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



In Memory of U.S. Army Sergeant

LeLund Morris Kahler

Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Butte County

 December 3, 1948 – April 8, 1969

Killed in Action in Vietnam

LeLund Morris Kahler was born on December 3, 1948, in Burke, South Dakota, to Henry and Joyce (Wilkey) Kahler. He had a sister, LaNyce. His father was the head custodian and his mother was a teacher in the Belle Fourche School District. He graduated from Belle Fourche High School in 1966 and went to University of South Dakota in Vermillion for one year. The Daily Belle Fourche Post said, “LeLund was an all around athlete in high school.” He had a girlfriend when he left for the service.

On March 21, 1968, LeLund Kahler was drafted to the army in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was sent overseas on August 18, 1968, to Vietnam. He was a Squad Leader with Company D, 2nd Battalion, and 39th Infantry. His mother, Joyce, wrote that LeLund letter’s “were brief but often. He never told us what he did but they always came with reconnaissance stamped on the back.” Later, the family learned that reconnaissance meant that “several were helicoptered out into enemy territory to assess it for possible military action. At a specified time they were to be picked up and taken back to camp.” He also wrote about “the hundreds of acres of defoliated trees that were sprayed.” He and his fellow soldiers had no idea that this ‘Agent Orange’ spray was harmful and walked through the contaminated areas many times. On March 2, 1969, Sergeant Kahler was wounded near Cai Be in Vietnam and was awarded the Purple Heart and returned to active service after a brief hospital stay.

Just 19 days after returning to active duty, Sergeant LeLund Morris Kahler died of wounds received while on a reconnaissance mission on April 8, 1969, after he was shot by a sniper. After his body was returned to the United States, LeLund Kahler was buried with military honors on April 17, 1969, at Black Hills National Cemetery.

Sergeant Kahler was awarded many medals and badges. He got the Silver Star Medal, Bronze Star Medal, 2 Purple Hearts, the Air Medal, the Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Combat Infantry Badge, Army Commendation Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster and “V,” Good Conduct Medal, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Leaf and Star, Vietnam Combat Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Sharpshooter Badge, Marksmanship Badge, National Defense Medal. The following is the Silver Star citation:

Sgt. Kahler distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions while serving
as the Squad Leader with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 39th Infantry on a reconnaissance in force mission in Dinh Tuong Province. After his platoon came under intense fire from a well entrenched enemy force, Sgt. Kahler crawled across more than 75 meters of fireswept [sic] terrain and took up an exposed position to effectively engage the enemy. Later during the action he
moved a wounded comrade to safety and directed a heavy volume of suppressive fire at the hostile emplacements. His valiant actions played a vital role in routing the enemy force.

A few years back, the Moving Vietnam Wall came to Belle Fourche and 30 of his classmates who came from South Dakota, Wyoming, Ohio, California, and Texas, volunteered at the opening ceremonies. Some of LeLund’s friends and classmates shared the following memories:

“You were the tall, dark and very cute boy who even in first grade displayed your sense of protection and concern for others.”

“You were the one who, as we passed through grades, was always there with a smile, a friendly nudge, a mark of consideration and concern for those around you. Even early on we recognized in you, your willingness to help others.”

“We remember your eagerness to play bodyguard at community dances to insure that no one stepped out of line.”

“How can any of us ever forget Math class…even when some of the antics got you sent to the principal’s office, you were undaunted and continued to think up more, simply to bring a smile to the rest of us who certainly didn’t have the nerve to do it ourselves. You were our hero even then.”

“You were the one who stopped the boys form pushing the merry-go-round too fast so the girls wouldn’t fall off and skin their knees.”

“You were committed to your role in school and athletics on the football field, the basketball court, in track and softball.”

“And without doubt, you were truly committed to your relationships with others. You were honest, sincere, and kind. You were the big brother to many, a bodyguard to those who needed your strength and protection, a bright smile on what may have been a cloudy day, and always a friend to all of us. Your life was cut short way before your time. We miss you, dear friend. The laughter fades as the years have passed by, but your memory lives on.”

Kahler family: Joyce, Henry, LaNyce, and LeLund

At the time of his death, Sergeant Kahler was survived by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Kahler of Belle Fourche and his sister, LaNyce. His current survivors are his mother, Joyce Kahler, Donna, Texas; and his sister, LaNyce Whittemore, Austin, Texas.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Kyle Derosier, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on October 4, 2005. Information was provided by the Daily Belle Fourche Post, issues April 10, 11 and 15, 1969 and March 20, 1969 and the Vietnam Veterans Bonus Application. Additional information provided by Joyce Kahler and the Belle Fourche class of 1966 via Lee Voyles. Approval by Joyce Kahler.


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