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

 

 



In Memory of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer

David Pecor Soyland

Rapid City, South Dakota, Pennington County

April 29, 1951—May 17, 1971 (Missing in Action)
April 10, 1978 (Presumed Dead)

Missing in Action/Killed in Action in Vietnam

  

David Pecor Soyland was born April 29, 1951, in Fullerton, California, to Theodore and Betty Soyland. He had two brothers, Gary and Rick, and one step brother, Kreg. His hometown was Rapid City, South Dakota. He attended elementary school in Rapid City and graduated from Central High School in 1969. His brother, Gary, remembers that David “was a very active young man. He enjoyed fast cars and working on them,” so it wasn’t surprising that he wanted to be a pilot in the service.

David P. Soyland enlisted in the Army July 24, 1969. He was trained as a helicopter pilot and made Warrant Officer on August 23, 1970. Gary wrote, “I think what really stands out in my memory was how proud he was after he graduated from flight school as a pilot. Just before he left for Vietnam, he dressed in his ‘dress blue’ uniform for pictures and I could see the pride in his eyes.” On September 14, 1970, WO Soyland left for Vietnam as a helicopter pilot in the 101st Airborne Division.

Chief Warrant Officer David Pecor Soyland went missing on May 17, 1971, while flying a mission over Vietnam when his helicopter, a UH-1H Gunship, was shot down. He was carried as missing in action for a long time and he was finally declared dead on April 10, 1978. A memorial service was held on May 29, 1978 at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, officiated by Fort Carson, Colorado Army personnel. There is a memorial stone in his memory at Black Hills National Cemetery.

David’s brother, Gary, added some more details about David’s disappearance in a newspaper article: “David’s co-pilots body was found in the helicopter, but Soyland, a gun, a survival kit and radio was missing. They saw an American running in a white t-shirt the next day, but the never could find him.” He went on to say that it’s hard to live with a Missing in Action status: “If you know they’re POW, you at least know the location. If they’re MIA, you have no idea.”

Chief Warrant Officer Soyland received many awards. Among those awards are the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Good Conduct Medal, and the Vietnam Service Medal. His Distinguished Flying Cross was “given to him personally by President Richard Nixon.” The citation was not received by family until 33 years later when Gary requested it. It reads as follows:

At the time of his memorial service, his survivors were his mother, Betty Bender, Clovis, New Mexico; his father, Theodore Soyland, Orient, South Dakota; three brothers, Gary Soyland, of the U.S. Navy, Rick Soyland, Orient; and Kreg Warrick, Clovis, New Mexico. Since then, his mother, Betty, has passed away.

In closing, Gary wrote, “There is no doubt in my mind he enjoyed being a helicopter pilot and was proud to serve his country.” And his comment in a newspaper article also seems appropriate: “War is hard to understand unless you’re there -- that the military doesn’t fight for the president or the American way once there. They fight for the buddy sitting beside them.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Samantha Engel, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on February 11, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by Ted Soyland, Faulkton, SD (now at the State Veterans Home in Hot Springs), father of David; David’s Vietnam Veterans bonus application, and his memorial bulletin. Additional information and profile approval by Gary Soyland, brother, and Ted Soyland, father.

 


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