Richard "Rich" Arne Koski

Army Badge
  • Name: Richard "Rich" Arne Koski
  • Location of Birth: Itasca County, Minnesota
  • Date of Birth: June 3, 1942
  • Date of Death: March 8, 1968 (25 years old)
  • Parents: Arne Koski and Gertrude (Salmi) Koski
  • High School and Class: 1960 - Greenway High School, Coleraine, Minnesota
  • College:
  • Highest Rank: 1ST LT (First Lieutenant)
  • Branch: Army
  • Other Branch:
  • Date Sworn In: October 13, 1965
  • Place Sworn In:
  • Date of Discharge: KIA - March 8, 1968
  • Place of Discharge:
  • Units and Locations:
    Start Date End Date Unit(s) and Location(s) Served
    October 13, 1965 Basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
    Individual infantry training at Fort Jackson, North Carolina
    Transferred to the United States Army Artillery and Missile School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma
    October 25, 1966 Graduated as a second lieutenant
    Jungle War Training in Panama
    Commissioned as a first lieutenant at Oakland Air Fore Base in California before departing for Vietnam
  • Military Awards:
    Purple Heart
    Bronze Star
    Silver Star
    Oak Leaf Cluster
    Distinguished Service Cross
    Combat Infantryman Badge
    Marksmanship Badge
    National Defense Service Medal
    Vietnam Campaign Medal
    Vietnam Service Medal
    Army Presidential Unit Citation
    Vietnam Gallantry Cross
    Army Good Conduct Medal

  • Military Highlights:
    Richard had enlisted in the United States Army and served during the Vietnam War. He had the rank of First Lieutenant. His military occupation or specialty was Field Artillery Unit Commander and he was attached to 9th Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion, 34th Artillery, A Battery.

    Richard died through hostile action, small arms fire in South Vietnam, Dinh Tuong province.

    Richard is honored on the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, D.C. His name is inscribed on Panel 43e, Line 57.

    Richard received his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He received individual infantry training at Fort Jackson, North Carolina, and then was transferred to the United States Army Artillery and Missile School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He graduated from the school on October 25, 1966, as a second lieutenant, received jungle war training in Panama and was then commissioned as a first lieutenant at Oakland Air Force Base in California before departing for Vietnam.

    Lt. Koski served with the Mobile Riverine Raiders, special forces of the 4th Infantry Division at the time of his death.

    The following three letters were sent to Steven R. Koski, none have dates.

    Letter from William E. Rawlinson, Jr. - Lieutenant Colonel, Artillery Commanding - Department of The Army, Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 34th Artillary (sp) A.P.O. San Francisco 96373

    Dear Master Koski,

    I extend my most profound sympathy to you on the recent loss of your father, First Lieutenant Richard A. Koski, 05 424 564, Battery A, 3rd Battalion, 34th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division, who died in the service of his country on the eight of March 1968.

    During the night of the Eighth of March, Richard was acting as the Artillery Forward Observer with an infantry company on an operation east of My Tho, Republic of Vietnam. When the unit became heavily engaged with an enemy force, he moved to the perimeter and began adjusting artillery fire on the enemy, he moved to an exposed position and adjusted the rounds in close to the friendly forces. While maneuvering the fire, he was killed by shrapnel.

    While there is little that can be said to alleviate your grief for the loss of your father, we sincerely hope that you will find a degree of comfort in knowing that we also share your loss. Richard was a forthright, loyal soldier who won and earned the respect of the men around him. As a member of this battalion, he had a reputation as one of our most professional and compentent (sp) officers and was well liked by the men who served with him. He had volunteered to extend his tour so that he could serve as an aerial observer with Division Artillery and had expressed his intentions to become a career officer. You may take pride that your father was an outstanding solider who was a credit to the uniform he wore and the country he served.

    A memorial service was held for him by Chaplain Towley and was attended by his friends and associates in this battalion. As a measure of how highly regarded he was by the infantry battalion with whom he worked, a second memorial service was held for him by the officers and men of that command.

