Eldon Nygaard was born April 17, 1946 to Martin and Lavonne Nygaard. This event took place in the four bed hospital which was located on Main Street, in a two story home in Viborg, and grew up on a farm nearby.
While a sophomore at SDSU in the 1960s Eldon decided he did not want to be confused with the term "draft dodger" so he chose to enlist in March of 1965 in Sioux Falls, in the United States Army. He entered active duty in March of 1966 and on April 3, 1967 Eldon graduated from flight school at Fort Rucker, AL as an Army Aviator and was commissioned as a Warrant Officer. In September of 1967, while assigned to the 57th Avn. Company at Fort Riley, KS, WO Nygaard's unit was dispatched to Detroit Michigan. As a result Eldon flew a Huey Gunship over the city during what was known as the "Detroit Riots."
Later in September of 1967 Nygaard arrived in the Republic of Vietnam at the age of 22. His assignments there were initially with the 101st Airborne Division and later with the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment. During his tour of duty in Vietnam he served as: a Huey helicopter "slick" pilot (shot down once), a "scout" pilot in a OH-23 Hiller (shot down twice), a "gun ship" pilot in a UH-CM (shot down once) and as a maintenance officer and test pilot for the 3rd Squadron 11th ACR. Chief Warrant Officer Nygaard's active duty assignments included: Ft. Polk, LA, Ft. Wolters, TX, Ft. Rucker, AL, and Ft. Riley, KA.
After active duty, Chief Warrant Officer Nygaard served in the Army National Guards of: Nebraska, Wisconsin, Nevada, and Arizona. In addition, he served in the Army Reserves in Wisconsin, California and South Dakota.
Eldon Nygaard retired as a CW-4 in 2006.
His awards and decorations include: Two awards of the Distinguish Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, 11 awards of the Air Medal (1 award with "v" device for valor), three awards of the Army Commendation Medal including one award with the "v" device for valor, Army Achievement Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Army National Guard Achievement Medal, National Defense Medal with Bronze Star device, Republic of Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars devices, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Bronze Star.
His unit citations include: The Presidential Unit Citation, Army Valorous Unit Citation, Army Meritorious Unit Citation, and the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation.
In 1995, CW-4 Nygaard was inducted into the South Dakota Combat Aviation Hall of Fame now located at Ellsworth AFB, Rapid City, South Dakota.