In Memory of U.S. Army Private First Class
Joel Charles Kervin
Aberdeen, South Dakota, Brown County
December 13, 1948 -- May 3, 1967
Died of Wounds near DaNang, South Vietnam
Joel Charles Kervin was born December 13, 1948, in Mitchell,
South Dakota, to Owen and June (Willson) Kervin. He had two
brothers, Scott and Mark, and one sister Mary Beth. Joel was 7
when both of his parents died in a car accident. He and his
siblings then went to live with their Aunt and Uncle Burckhard
who had 8 children of their own. Joel attended grade school at
Sacred Heart School in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Joel liked to
play in junior high sports and was the alter boy for the Sacred
Heart Catholic Church. His brother Mark wrote: “He was very
active and a free spirit.”
Joel Kervin enlisted in the service at St. Paul, Minnesota.
Joel had basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He
turned 18 in the service. Private First Class Kervin was sent
overseas on February 17, 1967, and was stationed in the Binh
Dinh Province as part of the 1st Air Cavalry Division
(Airmobile). In one letter home to his brother, Mark, Joel
reminisced about their last night at home before Joel was
shipped out, when they went out and drank wine together.
Army Private First Class Joel Charles Kervin died on May 3,
1967 in the Binh Dinh Province in Vietnam when his platoon was
ambushed returning from the night patrol. The telegram about PFC
Kervin’s death, which was addressed to Mrs. Robert Burckhard,
who was Joel’s guardian, confirmed Private First Class Kervin’s
death was “due to hostile fire.” Joel’s brother, Scott, who was
also in Vietnam at the time, accompanied his brother’s casket
home, arriving in Aberdeen on May 9, 1967. Joel’s service was
held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and he was buried with
military honors at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Aberdeen next to his
parents. His brother, Scott, then went back to Vietnam where he
was seriously wounded in action, and Mrs. Burckhard then
received a second telegram. Although he survived, Scott’s wounds
were permanently disabling.
Among his awards Private First Class Joel Kervin was awarded
the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. His citations for both
were later laid at the base of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in
Washington, DC, by his nephews, Matt and Jesse Kervin.
Joel Kervin is currently survived by his two brothers Scott
Kervin, who lives in Branson, Missouri, and Mark Kervin, who
lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota, and one sister Mary Beth Prouty,
who lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. His extended Burckhard
family include Wally, Dawn, Merry Carroll, Peter, Bobby June,
Maggie, Johnny, and Kelly.
Closing comments from Joel’s brother Mark: “At the Brown
County Vietnam memorial, I placed a picture of Joel and it’s
remained there for the past 4 years.” Later when visiting with
us, Mark remarked that Joel’s photo is somewhat strategically
placed facing the busy 6th Avenue in Aberdeen so that maybe he
can watch the girls since he had so little time to do that in
his short life.
This entry was respectfully submitted by Miranda Rosencranz,
8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, February 9, 2006.
Information for this entry was provided by Mark Kervin, brother,
Aberdeen South Dakota, and the Aberdeen American News May 11,
1967. Profile approval by Mark Kervin.