In Memory of U.S. Navy Hospitalman
Roger Miller Nelson
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County
September 16, 1947 – April 7, 1968
Killed in Action at Khe Sanh, Vietnam
Roger Miller Nelson was born on September 16, 1947, at
Lincoln, Nebraska. His parents were Clarence and Iris Nelson. He
had a younger brother named Steve. Roger was an Eagle Scout when
he was young plus an assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 207. Roger
graduated from Washington High School in 1965 and went to Sioux
Falls College for one semester.
Roger Nelson entered active service in the Navy on May 31,
1966 at Omaha, Nebraska. After basic training at Great Lakes,
Illinois, he went to Hospital Corps School. Roger then received
his Marine Corps training at Camp Le Juene, North Carolina.
Hospitalman Roger Nelson was sent overseas on November 10, 1967,
as part of the F/H+S Company, 2nd Battalion, 26th Marine
Regiment, 3rd Marine Division. He arrived in Vietnam about 10
days later. Just a couple months later, he was in the 77-day
siege at Khe Sanh.
U.S. Navy Hospitalman Roger Miller Nelson died in battle on
April 7, 1968, in the vicinity of Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province,
South Vietnam, as a result of “a fragment wound from an enemy
mortar while on patrol.” His body was recovered and returned to
the United States. After a first funeral service in Sioux Falls,
there was a second at the chapel at the Lincoln Memorial Park
Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska, Roger’s birthplace. He was buried
with full military honors. Among his awards were the Purple
Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation. A close friend and
comrade, Jim Helmick, posted this remembrance of Roger at <www.vvmf.org>:
“I was sent home to be with my mother who was dying. You took my
place. If I hadn't gone home, you would be alive….”
At the time of his death, Roger Miller Nelson was survived by
his parents and brother, Steve. Charles Langenfeld, another
South Dakota medic, was also killed during the siege at Khe Sanh.
This entry was respectfully submitted by Zach Patterson, 8th
grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on
March 31, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by a
South Dakota Vietnam Veteran’s bonus and the Sioux Falls
Argus Leader issue, April 13, 1968 and April 21, 1968. No
family contact was established.