In Memory of
U.S. Marine Corps Private First Class Custer, South Dakota
Custer County

September 11, 1930 – June 3, 1952
Drowned in Bismarck Lake near Custer


Joe Taggart, Jr. was born in Rushville, Sheridan, Nebraska on September 11, 1930. He was born to Joe, Sr. and Rosella Taggart. He had six sisters. Joe moved with his family to Custer in 1931, although they had previously lived in Custer before he was born. Before he entered the service, Joe, worked on an area ranch.

Joe Taggart, Jr. entered the Marines on March 19, 1952, at the age of 19. Pfc. Taggart had boot camp training at San Diego, California, and was en route to Camp Pendleton, California, when he was called home for a short leave because of his father’s health.

On June 3, 1952, Taggart and his father were fishing in the Bismarck Lake about five miles east of Custer when Pfc. Taggart fell into the water after slipping on the shore. Because Pfc. Taggart could not swim, his father went into the water after him and tried repeatedly to bring him to shore but couldn’t due to his own recent illness. Others also joined in the rescue effort after hearing Joe Taggart, Sr. yell for help, but even after repeated dives in the cold lake water, they couldn’t locate Pfc. Taggart.

After Custer County authorities were called, it took them nearly an hour to locate the body of Pfc. Taggart. His funeral was held in Custer, and he was buried with military honors in the Pringle cemetery.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Cali Ewing, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota. The information for this entry was provided by the Custer Co. Chronicle, June 5 and 12, 1952 issues. Memorial stone photo by Mrs. Hansen. No family contact made.