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



In Memory of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer

John Robert Urban

Philip, South Dakota, Haakon County

October 7, 1934 –February 9, 1965

Killed in Action in Vietnam

John Robert “Bob” Urban was born on October 7, 1934, in Philip, South Dakota to Glenn and Dorothy Urban. He had one sister named Rita. John attended rural Haakon schools and then graduated from Philip High School in 1952. He entered the Army on March 19, 1954. For three years he was a member of the Army Security Agency and served in both Korea and the Philippines. After leaving the service in 1957, he worked for Northwest Airlines out of Missoula, Montana, which is why John is technically considered a Montana casualty. He married his wife, Arna Joy, on September 15, 1960. He had three daughters: Lesly, Annette, and Lynda.

In January of 1962, John re-enlisted in the Army and after 18 months of helicopter training, he was made a Chief Warrant Officer on August 11, 1964, at Fort Rucker. CWO Urban was sent to Vietnam shortly after and just months after his youngest daughter, Lynda, was born. While in Vietnam John was a helicopter pilot for the Army’s 68th Aviation “Sky-Raiders” Company. He wrote home a great deal, sending pictures and maps that described his experiences. He told of being shot at several times and was “concerned about the attitude of the people he was attempting to save from Communist domination,” and questioning if they really had the desire to win their own war. He also told his wife that he looked forward to “easier times—a day when his years of service and training would be repaid through a better life.”

On February 9, 1965, Chief Warrant Officer John Robert Urban was killed in action “as a result of gunshot wound of the chest” while piloting a helicopter on a combat mission. His body was returned to the United States and he was buried with military honors at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis, South Dakota with graveside rights performed by the Philip American Legion Post and the National Guard Unit from Philip.

CWO Urban won many medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal posthumously. The citation for the DFC cited “CWO Urban’s ‘rare coolness under fire.’” It went on to describe how even though Urban’s helicopter had been hit repeatedly, he “continued to direct suppressive fire into the insurgents’ position, thus providing the troop carriers time to land and off-load their troops.”

At the time of his death, John Urban was survived by his parents, his sister, Mrs. Clifford (Rita) Ramsey, his wife, and his three daughters living in Rapid City, South Dakota at the time of his death, and his son by a previous marriage. In fact, the Rapid City Journal ran a feature story on his widow and children.

Currently John is survived by his mother, Dorothy Urban, Philip; his sister, Mrs. Rita (Cliff) Ramsey, Philip; his son, K.L. (Anna) Urban, Yucca Valley, California; and his daughters: Annette (Hector) Hernandez, Stafford, Texas; Lynda (Dennis) Hearen, Austin, Texas; and Lesly (Rick) Mahnke, Englewood, Florida.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Sheila Hansen, teacher, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 11, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by an application for a SD Vietnam Veterans Bonus and from Dorothy Urban, Philip, mother of John R. Urban. Profile approval by Dorothy Urban.


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