In Memory of
U.S. Army Corporal Kimball, South Dakota
Brule County

December 24, 1930 – October 14, 1952
Killed in Action in Korea

Glenn William Runge was born on December 24, 1930, in Kimball, South Dakota, the youngest son of Fred Runge and Anna (Suhl) Runge. Also in his family were his brother, Floyd, and his six sisters: Alice, Esther, Josephine, Joyce, Pearl, and Gloria. At the age of four, his mother died, and so Glenn was raised by two of his sisters, Alice and Esther. Glenn also had a step-brother, Richard Korzan. His father, Fred, passed away in 1950. Glenn grew up in Kimball where he attended high school. After he graduated, he worked as a truck driver for his father’s business, Runge Transfer. As a child, one of Glenn’s hobbies was nursing wounded animals. His family remembers him as young, handsome, and caring.

When Glenn was drafted into the Army, in October 1951, he was first sent to basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was further trained as a medic at Camp Pickett, Virginia, attached to the 5th Medical Training Battalion. He was given the chance to remain in the United States longer before being sent to Korea. Corporal Runge did not take the offer. He was sent to Korea as a combat medic in Able Company, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division on April 20, 1952, from Fort Lawton, Washington. At first he was in a rear area. In a letter to his sister he wrote, “I think I would rather go up to the front line,” which eventually happened. One story was told that once Corporal Runge answered a call for a medic, but found out that an armed North Korean had called him. He was wounded but wouldn’t go to the rear areas. After that incident, however, he trained the men to call him “Runge” instead of “Medic.”

On October 14, 1952, he was on the front lines, somewhere around Kumwha, Korea, “poised for the first assault to take Jane Russell Hill.” Medic Corporal Runge was preparing for the possibility of a 75% casualty rate while the official estimates were closer to 5%.

Even though he had taught his men to yell his name so he wouldn’t be in as much danger, he was killed while fighting the enemy and caring for the wounded on October 14, 1952. In particular, Corporal Runge helped drag the commanding officer of Able Company, a 1st Lieutenant, who was wounded, knocked unconscious, and lying in danger. During the chaos of the battle, a retreat was ordered so that the regiment could reorganize. Men began climbing down a steep hill, and Corporal Runge joined them. He was having a little trouble, but he reached the bottom and found a friend, James. Both men were wounded, but still, they each grabbed another wounded soldier to carry out of the fighting. James was in the lead when he heard a scream behind him and realized Corporal Runge had been hit. After surviving 16 hours of intense combat, he was killed in action. He was 21.

When the body of Corporal Glenn Runge was returned home for burial, his family was not convinced it was him since some stories were being told of families who found nothing but rocks and gravel in the sealed caskets. Therefore, they fought for the right to open the casket before burial. After gaining permission from the military, Glenn’s brother and two brothers-in-law had the daunting task of identifying him even though he had been the victim of a direct mortar hit. A childhood scar above his eyebrow convinced them. Plus, men from his platoon had said, “Every soldier knows his medic. This man was ours.” This removed the family’s doubt.

Glenn Runge was buried with military honors in the plot the Runge family has at the St. Margaret’s Catholic Cemetery in Kimball. Glenn William Runge was 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.

That 1st Lieutenant, who went on to become a Colonel, told the family a few years ago before he passed away, “Your Granduncle [Glenn] saved my life.” It is clear that Corporal Glenn Runge lived a life of honor and died a heroic, gallant death.

As his grandniece, Venita Spier, wrote in a memorial letter to her granduncle, “You gave comfort in a time of turmoil; you faced death in order to saves lives. That should not be forgotten.”

I will not forget the service and sacrifice of Corporal Glenn Runge.

This entry was respectfully submitted by April Goodson, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 14, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by South Dakota National Guard Museum, Venita Spier’s article in the Rock County Leader, Bassett, Nebraska, 11/6/02 issue, sent via Richard Korzan, Brule County News, 10/30/52, 12/18/52, 12/25/52 issues, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and an application for a SD veteran’s bonus. Profile approval by Venita L. Spier, niece.