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



In Memory of  U.S. Army Private First Class

Alvin Richard Spider

Ft. Thompson, South Dakota, Buffalo County

 September 6, 1940- May 18, 1967

Died of Wounds in Vietnam

Alvin Richard “Dickie” Spider was born on September 6, 1940, in Sisseton, South Dakota, to Rev. Stephen and Ethel (His Gun) Spider. His siblings were Lydia, Amos, Dorothy, Ralph, Faith, Mary, Robert, Marilyn, Irene, Steve, Jr. (Rocky) and Yvonne Spider. Their hometown was Ft. Thompson in Buffalo County. Alvin went to high school in Brockton, Montana, until 1958, where Algebra was his best subject. Alvin married Jewell A. Bad Moccasin on June 27, 1960, on the Crow Creek Reservation. They had four kids: Doremis, Richard, Lila, and Germaine. He worked as a sandblaster for six years before he entered the service. Alvin is remembered as enjoying hunting, fishing, and carpentry. He made stables and chicken coops for his father.

Alvin Richard Spider entered the service on November 10, 1965, at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and did his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Alvin was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Ranger Division, the "Screaming Eagles". Richard was quite young when his dad left for the service, but remembers him coming home twice and thought he “seemed serious and different” in his last visit. He remembers taking his dad back to Sioux Falls, and from there Alvin went overseas on June 28, 1966. He served overseas with a friend, Carson Walks Over Ice, from the Crow Agency in Montana. While he was overseas, he wrote home a lot; in a last letter he said hoped to be back in the States in 3 weeks and wanted to move the family to Seattle, Washington.

Army Private First Class Spider was killed in action in Vietnam on May 18, 1967, as he carried a wounded man to cover. In a letter to Jewel Spider, Alvin’s wife, the Commanding Officer said:

Alvin was one of the most outstanding young men that I have been associated with. He was hard working and conscientious in all that he did and his personal courage on the battlefield won him the respect of all the officers and men in the company. Alvin died fighting for the ideals we all dearly cherish in the United States. I hope the knowledge that your grief is shared by the entire company will be of some consolation to you.

The body of Alvin Spider was returned to the United States and he was buried
with full military honors at Ft. Thompson. He was also honored with a three-jet flyover from Ellsworth Air Force Base, when the jets tipped their wings to salute him.

Alvin Spider received many medals and awards, including the Purple Heart, the Parachutist’s Badge, Vietnam Service Medal, Rifleman’s Expert Badge, National Defense Service Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal. Another was the Bronze Star for Heroism. The following is his citation:

For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force: Private Spider distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on 18 May 1967 in the Republic of Viet Nam. While on a search and destroy mission the second platoon suddenly came under a tremendous volume of enemy fire from well fortified enemy positions. Private Spider observed that one of his comrades had been wounded and lay in an area exposed to the
withering enemy fire. With complete disregard for his own safety, he charged through the withering enemy fire to the aid of his wounded comrade. Upon reaching his wounded comrade Private Spider placed himself between the wounded man and the enemy position. Private Spider picked his comrade up and began to carry him to a safe position. As Private Spider neared the friendly positions he was struck by enemy fire and mortally wounded. Private Spider’s devotion to duty and personal courage were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.

On the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund website, William Strickland, who was in the hospital with Alvin Spider at CamRhan Bay in March and April of 1967, said, “We became friends there and I enjoyed his friendship; we talked a lot of homes, of course. He was a good friend for a short time. ...He was a great fighter and an American. May God reward him…”

Alvin is currently survived by one son, Richard J. Spider, of Pierre; two daughters, Doremis Traversie and Germaine McGhee of Sioux Falls; three brothers: Ralph, Steven (Rocky) and Amos of Ft. Thompson, and six sisters: Marilyn Dorer, Minneapolis; Irene Langdeau, Watertown; and Dorothy Farmer, Mary Jones, Faith Alvarado, and Lydia Marks, all of Ft. Thompson. Another daughter, Lila Spider, Ft. Thompson, passed away on April 30, 2006.

Alvin Spider is also survived by 10 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Megan Simbeck, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on October 11, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by Richard Spider, Pierre, son of Alvin; the South Dakota Vietnam Veteran’s bonus application, Alvin’s Military Personnel Records, and Profile approval by Richard Spider, son.


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