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



In Memory of U.S. Army Captain

Richard Andrew Larson

Watertown, South Dakota, Codington County

January 25, 1945-May 22, 1970

Died in a Helicopter Crash over Cambodia

Richard Andrew Larson was born on January 22, 1945, to Andrew and Anna Mae (Erickson) Larson in Watertown, South Dakota. He had a sister, Carol Larson, younger than Richard by 23 months. He graduated from Watertown High School in 1963 where he was an outstanding athlete; one of his accomplishments was being named to the Class A basketball first team in 1963 when he was a senior. Another was being named to the All-State football second team earlier that same year. Additionally, Richard was a member of the Legion Baseball team. Carol remembered: ďI spent hours pitching a tennis ball so he could practice his hitting.Ē After high school, Richard went to South Dakota State University, where he continued to excel in sports: he was a star basketball player for the Jackrabbits, named MVP when he was a junior, and pitcher for the baseball team. His sister remembers that when she was coming to college at SDSU, she was scared as she walked into the gymnasium to register for her classes. She didnít have to worry because Richard was already in there waiting for her. As a member of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), Richard graduated in January of 1968 with a commission as a second lieutenant.

Richard Larson entered the service on May 26, 1968, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He completed flight school at Ft. Walters, Texas, and Hunters Army Airfield School Larson graduated with honors from Officers Rotary Wing Aircraft Class and received his wings in Savannah, Georgia, May 20, 1969. Captain Larson then went home on leave before shipping overseas to Vietnam on June 27, 1969, as part of Company C, 227th Aviation Battalion, 11th Aviation Group, 1st Cavalry Division. Once in Vietnam, he was commissioned a helicopter commander.

Capt. Richard Andrew Larson was killed in helicopter crash over Cambodia in the Quang Duc Province on May 22, 1970. May 22, 1970. His body was recovered, returned to the United States, and he was buried with military honors at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Watertown.

Captain Larson had many awards and citations. Among them were the Distinguished Flying Cross, awarded for heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight; the Bronze Star, awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces who have distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement in connection with military operations against an armed enemy; the Air Medal and Thirty-Five Oak Leaf Clusters (each cluster representing another air medal), awarded because Richard distinguished himself by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight or sustained operational activities against an armed enemy; the Army Commendation Medal, awarded to members who have distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement or meritorious service; the National Defense Service Medal; the Vietnam Service Medal; Vietnam Campaign Medal; Expert Badge with automatic rifle bar; and the Sharpshooter Badge with rifle bar.

At the time of his death, Richard Larson was survived by his parents and his sister. Only his sister, Carol, survives Richard today. Richard Larson only had 26 days left of his tour in Vietnam when he was killed. He was 25 years old.

Left: Richard relaxing at a game of cards; center: Richardís first solo flight, 10/4/68; right: Richardís MVP picture at SDSU

This entry was respectfully submitted by Thomas Niemi, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish South Dakota, October 13, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by Watertown Public Opinion, May 28, 1970, and May 2, 1970 issues, Vietnam Veterans Bonus Application, and <>. Additional information and profile approval by Carol Larson.


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