Memory of U.S. Army Specialist Fourth Class
Thomas Lee Zeigler was born on December 22, 1949, to
Leonard and Alice (Lindholm) Zeigler at Winner, South
Dakota. His siblings were Bonnie and Beverly Zeigler. He and
his family lived in the Millboro area of South Dakota and
then moved to Denver, Colorado, for a time. While in Denver,
he played the trombone in the honor band, was in Boy Scouts
and baseball leagues, and sang in the chorus. He was known
for his musical ability; he learned by ear the guitar,
piano, and harmonica. While they lived in Colorado, the
family loved to go hiking and picnicking in the mountains.
The family later moved back to Hamill, South Dakota. They
attended school for a year at Colome, but the remainder of
their education was in Winner, from where Thomas graduated
high school in 1968.
Before he entered the service, Thomas worked with his
father as a carpenter and would help out with his
grandparents’ grocery store; he also like to go hunting and
fishing and enjoyed most indoor and outdoor sports,
especially in company with his cousin, Jack Rose, who was
more like a brother than a cousin, according to family. He
is also remembered by his sisters as “a person who had to
have everything a certain way and if something had to be
done it was immediately done not later.” They were a
close-knit family. A last story about Tom: one hot summer
day Tom was bored because he had done all his chores, so he
tried to find water with a post hole digger in the back of
the family’s house. Tom “hit water in less then 6 feet down.
Needless to say a well was dug and lots of water to water
our newly planted trees, garden, lawns, etc, in Hamill,”
according to his sister, Bonnie.
On September 16, 1969, Thomas Lee Ziegler entered the
service. He was trained in Ft. Lewis, Washington. On July
27, 1970, Thomas Lee Zeigler was shipped to Cha Lai, DaNang,
Khe Sanh in Vietnam. He was a Specialist Fourth Class and
squad leader for Company C, 5th Battalion, 46th Infantry
Regiment, and 23rd Infantry (Americal) Division.
On March 22, 1971, SP/4 Thomas Zeigler was killed in
action in Vietnam. He only had one month left to serve. He
was only 21. One of his buddies in Vietnam, Lt. Scotty
Longhurst, wrote some years later to tell Mr. and Mrs.
Zeigler that he had not forgotten them nor Tom and that he
“decided to write a complete history” of his time in Vietnam
and would make sure they had a copy when it was complete.
The body of SP/4 Thomas Zeigler was returned to the
United States and he was buried with military honors in the
Winner Cemetery. In his memory, many things were done. At
the Zion Lutheran Church in Hamill, three Colorado spruce
trees (now full-grown) were planted along with the placing
of a white slab of rock on which there is a name plate.
Other area churches also had memorials to Thomas. In 1987,
when then-Governor William Janklow dedicated the Memorial
Wall and the Eternal Flame in Pierre, Thomas’ niece, Mary
Lou Lake, represented the American Legion Junior Unit and
the VFW Junior Unit from her area in the ceremony.
Thomas Zeigler is currently survived by his sisters,
Bonnie Lou Lake and Beverly Jean Zeigler, Winner, SD.
Specialist Fourth Class Thomas Lee Zeigler was a
hard-working, well liked man. His short 21 years has left a
lasting impression on the lives of the people he touched.
left: Tom (middle) and his buddy, Scott
(left); Middle: Lutheran Church in Hamill with memorial;
right: Tom at home at Christmas, 1969
This entry was respectfully submitted by Kirstie Bradley
8th grade, Spearfish Middle School South, Dakota, Oct 12,
2005.Information for this entry was provided by the Zeigler
family, via Bonnie Lake and Beverly Jean Zeigler. Additional
information was provided by a Vietnam veteran’s bonus
application. Profile approval by Bonnie Lake.