Robert Primeaux had grown up on a Lakota Reservation as a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation of Fort Yales, North Dakota. At 17, he joined the Army in 1968, hoping to travel and see the outside world. He attended basic training at Fort Lewis, Washington, and further training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was then assigned to D Troop, 2/17 Cavalry of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He saw combat in Vietnam from 1969-1970.
Primeaux had hoped to continue his service, but after the death of his younger brother due to a car accident, he returned to the U.S. However, not long after returning home, on his way to work while stationed at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Primeaux himself was in a car accident, where his two colleagues in the car were killed along with the other driver. Primeaux survived, but spent the next three weeks in a coma with brain injuries and spent his last five months of service in an Army hospital. He recovered and was discharged from the Army in August 1971.
As the sole male survivor in his family, Primeaux went back home to his grandmother’s ranch in North Dakota. Here, he rehabilitated himself working with and caring for the almost 80 horses on the ranch. While regaining strength, connections and trust, he developed skills in rodeo riding and eventually attended college on a rodeo scholarship through the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA).
Through his education, Primeaux was able to meet Michael Apted, director of the movie “Thunderheart,” who hired Primeaux as a stunt actor. This job became a gateway opportunity into Hollywood, and Primeaux moved there. He was soon cast in television shows such as “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and the role “Indian Bob” in the TNT mini-series “Rough Riders.” He has appeared in 14 other films and has written two western novels, titled “Will Chase: The Sioux Lands” along with the soon to be released “Will Chase: The Black Hills.”
Primeaux holds two Ph.D degrees and has continued writing and studying while also advocating for fallen service members. He often shares the Four Lakota Cardinal Virtues to encourage other Veterans struggling with PTSD.
For his service, Primeaux was awarded a Bronze Star, a Combat Infantry Badge, an Air Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, a Vietnam Campaign Medal with three Bronze Service Stars, a Vietnam Service Medal and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
We honor his service.
Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with as much information as you can put together, along with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Writer: Sarah McDonald
Editors: Marisa Bunton, Ashley Shaut
Researcher: Gabriella Begley
Graphic Designer: Kiki KelleyRecommend0 recommendationsPublished in