Fred Duane “Freddie” Larson was born in Mobridge, South
Dakota, on June, 22, 1949, to Helmer and Bertha Larson. His
siblings were Gary and Kathleen. He was raised and educated
in Pollock, South Dakota, in Cambell County. He graduated
from Pollock High School in 1967. He was interested in cars
and in mechanics. In fact, he went to a Denver trade school
after high school. Fred then worked in the oil fields in
Montana and the Homestake gold mine at Lead before returning
home to work as a mechanic at the local service station
before entering the service.
Fred Larson was drafted for the service on August 19,
1969, in Sioux Falls. He had his basic training at Fort
Lewis in Washington. He had additional training in heavy
artillery at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. He was a Private First
Class in the US Army, 6th Battalion, 11th Artillery when he
left for Vietnam on January 15, 1970.
Army Private First Class Fred Duane Larson was killed in
action in Vietnam on April 24, 1970, which was also his
mother’s 55th birthday. According to reports, he “apparently
stepped on a land mine after volunteering to go in advance
of his unit” near the village of Lang Dong Ban in the Quang,
Ngai Province. “He was searching a suspected enemy dwelling
when an enemy explosive device was detonated.”
His commanding officer sent a letter to the family, which
began with, “It is with deepest sorrow that I extend to you
the sympathy of the men of the 6th Battalion, 11th
Artillery, for the loss of your son, Fred.” He went on to
say, “I sincerely hope that the knowledge that Fred was an
exemplary soldier who gave his life assisting his fellowman
and in the service of his country will comfort you in this
great hour of sorrow.”
PFC Larson’s body was returned to the United States and
escorted home by Sgt. Rick Pudwill, a life long friend from
Herreid. He was buried with military honors at the family
lot in the cemetery in Pollock.
At the dedication at the wall in Washington, D.C. on July
19, 2003, the speaker assigned to speak about Fred was K.
Lance VanderVorst, who told of Fred’s service and sacrifice.
Current survivors are his mother, Bertha Larson, Pollock;
his brother, Gary (Brenda) Larson, Herreid; his sister,
Kathleen (Larson) LeDoux, Ham Lake, Minnesota.
In closing, at the dedication, VanderVorst also said,
Fred gave the last full measure of
devotion to his Country and comrades. It was partly
through his actions, as well as the service of all
Vietnam Veterans, that the United States won the Cold
War. As the annals of history are written let us never
forget Fred Duane Larson’s service to the United States
of America. This Country was given birth by the soldier,
has been sustained by the soldier, and continues to be
protected by those who go where others fear to tread.
SD Vietnam Memorial Wall in Pierre
This entry was respectfully submitted by Brad North, 8th
grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota,
October 4, 2005. Information and approval for this entry
were provided by Gary and Brenda Larson,