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Sanford Kim Archer, USMC, KIA in Vietnam

September 27, 2016

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I remember that Kim Archer played football with us when we were on the junior varsity team and that Kim was from Melrose and a large family.  Or maybe it was another kid from Melrose whose family was large.  Large is six kids or more.  Kim also ran in track meets his first two years of high school.  He wrestled when he was a senior.

Anyway, a bully hounded me when I was a sophomore.  He was older and heavier than I was and he got me to agree to an after school fight.  I finally agreed, after being badgered.  I remember that Kim Archer urged me to fight, saying “You’ll be the tougher for it.”

I did go out behind the school for the fight, but I ended up sitting on the ground, kicking at the bully.  Interestingly, I was friend with the bully’s little brother who was considerably smaller than I was and quite friendly.  Ultimately the bully and I quit fighting and I didn’t get hurt and neither did he.

The next time I remember seeing Kim Archer was in an English class.  He was a senior and I was a junior.  Kim sat in the back of the class and sang, I think, to bother the teacher.  Anyway, Mrs. Henningsen asked Kim to stop interrupting, but urged him to join the school choir.  Kim finally quit singing and I don’t remember him much after that.  He didn’t join the choir.  I do remember thinking that Kim, for all of his small stature, was large in toughness.

When I was a freshman at the University of Montana, I always read through my hometown paper, the Dillon Tribune and my high school newspaper, The Beaver.  That’s when I learned that Kim had been killed in action in Vietnam while in the Marines.

Years later, in fact about 11 or 12 years ago, I saw a poster listing all of the soldiers who had been killed, by Montana county.  Turns out Kim Archer was the only one from our home county of Beaverhead County.  This was ironic, considering that Beaverhead County was home of the Montana John Birch Society, and extremely right-wing.

Questions I had:  Was Kim Archer’s admonition to me responsible for me joining the Marines in 1969?  What exactly happened to Kim in Vietnam?

When visiting my middle child in Washington D.C. I paid my respects to the fallen listed on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Sure enough, I found Sanford Kim Archer’s name on the wall.  I think he was Lance Corporal when he died.

Most recently, I found a tribute to fallen soldiers in Vietnam, and it listed Kim’s unit and a few details about his death.  He was badly wounded in an enemy mortar attack.

Now I want to find out more about him to tell his story.

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