In Memory of
U.S. Army Private Lily, South Dakota
Clark County

April 28, 1925 -- June 17, 1951
Died while Prisoner of War in Korea


Ralph Orlando Lien was born in Springvalley Township, South Dakota, on April 28, 1925, to Burton E. and Clara (Peterson) Lien. His parents lived in Crocker, South Dakota, at the time of his birth, but they later moved to Lily, where Ralph grew up. At the time Ralph was born, his father, who was 40, was a farmer and his mother, who was 33, was a housewife. Also in Ralph’s family were his three brothers and his four sisters. Ralph attended the Lily High School. After graduating high school, Ralph worked as a blacksmith.

Prior to the time he was sent to Korea, Ralph Lien served in World War II, in Europe. His three brothers also served in WW II. Ralph was activated from the Reserves on October 15, 1950, at Sioux Falls and arrived in Korea shortly after Christmas in 1950. Private Lien was not given too much training before being sent to Korea, since he had served in WW II, and had been through a lot of action. In Korea, he served in the 38th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division.

On February 12, 1951, Private Lien was taken Prisoner of War while fighting the enemy in the Battle of Taeusan. He was captured near Changbong-ni, South Korea, and sent to a prison camp. There is not much information on what happened to him after he was sent to the camp, but Private Lien died from Beri Beri on June 17, 1951.

Ralph Orlando Lien was originally buried near Changsong, North Korea, in 1951. After he was identified by a healed fracture on his wrist, and also by forensic science, his remains were returned to the United States, in 1954, and buried with military honors at West Saviour Cemetery, in Clark County, South Dakota. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Prisoner of War Medal, 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.

Ralph Orlando Lien was one of the men who served his country and fought in the Korean War, even after fighting in Europe in WW II. We should not forget the sacrifices he made, or what he went through.

The entry was respectfully submitted by April Goodson, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, on May 21, 2004. Information for this entry was submitted by Alan Lien, Kermit Lien, Esther A. Sandve, and SDNG Museum. Profile approval by Lien family.