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



 In Memory of Navy Electrical Technician Third Class

Ronald James Taylor

Mitchell, South Dakota, Davison County

 August 19, 1949 – December 10, 1969

Died of Wounds Received Aboard a River Boat in Vietnam


Ronald James Taylor was born on August 19, 1949, at Mitchell, South Dakota, to Albert L. “Jack” and Lois (Bender) Taylor. He had a younger brother, James. Ronald attended Mitchell area schools. His father, Jack, remembers that they never needed a television repairman at their house because Ronald could fix the TVs from the time he was in sixth grade. During his last two years at Mitchell High School, Ronald also attended electronics classes at the vocational school in Mitchell. Besides electronics, Ronald and his friends were “car crazy and motorcycle crazy.” They liked to take cars apart and so could always be found in one of their garages. Ronald graduated from Mitchell High School in 1967. He and one of his good buddies, Danny Johnson, went down to talk to a Navy recruiter and decided to join the Navy.

Ronald chose an extended enlistment of 6 years so that he could get come out of the Navy with a good education. On December 11, 1967, Ronald entered active service at Omaha, Nebraska. Early on, Seaman Apprentice Ronald Taylor first completed basic electricity/electronics school in San Diego on May 3, 1968. He then completed instruction in Electronics Technician Class “A” School, Treasure Island, San Francisco, California, with a 96.83% on March 7, 1969. Soon after Taylor was appointed to the rate of Electronics Technician Third Class on April 16, 1969. He went on to computer school at Norfolk, Virginia. He could have continued on in his schooling, but he volunteered to go to Vietnam instead. He planned to come back to his education after he returned from his tour. On August 10, 1969, ETN3 Taylor commenced his service in Vietnam, stationed first at an electronics shop in DaNang. He wrote home about every week; he told his family in one letter that the felt the war in Vietnam was a no-win deal. Nevertheless, he was adventurous and asked to be transferred out of the shop. First he worked on a high line and then he volunteered to help fix electronic equipment aboard river boats on the Mekong River.

On December 10, 1967, Electrical Technician Third Class Ronald James Taylor was gravely wounded when a grenade went off on the deck of the river boat as he stood watch. The skipper and other members of the crew were below deck at the time and were unhurt in the explosion. Ronald was evacuated out by helicopter to the 85th Evacuation Hospital, Phu Bai, South Vietnam, where he died without regaining consciousness.

At about 6:00 in the evening, a Navy officer came to the door of the Taylor home in Mitchell and informed them of Ronald’s death. Jack remembers that although he stayed with them for a time, they were just overwhelmed with shock and had a hard time absorbing everything the officer was instructing them to do. One such requirement was that Ronald’s body have a Navy escort, so Danny Johnson, who was stationed in the Mediterranean, brought Ronald home.

On December 19, 1969, after a funeral service at the Congregational church, ETN3 Ronald Taylor was laid to rest at the Mitchell Legion Cemetery with military honors provided by a Navy Honor Guard and a local National Guard contingent.

Had he lived, Ronald Taylor would most likely have come out of the Navy with a degree in nuclear electronics.

For the rest of her life, Ronald’s mother, Lois, suffered from health problems that were partially triggered by her son’s death. Before she passed away in 1987, she was able to attend the unveiling of the first memorial in 1985 while Governor Janklow was in office. Ronald Taylor is survived by his father, Jack Taylor, a WW II veteran; his brother, James “Jim” Taylor, also a Navy veteran, and Jim’s two children, Amber and James Nicholas.


This entry was respectfully submitted by Sheila Hansen, teacher, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, SD, on May 9, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by an application for a SD veterans bonus and by Jack Taylor, Mitchell. Profile approval by Jack Taylor.


State of South Dakota Main Web site    |     SD Department of Military (site coming soon) and Veterans Affairs

Pierre Area Chamber of Commerce Web site


Copyright 2005 State of South Dakota - Bureau of Administration
All Rights Reserved

Free DHTML scripts provided by

Dynamic Drive

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Army, the National Archives and Records Administration,
the Dedication Committee, and veterans who have submitted their photos for use
in conjunction with the Vietnam War Memorial Dedication.

Music "Mod Indigo" licensed by the State of South Dakota from
Freeplay Music

 free script provided by JavaScript Kit