In Memory of
U.S. Army Corporal Rapid City, South Dakota
Pennington County

November 15, 1925 – January 20, 1951
Killed in Action in Korea


Robert Ivan Lewis was born November 15, 1925, in Chamberlain, Brule County, South Dakota, and raised in Rapid City. His parents were William George and Esther Mabel (Mowry) Lewis. Robert had four sisters: Isabelle, Rose, Lucile, and Elizabeth (Betty), and one brother, William, Jr. Lewis was well-liked and very musical inclined. He played the banjo in the Lonesome Lloyd Band, which later became the Buddy Merideth Band.

Lewis enlisted in the Army and served in France and Germany during WW II. He returned to the United States in 1946, but was unable to find adequate work to support his children, Roberta and Robert, Jr., so he reenlisted into the Army on July 15, 1950. He was stationed first at Fort Riley, Kansas, then Camp Stoneman in California. From there, Lewis was sent overseas in September of 1950, as a member of Company L, 17th Infantry.

On January 20, 1951, Corporal Robert Ivan Lewis was Platoon leader on a night mission where five men were captured and Lewis was reportedly injured. The men were later released, but Corporal Lewis never appeared. In January of 1952, the family received a letter from the Adjutant General of the Army that Corporal Lewis’ status was being changed to killed in action.

In August of 2003, at Senator Daschle’s request, the Army once again reviewed the case and wrote the following: “Documents in the file show Corporal Lewis was killed in action on January 20, 1951, near the Pyong-Chang River, Llogk, South Korea. There is nothing in his file to show the exact circumstances of his death or declare him a prisoner of war.” His remains were found in a shallow grave and identified by dental records and his dogtags.

Corporal Lewis’ remains were then returned to the United States and buried with military honors in the soldier section of the Mt. View Cemetery in Rapid City, SD. He was awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Korean Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean War Service Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Aeriell A. Follette, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 15, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by Isabelle Christopherson, Rapid City, South Dakota, sister of Corporal Robert Ivan Lewis and from the South Dakota National Guard Museum. Profile approval by Isabelle Christopherson.