The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, PFC Robert Henry Lerner, who died in the service of his country on August 31st, 1966 in Pleiku Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Multi-Frag. At the time of his death Robert was 24 years of age. He was from Ijamsville, Maryland. Robert is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 10E, Line 58.
The decorations earned by PFC Robert Henry Lerner include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Bronze Star with V, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
FREDERICK NEWS-POST September 03, 1966
IJAMSVILLE SOLIDER DIES IN ACTION IN VIET NAM
A 24-year old Ijamsville man who once threatened to go AWOL from the Army if he weren't sent to Viet Nam, was killed in action Wednesday, the Pentagon announced last night. Pfc Robert Henry Lerner, son of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Lerner, died of shrapnel wounds in an engagement as a rifleman with the 25th Infantry Division in South Viet Nam. He is the sixth Frederick County resident to die in the Asian Conflict. His mother, Mrs. Lerner, said last night he had joined the Army 16 months ago after serving four years in the Marine Corps so that he could enter the Viet Nam war. Stationed in Germany despite his enlistment request for Viet Nam duty, Mrs. Lerner said her son wrote home once he would desert unless he was sent to the war zone. "He got his wish," she said sadly last night. "I don't know why he ever went back. I just don't know. I begged him not to go away. We all did but he went back," she said. She said his letters gave little detail about the war except that once he wrote that he was " "very happy that I had my Marine training first." He also said he "would never make a career of the Army." Once he said he was doing a lot of night fighting on patrols. Asked her son's reasons for wanting combat duty, Mrs. Lerner said "I guess it was patriotism." The soldier was discharged as a sergeant from the Marines and served in Algeria. In Germany, he sought combat duty, until finally transferred. He attended Frederick High School later transferred to the Randolph Macon Military Academy at Front Royal, Va, where he was graduated in 1960. He then entered the Marines. After his four-year Marine hitch, he spent a year at home before enlisting in the Army. His father, was a medical officer in the Army during World War II. His mother said he wrote once that the Viet Nam people he had met were "very friendly and very nice." In line with Defense Department policy, Dr. and Mrs. Lerner were personally informed of their son's death by a chaplain and an officer from Fort Detrick. He had served in Viet Nam, five months and planned to attend college, upon discharge from the service, according to his father. The Lerner family, originally from Philadelphia, moved to Ijamsville in 1952. Funeral services will be arranged at a later date in Philadelphia with burial there. He leaves his parents, a sister, Miss Sandra Lerner, who is working in Philadelphia; a brother, William Lerner, Columbus, Ohio; and his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Wilzirck, of Sarasota, Fla. Others dying in the Asian war from Frederick County were Robert E. Smith of Frederick; Ronald M. Kenny of Mount Airy; James Moore Jr. of Frederick; Daniel S. Brittain of Frederick; and Richard Meehan of Woodsboro.
FREDERICK NEWS-POST September 10, 1966
RITES FOR VIET VICTIM IN PHILADELPHIA SUNDAY
Funeral services for Pfc. Robert Henry Lerner, 25, killed in Viet Nam last week, will be held Sunday in Philadelphia. Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Lerner, of Ijamsville, the soldier's parents, are traveling to Philadelphia for the funeral which will be held at Goldstein's Funeral Home on North Board Street at 10:30 a.m. Burial will be in Montefiore Cemetery in Philadelphia.
FREDERICK NEWS-POST December 29, 1966
HONORED FOR HEROISM
Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Lerner of Ijamsville were given the U.S. Army Bronze Star for heroism of their son Robert who died in Viet Nam on August 31. According to the citation accompanying the Bronze Star Medal, Private Lerner "discovered an enemy soldier in a well-concealed bunker, He immediately opened fire on the enemy causing them to prematurely trigger their ambush and dispelling their element of surprise. By discovering the carefully planned ambush Private Lerner prevented the remainder of the platoon from entering the killing zone." Private Lerner was also awarded the Purple Heart Posthumously in earlier ceremonies. Col. Peter G. Olenchuk, commanding officer of Fort Detrick, made both presentations.
(His BSV Citation)
General Orders 157, Award Of The Bronze Star For Heroism, 3rd Bde Task Force, 25th Division, 4 September 1966
For heroism in connection with military operations against a hostile force. Private First Class Lerner distinguished himself by heroic actions on 31 August 1966 while serving as a rifleman in the third platoon, B, 1/35th Infantry. While acting as point man for his platoon, Private First Class Lerner discovered an enemy solider in a well-concealed bunker. He immediately opened fire on the enemy causing them to prematurely trigger their ambush and dispelling their element of surprise. By discovering the carefully planned ambush, Private First Class Lerner prevented the remainder of the platoon from entering the killing zone. Private First Class Lerner lost his life during the firefight that ensued. This outstanding display of aggressiveness, devotion to duty, and personal bravery is in keeping with the highest military standards, and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.