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



In Memory of U.S. Army Specialist Fourth Class

Denis James Zimprich

Hazel, South Dakota, Codington County

January 7, 1949 -- April 7, 1970

Killed in Action in Vietnam

Denis James Zimprich was born January 7, 1949, in Bellflower, California, to Richard and Inez Zimprich. He had five sisters, Carleen, Joy, Jane, Janice, and Diana. When he was still just a baby, he moved with his family to Grover, South Dakota. He attended grade school in Grover and high school in Hazel, South Dakota. Denis graduated from Hazel High School in 1967. He had further education at Humboldt Institute in Minneapolis and graduated in 1968. After graduating, he was a clerk for Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company for a year. He enjoyed hunting, bowling, and, especially, spending time with the family.

Denis Zimprich entered the service on the 19th of March in 1969 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He was sent overseas on August 23, 1969, as a Specialist Fourth Class with A Company, 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 4th Infantry Division. On February 23, 1970, Specialist Zimprich was wounded in action.

On April 7, 1970, Specialist Fourth Class Denis James Zimprich was killed in the highlands of the Binh Dinh province of South Vietnam while with his squad on a night ambush. He was “attempting to circle the unit and deliver the radio to another guard he became misoriented and walked into the ambush.” His body was returned to the United States, and after funeral services, he was buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery with full military honors. The below quote is from a letter sent to his parents from his commanding officer:

In the eight months that Denis was with the company he was well liked by everyone who had the opportunity to work with him. His cheerful performance of duty greatly enhanced the morale of his squad, platoon and the entire company. He performed the tasks assigned him eagerly and proficiently. His high morale and good natured attitude made him a good friend as well as fellow soldier to all members of his squad, platoon and company. Your grief is shared by all who knew him.

Members of his Platoon also sent his family a handwritten note that included the words, “Although it is impossible to fathom the depth of your grief, you are never the less not alone in your sorrow. To us Denis was a friend and an exemplary soldier and we will miss him.” The letter from Lima Platoon went on: “The pressures of war forbid us but a moment of solemn reflection, but that moment and the events of that fateful night are forever burnt in our memories.”

Medals Denis received included the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster,, a Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, a Vietnam Service Medal, a Vietnam Campaign Medal, a Combat Infantry Badge, an Expert Badge with Rifle Bar, and a Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar. Below is the citation for his Bronze Medal, awarded for “meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces in Vietnam from 23 August 1969 to 7 April 1970”:

Through his untiring efforts and professional ability, he consistently obtained outstanding results. He was quick to grasp the implications of new problems with which he was faced as a result of the ever changing situations inherent in a counter- insurgency operation and to find ways and means to solve those problems. The energetic application his extensive knowledge has materially contributed to the efforts of the United States mission to the Republic of Vietnam to assist that country in ridding itself of the Communist threat to its freedom. His initiative, zeal, sound judgement and devotion to duty have been in the highest tradition of the United States army and reflect great credit on himself, his unit and the military service.

He is currently survived by his four sisters: Carleen Kannas, Jane Jenson, Janice Jorgenson, and Diana Penney. In conclusion, Kyle Bevers posted a remembrance of Denis on “Denis and I were classmates in a class of 19. His death was a very high percentage for a class so small. Like most of my classmates, I did not serve in the military so have often thought that Denis gave his life for our freedom. That was a very high price he paid for the rest of us. Thank you, Denis. Kyle.”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Paul Blasi, 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, and the Watertown Public Opinion, issue, March 13, 1970. Additional information and profile approval by Carleen Kannas, Jane Jenson, Janice Jorgenson, and Diana Penney, sisters of Specialist Fourth Class Zimprich.


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