    Once again, personally and for the men of this battalion, please accept this letter as a symbol of our sympathy.

    Letter from Julian J. Ewell, Major General, USA Commanding - Department of the Army, Headquarters 9th infantry division, APO San Francisco 96370

    Dear Master Koski:

    On behalf of the members of the Ninth Infantry Division I extend our deepest sympathy for the loss of your father, First Lieutenant Koski, who died in combat on the Eighth of March 1968, in the Province of Dinh Tuong, Republic of Vietnam.

    We are proud to have had him as a part of this Division and we feel his loss deeply. Lieutenant Colonel Rawlinson, his Battalion Commander has informed me that he was a fine officer whose ability, spirit, and devotion to duty made him a valued and respected member of this Division and the United States Army. He will be missed by his fellow officers.

    I know that his death has been a great personal blow to you. However, I hope that you can find a measure of consolation in the fact that your father gave his life in the service of his country, and for a most worthwhile cause. We who are left will close ranks and continue our struggle to bring freedom to Vietnam.

    We share your deep sorrow and join you in your prayers.

    Letter from Carl K. Towley - Chaplain (Captain), USA Assistant Post Chaplain - Department of the Army, 3rd Battalion, 34th Artillery, Office of the Chaplain, APO San Francisco 96372:

    Dear Master Koski:

    The death of your father, Richard, came as a shock to all of us. Richard was killed while on a reconnaissance in force operation on the Eighth of March, and his presence is greatly missed by all who knew him.

    We realize you will feel this loss much greater than we; therefore we pray that God will be near you in this hour of mourning and bring comfort to you. The departed whom we now remember has entered into the peace of life eternal. He still lives on earth in the acts of goodness he performed and in the hearts of those who cherish his memory. May the beauty of his life abide among us as a living benediction. Let us also remember that "Neither life nor death nor any other creature shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord".

    May your faith be sustained in this loss by the words of the Psalmist:

    I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come?

    My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

    May God's blessing be with you and your family in this time of sorrow.

    Itasca Man Awarded Posthumous Army Medals

    First lieutenant Richard A. Koski, son of Mrs. Gertrude Koski of Keewatin and Arne Koski of Pengilly, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the bronze star, the silver star and the first oak leaf cluster posthumously for battlefield valor in Vietnam.

    The citation accompanying the award reads: "Lieutenant Koski distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous actions on March 8, 1968 as artillery forward observer with an infantry unit during an airmobile assault mission near My Tho.

    "The helicopter formation received a devastating volume of automatic weapons and machine gun fire as it arrived at the landing zone, and only Lt. Koski's ship and one other aircraft were able to discharge their passengers onto the battlefield.

    "The insurgents immediately pressed a furious assault on the outnumbered forces with savage rocket mortar and small arms fire. Braving the withering fusilade (sp), Lt. Koski called for artillery support and skillfully adjusted the fire to within 25 meters of the defender's perimeter.

    "Shrapnel and enemy bullets struck all around him, but he moved into the open time after time to located Viet Cong emplacements and destroy them with deady (sp) strikes. Seriously wounded by an exploding enemy round, he fearlessly continued his mission until he succumbed to his injuries.

    "His gallant and selfless actions in the heat of battle were instrumental in repelling the determined hostile attack and forcing the insurgents to withdraw. Lt. Koski's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty, at the cost of his life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the U.S. Army."

    For his actions that same day in Vietnam, Lt. Koski also received the Silver Star for aiding in retrieving wounded men and consolidating the defense into a more tenable position.

    The Bronze Star was awarded to the lieutenant for action February 4, 1968 while serving as a forward observer near Dong Pam base. He climbed to the top of a water tower on this occasion and directed artillery fire on the enemy.

    The first oak leaf cluster was awarded posthumously for outstanding meritorious service in connection with ground operations against a hostile force during the period from October 27, 1967 to March 8, 1968.

