota, Corson County

 August 3, 1946 – April 5, 1967

Died from wounds from an explosive device in Quang Ngai Province, South Vietnam

Kenneth Robert Jamerson was born in Little Eagle, South Dakota, August 3, 1946, to Theron K. and Grace V. Jamerson. He had four brothers: Frank, Joe, James, and Everett. Kenneth attended school at McLaughlin, South Dakota, where he was a member of the student council, and an officer in his class. He excelled in track, football, and basketball.

Marine LCPL Kenneth Robert Jamerson was injured while on patrol by an anti-personnel mine in the vicinity of Quang Ngai, Republic of Vietnam, on March 21, 1967. He was taken to a field hospital at DaNang. In a letter to his parents dated April 2, 1967 he wrote:

Dear Dad and Mom: I am enclosing the Citation for the Bronze Star, which General Walt presented me yesterday, the medal itself I will bring home with me but I want you to keep the Citation safe for me. It means a great deal to me and General Walt said he was proud of all I had done. The words of the Citation are wonderful, and I want you and all of our relatives to see them. Your loving Son, Kenneth

His Bronze Star Citation reads, in part:

For heroic achievement in connection with operations against insurgent communist (Viet Cong) forces in the republic of Vietnam while serving with company “D”, First Marines on 21 March 1967. PFC Jamerson was leading his squad as point man, during a sweep in an area that was known to be heavily infested with Viet Cong and extensively mined and booby-trapped. Realizing his extremely hazardous position, PFC Jamerson continuously pressed forward with complete disregard for his personal safety. His determined effort and courage were inspirational to the men of his squad. PFC Jamerson demonstrated exceptional professional skill and courage while performing his hazardous duties under adverse conditions. His calmness under fire and devotion to duty were exhibited continuously. While performing his dangerous duties, PFC Jamerson detonated an enemy anti-personnel mine resulting in traumatic amputation of both legs. With inspiring courage and loyal devotion to duty, PFC Jamerson disregarded his painful wounds and encouraged the Marines of his squad forward to accomplish their mission. By his actions, PFC Jamerson upheld the highest traditions of the United States Navel Service.

Lance Corporal Kenneth Robert Jamerson died three days later, on April 5, 1967. He was laid to rest near Little Eagle, South Dakota. Lance Corporal Jamerson’s name is on Panel 17 E, Line 104 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Martin Shaughnessy, friend and comrade, writes, in part:

I knew Kenneth Jameson for only a short time, beginning in late December of 1966 until his death three months later. Yet, in all the years since, his memory has returned to me again and again.

He had volunteered to fight for America, he wasn’t a draftee. He had volunteered to take the job of Point Man, the most dangerous job in the infantry platoon-and he was good at it. The “Chief”, as he was known, could move quietly through the thick jungle growth and seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to detecting enemy movement. He was adept at interpreting Viet Cong and North Vietnamese trail signs and booby-trap warnings. He never panicked under fire and had a calming, reassuring influence on less experienced troops like myself.

In combat, things have a way of turning more chaotic quickly. Amidst all the gunfire, shouting and smoke there comes a feeling that you’ve lost control. During operation “Stone” we engaged a heavy concentration of North Vietnamese “Regulars” in a running battle that lasted nearly two days. At one point I found myself waste-deep in mud, unable to free myself and expecting at any moment to be hit by a sniper round, or worse. The “Chief” appeared from nowhere. He stopped and extended one end of his rifle for me to latch on to and leaving himself exposed to enemy fire, slowly pulled me out. I remember the look on his face. There was no fear.

The Chief was different than the other Marines. There was no loud-talking bravado about him. He carried himself with great confidence, a sense of self-assurance that was uncommon for an eighteen year old. At first I thought him to be unsociable, but I came to learn it was just his way, it was his nature to not waste words. I came to learn that he had a wonderful, almost child-like sense of humor. He loved corny jokes.

One night in base camp I observed him huddled over a small reel-to-reel battery operated tape recorder listening to a tribal ritual that someone had recorded and mailed to him from his reservation in South Dakota. I thought it strange. It dawned on me for the first time that my friend was an American Indian, for real, and how important it was to him that he should maintain that bond that existed among his people for probably centuries. When he spoke of the conditions on the reservations he didn’t complain, really, he just told me the way it was. He accepted it. And yet, he got up every morning, picked up his rifle and pack and did his job. He did it all during the Monsoon season where it would rain for weeks at a time. It was impossible to stay dry, and sometime the skin would just fall off your feet. He did it during the dry season when the temperature got so high that it made simply walking with a flac jacket and helmet a difficult task. He never complained. And then finally he gave everything he had; he gave his life, tracking down enemy troops that had been terrorizing a village in the middle of nowhere.

There are no statues erected in South Dakota to Ken Jamerson. He left behind no children bearing his name and I fear that one day soon he will be forgotten. He deserves so much more. He died believing our cause was a noble one. However historians choose to record the Vietnam War they should note that men like Ken Jamerson represented all that was good about America.

Charles Trevor Swanson, 8th grade, Stanley County Middle School, Fort Pierre, South Dakota, May 13, 2006, respectfully submitted this entry. Information for this entry was provided from the April 13th and 20th editions of the Corson County News, and Martin Shaughnessy, Clinton, Massachusetts, comrade-in-arms to Lance Corporal Jamerson.


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