Wayne Freeland spent most of his life in Lead, South Dakota, married to his beloved wife Dorothy. Wayne didn’t grow up in South Dakota though, he graduated from Palmer High School in his home town of Palmer, Nebraska. His parents, Frank and Jessie Freeland, had four children including Wayne. After Wayne graduated with the Palmer Class of 1948, he enlisted in the army to serve in the Korean Conflict.
The Korean Conflict lasted from June of 1950 to July of 1953. In 1950, the Soviet Union assisted North Korea with the invasion of South Korea. At that point the United States and United Nations joined the conflict against North Korea while China joined the fight with the Soviet Union and North Korea. Wayne Freeland was one of many brave soldiers who fought in the war, and one of the fortunate who returned home unharmed. The Korean Conflict was not about a border dispute, but rather about the larger ideals of containment, or stopping the spread of communism. The Korean Conflict is also known as the Forgotten War because the battles, veterans, and their stories often get lost amongst World War II and Vietnam. However, Wayne Freeland is one veteran whose story can be told to remind future generations of the sacrifices made for this country.
In the mid 1950’s, after Wayne was honorably discharged from his position of Sergeant First Class in the army, he moved to Lead, South Dakota, where he worked for Homestake Gold Mine. Homestake was founded in the former Dakota Territory in present day Lead in 1877 by a group of miners from California. The original ten acres purchased grew rapidly over the next century to more than 8,000 acres. Wayne began working at Homestake around the time they expanded their operations from solely gold mining to uranium, lead, and zinc. Wayne left the mine before it began to undergo significant changes throughout the next several decades, such as when it introduced physics experiments, fossil fuels, and stock in the New York Stock Exchange.
Wayne married Dorthy in 1959 in Lead, South Dakota. Although Dorthy had been married before she didn’t have any children from her first marriage to Perry Dachtler. Dorthy blessed Wayne with five children, all boys. Wayne worked for the US Postal Service as a mail carrier until his retirement. After retiring from the post office, Wayne could be found driving the trolley in Deadwood or working security at Wharf Mining Company. He was also involved with the Boy Scout and Cub Scout programs in Lead and he enjoyed wood working, cabinetry, hunting and taxidermy. Wayne enjoyed fishing at Deerfield lake with his family and raising rabbits. His grandkids fondly remember their grandpa’s “’bunnies’”.
Dorothy passed away in 2002 on October 27th, over a decade before Wayne, and she was buried in Black Hills National Cemetery. Wayne passed away at Rapid City Regional Hospital on September 18th, 2016. His funeral services were held at Trinity Methodist Church, where Wayne frequently visited during his time in Lead, and at Black Hills National Cemetery, where he was interred with military honors. His son, Dave Freeland, remembers the shivers that ran down everyone’s back as the taps were played and he was handed the folded flag. Wayne and Dorothy were ultimately laid to rest together in the beautiful Black Hills National Cemetery in section O site 555. While our country can remember Wayne as one of the brave men who risked everything for our nation’s values, Wayne’s family remembers him on his boat in Deerfield Lake, or out on the hunt.