In Memory of
U.S. Army Private First Class Bemidji, Minnesota and Springfield, South Dakota
Beltrami County and Bon Homme County

March 28, 1932-- June 1, 1951
Killed in Action in Korea


Howard Lewis Dreyer was born on March 28, 1932, in Bemidji, Minnesota, to Leon Herbert and Alma Susanna Dreyer, who were both former residents of southeastern South Dakota. He was the twelfth child. In one year, Howard passed from the 5th to the 8th grade the following fall. Although he professed a dislike of studying, he was a “voracious reader” according to family. Since the family owned and operated a dairy farm, Howard was interested in the “development of the young calves and took calves to the Minnesota State Fair on three occasions.” Howard also liked to swim and ice fish. One time when he was 6, he and two of his brothers, Wayne, 8, and Richard, 5, were fishing and Wayne fell through the ice. Howard “engineered a ‘human chain’ and got a hand on him and pulled him to safety.” Years later, Richard remembered how calm Howard had seemed throughout the ordeal. Although he wasn’t very big in high school, he was very strong. Howard once managed to move an anvil that weighed about as much as he did into the shop class. He enlisted in the Army while a senior at Bemidji High School in Minnesota; shortly after graduating in 1949, Howard and his siblings moved back to Springfield, South Dakota.

In August of 1949, Dreyer enlisted in the United States Army and spent time at Camp Carson, Colorado; Fort Riley, Kansas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Benning, Georgia; and Fort Campbell, Kentucky as a member of the 187th Airborne Infantry Regimental Combat Squad, which is the equivalent to today’s Rangers. He had in about 75 jumps, including three in Korea. PFC Dreyer was sent to Korea sometime in 1950 and was continually mobilized around the country.

Private First Class Howard Dreyer was killed in action on June 1, 1951 while fighting Communist troops near Soho-Ri, North Korea. He was only 19 years old. After his death, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “extraordinary heroism in action”; the details of his death and heroism are quoted from his citation:

…during this attack the gunner manning a light machine gun was killed instantly, leaving Private Dreyer, automatic rifleman, with the only automatic weapon in operation. Realizing the immediate need for automatic fire, Private Dreyer exposed himself to the enemy and delivered a devastating volume of fire into the hostile ranks, temporarily halting their attack and giving his comrades time to put the light machine gun in operation. When the order was given for the company to withdraw, Private Dreyer volunteered to remain behind and provide covering fire for his comrades. Again exposing himself to the enemy, he raked them with fire from his automatic weapon until all personnel and equipment were moved to an alternate position….

At 0730 hours, Private Dreyer and three comrades volunteered to counterattack the enemy positions in an attempt to regain the terrain….He killed approximately 20 enemy soldiers and assisted in routing the remainder from their positions. As Private Dreyer reached the top of the hill, he inspired his comrades to greater efforts by standing upright and calling for them to advance. During the final phase of the counterattack he was killed.

The body of Private First Class Howard Dreyer was returned to the United States, and he was buried with military honors at the Greenwood Cemetery, Bemidji, Minnesota.

In August of 1951 after Pfc. Dreyer’s death, while his mother was still living in Springfield, South Dakota, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky dedicated a field house in remembrance of Howard Lewis Dreyer: the Dreyer Field House. In 2001, 23 members of PFC Dreyer’s extended family attended the re-dedication ceremony of the Field House on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Besides the Distinguished Service Cross, Private First Class Dreyer was also awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal, and the Korean War Service Medal.

In the closing words of his DSC citation are these words: “His display of extraordinary heroism and selfless devotion to duty contributed greatly to the success of his company in this engagement and were keeping with the highest traditions of the military services.”



This entry was respectfully submitted by Jason Klein, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, SD. Information for this entry was provided by the SD National Guard Museum, newspaper clippings, and Dr. Kirt Dreyer, Bemidji, MN, brother to Pfc. Dreyer. Profile approved by Dr. Kirt Dreyer.