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



In Memory of U.S. Army Private First Class

James Lee Steineke

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County

 April 13, 1947 – January 28, 1967

Killed in Action in Vietnam


James Lee Steineke was born April 13, 1947, to Tom Richard and Dorothy Irene (Archer) Steineke. James had two siblings, a sister, Patty, and a brother, Bill. James, often called “Jim,” attended Hartford grade school for eight years, and he then went to Lyons High School and graduated on May 27, 1965. During his high school years, James was a good student and was active in football and basketball, as well as being president of his class for his junior year. In addition to school activities, James enjoyed spending time with his family and reading as well as numerous outdoor activities, such as fishing and hunting. James found employment doing construction work, in addition to helping with the farm work at home.

James Steineke planned to pursue a college education after high school but was instead drafted into the United States Army in June of 1966. He was then sent to Fort Lewis, Washington, where he received his training. Pfc. Steineke went on to receive additional training with artillery. He was sent overseas to Vietnam from Oakland, California, on December 15, 1966. In Vietnam, Pfc. Steineke served as a rifleman in Company A, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. While in Vietnam, Steineke wrote home to his parents often, and his mother recalls the letters as being cheerful. He often wrote about continuing his education upon returning home from Vietnam. According to his letters, conditions were not good in Vietnam, and he once had to sleep in mud for three weeks when it would not stop raining. In one of his letters, he said:

We made a new camp and bunkers. I have not heard of action lately but a lot is always GOING on that we don’t hear. I hope we don’t get action as none of us want to be in battles. Hope to make it home in 10 months.

On January 28, 1967, Pfc. James Steineke was sent into his first battle in Vietnam. Friendly artillery fire sent out metal fragments which wounded Pfc. Steineke, and those wounds were fatal. Many other soldiers were killed as a result of the misfiring, and it was labeled a “terrible tragedy” by Life Magazine.

For his Vietnam service, Pfc. James Steineke received a Rifleman’s award and a Purple Heart. He was buried in February of 1967 in the family plot at Hartford. At the time of his death, he left behind his parents, Tom and Dorothy, as well as his sister, Patty, and his brother, Bill, and his grandparents. His current survivors are his mother, Dorothy, his sister, Patty Nytroe, and brother, Bill Steineke.

In a letter to James’ parents, the commanding officer wrote, “James was a man whose memory will live on in hearts of those who knew him. Your son was a fine man and a dedicated soldier.”

In a posting to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Gary Cole wrote of James: “I had the honor to serve as James' platoon leader in Vietnam and was with him when he died. You were taken from us many years ago James, but you are not forgotten.”

That memory of James still lives on in the hearts of those he left behind. His family wrote, “He was so loved, and we still miss him. It is possible even after years. We often wonder all the memories we would have of him and his future family if he just could have lived.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by April G. Goodson, 10th Grade, Spearfish High School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on October 1, 2005. Information for this entry was provided by Dorothy Steineke and <>. Profile approval by Dorothy Steineke, mother.




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