In Memory of U.S. Army Specialist Fourth Class
Arden Keith Renville
Sisseton, South Dakota, Roberts County
July 25, 1946 -- April 24, 1968
Died of Wounds Received While on Combat Operation in Vietnam
Arden Keith “Jackie” Renville was born July 25, 1946, in
Sisseton, South Dakota, to Joseph and Naomi (Freemont) Renville.
His siblings were Robin, Grady, Bruce, and Martha Renville.
Arden attended Sisseton High School and graduated in 1964. He
then went to Northern State College until 1967. When he was
little, his elder brothers would take him down to the local gas
station, and they would ask the owner if they could trade him
for a pack of Black Jack chewing gum. When he was in grade
school, he would get up early and read the newspaper and listen
to the radio and TV news before he went to school. Arden won
many awards for his knowledge and interest in current events.
While in high school, Arden ran track and liked listening to the
Beatles. In high school he had a Beatles’ style hair cut and was
called ‘Ghandi’ by his friends. Before he entered the service in
1967, Arden had a ‘rummage sale’ at his dorm in Northern State
Arden Renville enlisted on February 1, 1967, in Sioux Falls,
South Dakota. He was trained as a medic. Arden was assigned to
Company D, 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry, and 1st Infantry
Division. Before going overseas, Arden came home on leave to
find his parents had just taken in a puppy, and Arden and the
puppy went everywhere together while he was home. Then when
Arden left for Vietnam on July 26, 1967, the puppy just
disappeared. His brother, Grady, was in Vietnam at the same time
as Arden, but Arden was in the South, and Grady was in the
North. According to a newspaper article, “after several months
in-country, Arden contracted malaria and was sent to a rear area
hospital” to get better. While there he walked by another
Sisseton-area veteran, Myron Williams, who was hospitalized with
severe leg wounds. Myron called out, “Ghandi, is that you?”
referring to Arden’s nickname from high school. When it was time
to evacuate Myron out of the combat zone, Arden helped put him
on the stretcher. Soon after, he returned to his company, Delta,
but because they were in the “bush on another search and destroy
mission,” he ended up as a medic in another company, Bravo,
where he met, Cecil Lumley, a radio operator for B Company. They
became friends and he was able later to tell Arden’s family more
about what happened the day Arden died.
Army Specialist Fourth Class Arden Keith Renville was killed
on April 24, 1968. He died in “Vietnam from wounds received
while on a combat operation when hit by fragments from hostile
mine.” Lumley says that as the medic Arden was passing out salt
tablets up the column of soldiers; he gave one to Cecil and then
kept moving up the line. About three rows up, a “blast went off
sending all the soldiers to the ground. The blast killed Arden
instantly.” He went on to say that he helped place Arden’s body
on the helicopter and how quiet and sad B Company was that day.
Grady remembers when he found out. He had returned from Vietnam
and was attending college at the time.
I remember calling from the dorm [at Bacon
College, Muskogee, Oklahoma] and sitting down on the floor,
prepared for the worst. Several days prior I had a dream
where I seen a dead soldier’s face. I called home and a
military officer answered the phone and gave the news that
Arden had been killed.
Strangely enough, “Arden’s mother recalled the day that Arden
died she came from work and the pup that disappeared when Arden
left for Vietnam had suddenly reappeared.” Several weeks later
Arden’s body was returned to Sisseton and buried with military
honors at the Veteran’s Circle in the Sisseton Cemetery. The
local American Legion post was renamed in his honor; it is now
the Otto-Quande-Renville American Legion Post #50.
Among Arden’s awards were the Army Commendation Medal, the
Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and the Combat Medic Badge, which
were awarded posthumously.
Survivors at the time of his death were his parents, Joseph
and Naomi Renville of Sisseton; his three brothers, Grady,
Robin, and Bruce; and his sister, Martha. In closing, Grady
wrote, “Sometimes those of us who lost loved ones in Vietnam
feel that no one else cares. I made a vow to my brother many
years ago that I would never forget him. I have done my best to
honor that vow.”
This entry was respectfully submitted by Jamela Hafner and
Brittany Mohr, 8th Graders, Spearfish Middle School, February 9,
2006. The information for this entry was provided by Grady
Renville, brother, in Sisseton, South Dakota, The Sisseton
Courier, May 9, 1968 and August 10, 2004 issues. Profile
approval by Grady Renville.