In Memory of U.S. Army Captain
Ronald Ray Van Regenmorter
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Minnehaha County
July 3, 1936 -- January 12, 1967
Killed in Helicopter Crash in Vietnam
Ronald Ray Van Regenmorter and his twin brother, Donald, were
born to Henry and Nellie Van Regenmorter on July 3, 1936, in
Worthington, Minnesota, but were raised in Rushmore, Minnesota.
Their father died in 1948 and the family moved to Worthing,
where the boys finished grade school. At that point, Ronald
moved to Minneapolis where he attended his freshman year of high
school apart from Donald. Then they were reunited when they went
to live with their sister in Sioux Falls, where they completed
their sophomore year at Washington High School. Then Ronald went
to Brandon High School for a year while he worked on a farm.
After their mother remarried, the twins were reunited and
graduated from Washington High School in 1954. During his years
at Washington, he met his future wife, Karen Ann Dibben, whom he
married on July 28, 1956, in Sioux Falls. Ronald and Karen
eventually had two children, Kim Marie and Randy Ray.
Ronald Van Regenmorter—and his twin brother, Donald, first
entered the service after high school in June of 1954 and were
trained at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Ronald went on to
Airborne training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and was then
stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before being sent overseas
to serve at Fort Wood in Japan, where Ronald served as a
Chaplain’s assistant. At that time, Ronald decided to train as a
pilot. He attended helicopter training at Camp Wolters, Texas,
and Fort Rucker, Alabama. He earned his wings and commission as
a warrant officer in 1958; but because he wanted to be “in a
position where he could lead men” he then went on to Officer’s
Candidate School and graduated as a second lieutenant in 1962.
First stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, he went on to duty in
Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division from January 1964 through
March 1966. During this time he was promoted to captain. From
there he went overseas to Vietnam in March 1966 with the 720th
Maintenance Battalion as company commander, but later
transferred to the 196th Light Infantry Brigade, 8th Support
Battalion as their aircraft maintenance officer. Two days before
his death he sent a letter to his family and described his
meeting a four-year-old Vietnamese girl who was going blind, so
he took her and her mother to a doctor and helped pay their
expenses. When asked why he had done it, Ronald mentioned his
children at home and he hoped that if they needed help, someone
would help them. The following is a short quote from his letter
Children are the same the world over and
if nothing else can get to GI, a kid can… Looking at that
little four-year old girl makes me realize how fortunate and
lucky we are. God has been good to us and I can appreciate
and love more each day our children and you….
On January 12, 1967, Captain Ronald Van Regenmorter was
killed in Vietnam “while moving a helicopter from one part of
the airstrip to another when the engine failed and the
helicopter crashed and burned” at Tay Ninh near Saigon. After
his death, his body was returned to the United States. A funeral
service was held at East Side Presbyterian Church and then he
was buried at Hills of Rest Cemetery with full military honors.
Among Capt. Van Regenmorter’s many awards were the Good
Conduct Medal, Airborne Jump Wings, Flight Wings, Vietnam
Service and Campaign Medal, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Air
Medal with multiple Oak Leaf Clusters.
At the time of his death he was survived by his mother, Mrs.
Richard Brinkman; four brothers, Peter, Cornelius and Leonard,
and his twin brother Captain Donald Van Regenmorter, and three
sisters, Mrs. John Poppens, Mrs. Melvin Osterkamp, and Mrs.
Eugene Cummings, plus his widow, Karen, and his children, Kim
In closing, the following was posted on the VVMF website by
Jerry Winstead, a friend:
Ronald Van Regenmorter was my CO in Hawaii
before he went over to Vietnam. He was not only my CO, he
was a friend and one of the boys. He made being in the army
enjoyable, and was on top of things. He was just a great
person and will always be remembered.
This entry was respectfully submitted by Sami Stadel and
Hannah Wattier, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish,
South Dakota, on March 28, 2006. Information for this entry was
provided by a South Dakota Vietnam Veteran’s bonus application,
the Argus Leader, issues, January 16, 17, 22 of 1967 and
the VVMF website at www.vvmf.org.
Additional information and profile approval by Donald Van
Regenmorter, Captain, USA Retired, Fremont, Indiana.