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In Memory of U.S.  Air Force Airman First Class

Ronald Russell Schnaidt

Aberdeen, South Dakota, Brown County

December 24, 1946 – April 5, 1967

Died of Injures in Aircraft Accident in Vietnam


Ronald Russell “Ron” Schnaidt was born December 24, 1946, in Hoven, South Dakota, to Robert and Viola (Sulzle) Schnaidt. His siblings were Darrell, Kurt, and Angela Rae. He moved to Aberdeen when he was nine months old. Ronald went to public schools in Aberdeen. He graduated at Central High School in 1964. According to his brother, Darrell, Ron “enjoyed fishing, hunting, and playing baseball.” He was first in the Cub Scouts and later the Boy Scouts. He also joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is where he got his love of flying and later decided to join the Air Force. He was also known to be a kind and generous friend to all.

Ronald R. Schnaidt enlisted in the Air Force in June of 1964, right out of high school. He did his basic training at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. He was first assigned to Chanute Air Force Base at Rantoul, Illinois and then at McChord Air Force Base at Tacoma, Washington as a Loadmaster which means his duties “were to balance loads of cargo on C123 and C130 cargo planes.” While at McChord, A1C Schnaidt flew missions to lots of places, including Alaska, Hawaii, Wake Island, and the Philippines. Next, he was sent to Eglin Air Force Base near Pensacola, Florida for training in combat and survival and then he went overseas, stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in Saigon, South Vietnam “where he flew missions all over South Vietnam.”

US Air Force Airman First Class Ronald Russell Schnaidt was killed when “[as] a loadmaster on a C123 cargo plane, [he] was killed instantly Tuesday when he fell from the plane while he was attempting to close a troop exit door shortly after takeoff.” His family was notified when “two officers from Grand Forks Air Base and the Pastor from our church came to our house to tell us of Ron’s death and gave my parents the Western Union telegram.” More details came in a letter that followed from his commanding officer:

The commander also said of Ronald, “Ronald’s enthusiasm for his work had earned him the respect of not only the members of his squadron, but all others with whom he came in contact.” From Ron’s squadron, T. Sgt. Jimmy Utterback, wrote to the family as well. In it, he said, “…I personally feel a great loss as Ronald and I were recently assigned to the same crew. But I had flown with him on several occasions before and I felt very close to Ron because I am a father of six children with a son of 15. Therefore, being much older it was more like a father and son team…”

The body of Ronald Russell Schnaidt was returned to the United States of America and after a funeral service, he was buried with military honors at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Aberdeen.

Ronald was survived by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Schnaidt, his brothers, Darrell and Kurt, and sister, Angela (Schnaidt) Schaible. In closing, Darrell said on behalf of the family, “Life without Ron was very hard on the family for a long time, especially during Christmas as he was born on Christmas Eve. Now that a lot of time has passed it isn’t as hard; however, we always attend the services at his grave site on Memorial Day and still have tears.”


This entry was respectfully submitted by Trevor Walz, with assistance from Michaela Anderson ,8th grade Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on February 10, 2006. Information for this entry was provided by Darrell Schnaidt, Aberdeen, brother, and the Aberdeen American News, April 7, 1967 issue. Profile approval by the Schnaidt family via Darrell.


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