In Memory of
U.S. Marine Corps Master Sergeant Wanblee, South Dakota
Jackson County

December 23, 1919 – September 20, 1951
Killed in Air Crash of L-19A Bird Dog in Korea


Robert “Bob” John Russell was born December 23, 1919, in Martin, South Dakota, to Andrew and Sophie (Allen) Russell. He was a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and grew up in Wanblee. Robert had two brothers, Joe and Floyd, and two sisters, Louise (Mesteth) and Dorothy (Brown). After high school, Robert attended School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. He enlisted in the Marine Corps on January 12, 1942, during WW II. He then served in combat in the Pacific Theater; during that time he “distinguished himself…by becoming an officer.” After WW II, he “reverted to the enlisted ranks to become a Marine pilot with observation squadron No. 6,” according to a newspaper article. Robert married Margaret Payne of Bogart, Georgia. They had one child, Jacquline Ann.

Marine Corps Master Sergeant Robert Russell then flew 103 safe missions over enemy territory during the Korean War as a member of VMO-6; their job was to perform reconnoitering. On September 20, 1951, Master Sergeant Robert J. Russell was on a mission “in the Yo Sang Area at the time of an overcast which made him remain so low as to be within range of artillery fire at all times.” His L-19 crashed near Sinchon, Korea, killing him. His body was later recovered and he was returned to the United States, accompanied home by military police and buried with military honors at Wanblee.

His awards as documented by the Department of the Navy are as follows:

Additionally, Marine Master Sergeant Russell was later awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The family is looking into the possibility of securing a Purple Heart for him as well.

Robert was from a long line of soldiers. His grandfather, father, brothers, and brother-in-law also proudly served their country.

This entry is respectfully submitted by Hillary Stevens, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, July 30, 2004. Information for this entry was obtained from the Martin Messenger, November 22, 1951, issue, the South Dakota National Guard Museum, and the ABMC website. Additional information and profile approval provided by Donna Russell Randall, niece, Margaret Hood, widow, and Jacquline Crumpacker, daughter.