Michael Lewis - Staff Sergeant

Rank: Staff Sergeant
Date Of Birth: Mar 20, 1946
Date Of Death: Jun 13, 1969
War / Conflict: Vietnam
Hometown: Rock Valley, Iowa
Gold Star Hall - Wall Location: Southeast Wall (Top Portion)
Service Ribbons Awarded :
  • Silver Star
  • Purple Heart

Biography

Michael Keith Lewis was born in Rock Valley, Iowa on March 20, 1946 and grew up in Lake City, starting his school career at Lincoln Elementary School.  His father, A.J. “Lonnie” Lewis ran the local office for the Iowa Public Service.  His mother was a home-maker and the cub scout assistant den mother. Michael’s older siblings were Marvin, Marilyn and Mary.  

John Campbell was his life-long best friend and he sent us this remembrance about Michael:

“All through secondary schools at Lake City, Iowa, Mike Lewis was my best friend until we graduated in May 1964. He was active in cub scouts in my troop but the town did not have a boy scout troop so after age 11 we were done with scouts.  We both played on the same little league and Babe Ruth baseball teams, but he quit baseball to concentrate on golf at age 14.  He was a top notch golfer and wanted to be a golf course designer, which was his reason for attending Iowa State. 

He walked beans and bailed hay in the summers. He was a handsome although a short guy like me and had no trouble finding dates.  He was probably the best rock and roll dancer in the school.  Besides golf and baseball, he took part in class plays and our senior year had the lead in Our Town.  I had access to my brother's car, so we double dated all the time in our last two years of high school and he was always full of fun.

After graduating from high school in 1964, he went to Iowa State in the fall and I visited him there with another friend, Lynn Tevepaugh in the spring of 1965. It seemed to us that he was not much interested in college – more interested in girls!  He attended ISU from September 1964 to August 1967 and then he quit and was drafted. 

Mike went into the Army on February 6, 1968.  He went to Ft. Leonard Wood, MO for basic training and to Ft. Lewis, WA for his infantry training.  He was first in his basic training class and first in his infantry class so he was promoted quickly and trained for several months to be an infantry instructor. He attained the rank of Staff Sgt. or E-6, which is almost unheard of for a draftee.

He went to Vietnam in late 1968 or early 1969 and was assigned to Company D, 3/60th, the 9th Division Mobile Riverine Force. On June 13, 1969, in Kien Hoa province in the Mekong Delta, Mike was trying to secure a landing zone for a dust off helicopter to evacuate some wounded when he tripped on a land mine and was killed. He had already been awarded a Silver Star and was awarded a second one after his death, along with air combat, purple heart and combat infantry badges. 

I was in the army at the time of his death and could not return for his funeral. He and I had a falling out after I visited him on campus, because I told him he was messing up by not concentrating more on college, and he told me to mind my own business. I have always regretted not re-establishing our friendship after that because we had been inseparable all through school. I respect his valor and his long friendship.” 

On the Vietnam Memorial website, a message was posted by veteran, Dewayne Beltran, “Mike was our platoon Sargent. He bandaged the wounds that I received in an ambush on May 23, 1969. I never got a chance to thank him for helping me. I think of him often.”

After Mike was killed, Lake City placed a flag pole and bronze plaque in the city park in his memory.  His dad was retired and used to sit in his car by the pole most of each day and kept the snow swept from it all winter.