    Information from Grand Rapids Herald Review, Historical Review Section, dated April 18, 2021:
    April 21, 1991 - Names of eight Itasca County soldiers killed, missing, or prisoners of war during the Vietnam War will appear on a Northland Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Duluth. Local names appearing on the memorial will be: Lauren G. Huerd, Bovey; Richard R. Antonovich, Calumet; Norris L. Brenden, Deer River; Denny C. Smith, Deer River; Robert L. Anders, Ronald M. Fraser, Ronald L. Zempel, Grand Rapids; and Richard A. Koski, Pengilly.

  • Wars Involved:
    Vietnam Era

  • MIA / POW:
    Killed in Action

  • Civilian Life:
    Information from a news article on Lt. Richard Koski:

    Viet Casualty Services Due
    Pengilly - Funeral services will be held Monday at 2 p.m. in Pengilly for 1st Lt. Richard Arne Koski, 25, who was killed in action in Vietnam March 8.
    Lt. Koski died as a result of enemy action while on River Patrol action with the 47th Battalion of the 4th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta.
    Services will be held at the Pengilly Methodist Church with full military honors.
    Survivors include a daughter, Julie Ann and a son, Steven; his mother, Mrs. Gertrude Koski, his father and step-mother, Mr. and Mrs. Arne Koski; a sister, Wendy Koski; a brother, Randolph; and his material grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Nestor Freeman.
    Dougherty Funeral Home, Hibbing, is in charge of arrangements.
    Rev. Richard Kuhn will officiate. Visitation will be held after 4 p.m. Sunday at the Dougherty Funeral Home in Hibbing until noon Monday.
    The military from Finland Air Force Base, near Duluth, will conduct military rites.
    Pallbearers will be Roger Conrad, Bovey; John Glaser and Ron Glaser, Grand Rapids; Jerry Heino, Robert Goss and Dennis DeLeo, Pengilly.
    Burial will be at the Nashwauk Cemetery.

    Greenway Alumni Hall of Fame and Golf Outing
    "The Greenway 316 Alumni Association Hall of Fame and Golf Outing this year will be September 6 at the Eagle Ridge Golf Course in Coleraine. The golf scramble will start at 1 p.m. followed by a social hour at 3:30 p.m. and dinner at 4:30 p.m. with the induction ceremony following dinner. Tickets for the dinner are $ 15. Call Jean Cyronek 218-910-0492 for reservations. Call Eagle Ridge for tee times 218-245-2217.
    This year the inductees will be Alice Fraser Siegriest, class of 1960; Ann Magestad Will, class of 1975; Jerry Markovich, class of 1987; and Lt. Richard Koski, class of 1960.
    The tailgate party will be held on Friday, September 5, from 5-7 p.m. at the Dixon-Barle Football Field in Coleraine. Hamburgers will be available. Hall of Fame inductees will be introduced.

    Letter To The Editor from Barry George (no date available):
    "Veteran remembers young men of Dinh Tuong
    Almost 25 years have passed since Rich Koski died. Sometimes I think about the two young lieutenants from Minnesota...Gunner Four Two and Gunner Four Four.
    I first met Rich Koski Dec. 23, 1967. I had just been assigned as forward observer for Co E, 4/47th Infantry, Mobile Riverine Force, 9th Infantry Division. Rich was a seasonal FO with Co B. I had already heard about Gunner 42-the shootingest FO in the Mekong Delta. I don't think he had been an FO more than a few months, but time was intensified in the rice paddies of Dinh Tuong Province...everything was intensified.
    Rich taught me more in three weeks than I had learned in six months of OCS. Things he taught me probably saved my life more times than I know; probably saved the lives of a lot of guys in Co E. By the time the TET offensive hit, Rich had molded me into the second best FO in the Mekong Delta.
    The two young men of Dinh Tuong. The things we did, the places we went, the friendship we had.
    From time to time, the memories of Rich Koski flash through my mind. Sometimes for no apparent reason. Yes, I still think about Rich. I know there are others who do too, just wanted you to know, you aren't alone."

  • Tribal Affiliation(s):