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



In Memory of U.S. Army Specialist Fourth Class

Thomas Lee Zeigler

Hamill, South Dakota, Tripp County

 December 22, 1949 – March 22, 1971

Killed in Action in Quang Tin Province, South Vietnam

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.


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