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



In Memory of Army SGT

Dennis Dean Lawver


Miller, South Dakota, Hand County

November 18, 1946 – May 1, 1968

Died in Hua Nghia Province, South Vietnam

Dennis Dean Lawver was born in Miller, South Dakota, on November 18, 1946, to Floyd Everett and Shirley Ruth (Hickins) Lawver. He had three brothers, Everett, Bruce, and Rodney, and one sister, Sonya. His father died in a hay baling accident when he was eight, and his mother died of cancer two years later. He and his brother Everett then went to live with their aunt and uncle, Jim and Lurdene Anderson and their two children, Jim Jr. and Dixie. As a teenager he enjoyed riding horses, playing football, and running track. Dennis was a good student in school. He was a member of the honor society, and was voted by the staff and student body as Mr. Gann Valley High of 1965. Dennis graduated from Gann Valley High School in 1965, and attended South Dakota State University for 1½ years. He worked on his uncle’s as well as other ranches. Often he would go to church and pray.

Sgt. Dennis D. Lawver enlisted in the Army on March 1, 1967, because “he could not see other boys die for him and not serve his country himself.” He received his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, his leadership training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and completed his NCO training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Sgt. Lawver trained recruits at Fort Polk, Louisiana before receiving his orders for Vietnam. He arrived there on March 31, 1968, as part of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division.

The following is part of a letter Dennis wrote to his family:

…Wait until I get my orders before worrying, besides, even Vietnam isn’t bad for most army units. The Marines and Army Airborne units see most of the fighting—but I’ll do my job. I’ll probably never be a hero, but my duty will be done. Jim and Lurdene—you have always said quitting never gets you anyplace. Well, I have found that out the hard way. I know that I must stand like a man and fight like a man for what I believe in. Mom once said “to never give up”. I’ll never forget her and dad, and what you have done for me.

Sergeant Dennis Dean Lawver died near Hug Nghia Province, South Vietnam on May 1, 1968. The telegram stated that death was caused by asphyxiation from mud, water, and debris. His aunt, Lurdene Anderson, said Dennis believed that he owed it to his country to join the military, and said he was a very patriotic, dedicated, intelligent, and well read young man. He insisted that his family put up a flagpole so they could fly Old Glory every day, and they even moved the pole after having purchased a ranch in Buffalo County.

Sgt. Lawver received the Purple Heart, the Vietnam Occupation Medal, the Expert Rifleman’s Badge, the Bronze Star Award, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. The citation for the Bronze Star reads, in part:

…for outstanding meritorious service during the period 31 March 1968 to 1 May 1968 in connection with ground operations against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam. Through his untiring efforts and professional ability, he consistently obtained outstanding results. He was quick to grasp the implications of new problems with which he was faced as a result of the ever-changing situations inherent in a counterinsurgency operation. The energetic application of his extensive knowledge materially contributed to the overall effort to the United States in Vietnam. He was a motivating example to all with whom he came into contact. His devotion to duty, loyalty, and meticulous attention to detail are in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Army, and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, the 25th Infantry Division and the military service.

Sergeant Lawver was buried in Graceland Cemetery in Mitchell, South Dakota. His name can be found on Panel 53E, Line 035 of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.


Mason Edward White, 7th grade, Stanley County Middle School, Fort Pierre, South Dakota, April 22, 2005 respectfully submitted this entry. Sgt. Lawver’s aunt, Mrs. Lurdene Anderson, Gann Valley, South Dakota, provided the information.


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