Memory of U.S. Marines Corporal
David Eugene Hevle
Yankton, South Dakota, Yankton County
September 8, 1944 – April 8, 1967
Died from Wounds Received in Action in Vietnam
David Eugene Hevle was born September 8, 1944, in Yankton,
South Dakota, to Orlein M. and Mary J. Hevle. He had two
brothers, Michael and Douglas. David attended high school in
Yankton, South Dakota; shortly before graduation David joined
the Marines Corps. His brother Doug wrote, “David had a, big
smile… He liked to play most sports and just sit around and
visit with his friends.”
David Hevle entered the service December 26, 1961. He was
sent overseas on May 15, 1966, as Marine Corporal with
Headquarter Platoon, B Company, Third AmTrack Battalion, First
Corporal David Eugene Hevle died near Chu Lai Republic of
Vietnam on April 8, 1967, while on patrol northwest of Song Tra-Bong
River in the Binh Son District of the Quang Ngai Province. He
suffered from third degree burns and was killed instantly when
the Amphibian Tractor he was riding hit a mine and exploded. His
family received many letters of sympathy, including ones from
General Westmoreland, President Johnson, and the governor of
South Dakota, Nils Boe. His commanding officer wrote of his
“loyalty and honesty” and that he “was one of the most popular
men in his company and well known throughout the Battalion”
because he “knew his job and performed it well.” His sense of
humor and dependability were also what made him so well liked.
As one Marine wrote, “It was a privilege to have been his
David Hevle’s body was “encased” and returned to the United
States with a military escort to be buried either in a private
cemetery or a national cemetery. His funeral service was held at
the Trinity Lutheran Church, officiated by Rev. Robert Jacobsen
who said that Corporal Hevle “gave his life that we might live
in peace.” His body was then buried with military honors at
Garden of Memories Cemetery in Yankton.
David Hevle was the first Yankton man killed in action in
Vietnam. He earned thirteen medals, including two Purple Hearts,
“one of the highest medals a soldier could receive for getting
wounded in action.” Among his other medals and awards was the
Navy Commendation Medal. The following is the citation for the
Doug, David’s brother, said that the best way to describe
David and what he believed was the poem he wrote home while
serving in Vietnam:
“Stop It Here in Vietnam”
Another day has ended for some darn good men.
Wasn’t long ago this was far off place,
Now its mud is a part of my face.
Not just me, but thousands more.
Will walk these hills for those damn VC
So a simple country’s peace can go free.
I sit here at the end of a long, long day
And ask myself, is there some easier way?
The college professors say, this is no reason
for men to die.
Have you heard the wounded cry?
When they sit at home in their easy chairs
I wonder do they hear gun shot that gray
Young men here grow up fast,
So our way of life will ever last.
To a school boy back in the States, ten bucks
Just a letter here, is like God’s own touch.
Because of the Reds my friends have bled and
And when their folks got the word they broke
Sure, we get good chow, it’s not all that
bad; I chose this way of life
I did it because some day I’ll have a wife.
I’ll have a home and a couple of kids
They’re going to know what freedom is.
Still some good men say
It doesn’t make a damn.
Buddy, I say it does,
And we’ve got to stop it here in Vietnam.
The Disabled American Veterans chapter in Yankton is known as
the Hevle-Heimes Chapter No. 17, which honors the first two
local men killed in Vietnam.
His family said in closing, “David was young, brave, and
willing to fight for the freedom of his country. To us he was a
hero that should never be forgotten for giving his sacred life
in hopes that his country would end up winning the war.”
This entry was respectfully submitted by Brandy Kingsley and
Brittney Vansickel, 8th Graders, Spearfish Middle School,
February 11, 2006. The information for this entry was provided
by Douglas Hevle, brother, the Vietnam Veterans Bonus
Application, and the Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan, April 12,
1967 and April 24, 1967 issues. Profile approval by Douglas