Hoeven Honors Service of Two North Dakota Veterans

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today honored the service of two North Dakota veterans at military medal presentation ceremonies in Carrington and Jamestown. Hoeven presented a Purple Heart for Vietnam veteran James Laurie in Carrington. In Jamestown, the senator presented the third-highest military decoration, the Silver Star, posthumously to the family of Reinholdt Hofmann, who was killed in action during World War II.

“These military medals are some of the highest honors that our nation bestows on our military members,” said Hoeven. “Our state has a proud history of military service. These medals serve as a token of our gratitude for the service and sacrifices that our veterans have made on our behalf.”

Reinholdt Hofman of Medina, ND

Reinholdt T. Hofmann served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was born to Peter and Lydia Hofmann, who emigrated from Russia in 1911 and homesteaded in Medina. Reinholdt had 10 siblings and grew up and went to school in Medina. He enjoyed hunting and fishing when all the chores were done. Reinholdt entered the service on September 22, 1944, at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.

PFC Hofmann was assigned to the 6th Division, 63rd Infantry Regiment, which holds the unchallenged record of 219 consecutive days of continuous combat in the Pacific Theater. In January of 1945, Reinholdt and the 63rd Infantry invaded the Philippines, in a battle commonly referred to as S-Day. They participated in the attack on Mount Mataba and Mount Pacawagan and their division was assigned to take the last stronghold of General Yamashita in an area of deep ravines and thick jungle.

On January 16, 1945, near the Philippine Island of Payatan Luzon, PFC rifleman Reinholdt Hofmann crossed open terrain riddled with enemy machinegun and sniper fire to reach a wounded comrade. In the process of returning the wounded soldier, Reinholdt was killed by sniper fire. He is buried in Plot A, Row 4, Grave 120 of the Manila America Cemetery in the Philippines.

Senator Hoeven presented Reinholdt’s Silver Star to his nephew, Tony Hofmann. The medal will reside in the Medina VFW.

“Reinholdt Hofmann is buried far from his home in North Dakota, but he is in the company of the men he fought with and the men that died fighting for each other and a country they cherished,” said Hoeven. “We hope that this Silver Star, which will be displayed at the Medina VFW will serve as a tribute to a true American hero, Reinholdt Hofmann, and remind us all of the sacrifices of our nation’s greatest generation.”

James Laurie of Bowden

James T. Laurie served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. James was born in New York City and grew up in Staten Island, NY with his five siblings. He enlisted in the Army on January 20, 1966, and served in Vietnam from September 1966 to September 1967.

Hoeven’s office worked to secure a Purple Heart for Laurie, who was injured while on patrol in Bin Din Province on August 26, 1967. Sgt. Laurie spotted an enemy soldier entering a tunnel. He put a perimeter around the hill, dug a hole in the opposite side of the hill and threw in numerous grenades. Sgt. Laurie and fellow soldier, Spc. John F. Carey, went into the tunnel, shot an enemy and exited. There were additional enemy soldiers in the tunnel, so Carey and Laurie went back into the tunnel. An explosion occurred that fatally wounded Carey and blew Laurie out of the tunnel. Laurie had shrapnel removed from his neck, but would stay in the field until the next day, when he was medevacked out.

Laurie was honorably discharged on January 19, 1969. He married Marie in 1971, and together they have three children, Veronica, Vicki and Patrick. James and Marie reside in Bowden. He worked as housepainter and enjoys hunting, fishing and the peace and quiet of North Dakota.

The Army denied the first request to award Purple Heart to Sgt. Laurie for the injuries he received in combat. Senator Hoeven’s office was able to obtain additional records of the incident in the Bin Din Province and submitted a second request, which was granted.

“We are grateful that the Army has recognized the enormous sacrifices that Sgt. Laurie made in combat and awarded him with the Purple Heart,” said Hoeven. “His service is an example to all of us and it is an honor to present this Purple Heart in recognition of Sgt. James Laurie’s faithful and dedicated service to our Nation.”

Laurie earned following medals during his service:

• Purple Heart
• Air Medal
• National Defense Medal
• Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
• Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device 1960
• Combat Infantry Badge (1st Award)
• 2 O/S Bars
• Bronze Star Medal
• Sharpshooter (M16) Badge
• Expert (M14 & M60) Badge