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



In Memory of U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel

Roger Wendell Kvernes

Howard, South Dakota, Miner County

 February 22, 1930 - January 2, 1970

Killed in Action in Vietnam

Roger Wendell Kvernes was born in Howard, South Dakota, on February 22, 1930, to Albert and Agnes Kvernes. He had four siblings: Orvid, Alden, Duane and James. Roger graduated from Howard High School in 1948. He was very interested in band and music; he played the coronet from elementary school through college. He worked at his dad’s Texaco station and went to South Dakota State and graduated in 1953 as the distinguished military graduate through the ROTC program. On December 2, 1956, Roger married his wife, Shirley, in Alameda, California. Roger and Shirley had two children together, Jocelyn and Paul. Roger is remembered by his family as being “very laid-back, unflappable-in a crisis, thought first about how to fix a situation rather than becoming angry or flustered.” As a father he was “very patient and loving” and he “enjoyed his children completely.” He liked people and got along well with them.

Roger entered the service on July 9, 1953, from Howard. He was shipped to Fort Benning, Georgia then to Fort Riley, Kansas. In 1954 LTC Kvernes was sent to Korea. Later in 1954 he was in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, where he was assigned to the 27th Regiment of the 25th Division. From 1956-1964 LTC Kvernes was stateside, and much of his time was at Fort Rucker, Alabama. While at Fort Rucker, both his children were born. The family remembers that he built a car in 1963; although it took him a lot of time to complete, he found it very relaxing to visit junk yards and build the car. He was also a member (and eventually president) of the Toastmasters Club, where he put to use his debate skills from high school and polished his public speaking. While he was stateside, he completed many different courses, such as: airborne school, the advanced officers course and flight school. From June 1964 to May 1965, LTC Kvernes was in Vietnam for his first tour. From June 1965 to June 1966, he attended the Command and General Staff course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. From July 1966 to January 1969, LTC Kvernes was stationed at Fort Rucker, Alabama. On October 31, 1969, LTC Kvernes returned to Vietnam as part of the 227th Aviation Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division.

Lieutenant Colonel Roger Wendell Kvernes was killed in a helicopter crash in Vietnam on January 2, 1970. According to his family, LTC Kvernes had taken “a project associated with Army aviation to Vietnam. The helicopter was on a mission associated with that project” when it crashed. After his body was recovered, LTC Kvernes was buried with military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii, in February of 1970. It was important for LTC Kvernes’ family to bury him in Hawaii because LTC Kvernes and Shirley Kvernes got engaged in Hawaii, and while Roger was in Vietnam Shirley and their children lived in Hawaii. Plus during August of 1969, Roger had spent a leave with his family there, “generally absorbing the atmosphere that is Hawaii,” and thus, it seemed a fitting final resting place.

Lieutenant Colonel Kvernes’ awards include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, and the Joint Service Commendation Medal.

LTC Kvernes is currently survived by his wife, Shirley Kvernes, San Antonio, Texas; his daughter, Jocelyn Kvernes, Dallas, Texas; his son, Paul Kvernes, Dallas Texas; one brother, James Kvernes, and his wife, Le Ann, Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and his sister-in-law, Opal Kvernes, Howard, South Dakota.

In closing, his family remembers that Roger loved flying and that there was “nothing like low-level flying across the Midwest. The scenery was breathtaking.” He died doing what he loved, and is remembered by his family for being a devoted pilot, husband, and father, as well as a brother and son. I am honored to have written the biography of Lieutenant Roger Wendell Kvernes.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Erin Cole, 8th grade student, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, SD, October 4, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by Mrs. Shirley Kvernes, widow of LTC Kvernes, San Antonio, Texas. Other information was provided by an application for an application for a SD veteran’s bonus record. Profile approval by Shirley Kvernes.


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