In Memory of
Army S/Sgt.
Walter Keith Briggs
Fort Pierre, South Dakota
Haakon County
November 1, 1919 -- July 16, 1944
Killed in Action at St. Lo, France

Walter Keith Briggs

Walter Keith Briggs was born on November 1, 1919, to Walter D. Briggs and Katie  Briggs.  Walter had two sisters, Wauneta and Mary, and one brother, Kirby. Walter lived in a one-room log house and attended Carlin, a country school for eight years.  He then went on to high school and graduated Salutatorian of his class at Fort Pierre, South Dakota.  He was called “tall, dark and handsome ... about 6’ tall, with black hair and brown eyes.”

During the winter, Walter and Kirby liked to make and set traps for coyotes, badgers, and other animals. Walter loved many sports.  His sister, Wauneta, remembers Kirby and Walter lying in bed telling stories for entertainment. She also recalled that Walter used to “buck out horses” with neighbor boys and that he “used to pick up bull snakes and chase me with them—I hate snakes to this day.” Mary, his other sister, remembers helping Walter build fences and tend the garden.

While in high school, Walter joined the National Guard, spending two weeks each summer at guard camp. On March 16, 1942, Walter was inducted into the United States Infantry.  Trained at Camp Leavenworth, Kansas, and San Luis Obispo, California, Walter first served as a guard on Catilina Island for six months.  Then, on April 24, 1944, S/Sgt. Briggs was shipped overseas to the European theater of operations. 

While overseas, in a letter home, Walter wrote,

I can’t say much, though, except that I’m somewhere in England and
getting along okay. Everything seems rather strange here. I have seen
some really pretty country and also a number of places that have been
bombed.

I enjoyed my boat trip OK, and didn’t even feed the fish once, although
I came close to it one time....

On July 16,1944, S/Sgt. Walter Briggs was killed in action as part of Company B, 134th Infantry Regiment during the Normandy Invasion at St. Lo, France. His family received the following telegram:

The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep sympathy
that your son Staff Sergeant Walter K. Briggs was killed in action
on Sixteenth July in France.

Staff Sergeant Walter Briggs was buried in the U.S. Military Cemetery at St. Laurent, France.  After the war, he was reburied in the Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minnesota; Walter’s sister, Mary, and her husband took Mr. and Mrs. Briggs, brother Kirby and wife to the reburial services.

During his service, S/Sgt. Briggs received medals for his sharp shooting. At the request of the President, the Purple Heart was awarded to Staff Sergeant Walter K. Briggs, Infantry, “who sacrificed his life in defense of his country.”

Walter Keith Briggs

This entry was respectfully submitted by Tiffany Ness and Bethany Baker, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, December 9, 2000.  Information for this entry was provided by Mrs. Wauneta K. Briggs Stoeser, Ft. Pierre, SD, and Mrs. Mary D. Briggs Hedman, Hayes, South Dakota, sisters of Army Staff Sergeant Walter K. Briggs.