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H. F. Gierke III
Born Herman Fredrick Gierke III
(1943-03-13)March 13, 1943
Williston, North Dakota
Died August 7, 2016(2016-08-07) (aged 73)
Bismarck, North Dakota
Place of burial North Dakota Veterans Cemetery, Mandan, North Dakota
Nationality American
Alma mater University of North Dakota (BA, JD)

H. F. Gierke III (born Herman Fredrick Gierke III; March 13, 1943 – August 7, 2016) was an American judge who served as the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces from 2004 to 2006. He was a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, from 1991 to 2004, and a Justice on the North Dakota Supreme Court from 1983 to 1991. Gierke also served as the National Commander of The American Legion, from 1988 to 1989.[1][2][3]

Early life and career

Gierke earned his bachelor of arts and juris doctor degrees from the University of North Dakota. From there, he went on to serve in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps between 1967 and 1971. This included one year as a military judge in Vietnam. During his active military service, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Vietnam service and campaign medals. In 1983, Governor Allen Olson appointed him Justice on the North Dakota Supreme Court.[1]

He was elected in 1984 and re-elected in 1986 for a 10-year term. In 1991, he resigned from the North Dakota Supreme court when President George H. W. Bush appointed him to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. On October 1, 2004, he assumed duties of chief judge on the court of appeals. He later moved to Orlando, Florida, where he was a visiting professor, distinguished jurist, and adjunct instructor at the Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law (1998-2008).[1]

The American Legion

A member of Carl E. Rogen Post No. 29 of The American Legion in Watford City, North Dakota, his slogan as national commander was "Proud to be an American." Prior to his election as national commander at the Legion's 70th National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, he served as commander of Post No. 29 (at age 36), as Department of North Dakota commander from 1983-1984, and as national vice commander from 1985-1986. During his tenure as national commander, Gierke was called upon to lead the initial challenges to the Supreme Court's Texas v. Johnson decision, which extended free speech rights to desecration of the U.S. flag.[3]


Gierke died on August 7, 2016, at the age of 73, in Bismarck, North Dakota.[3]


Gierke served as President of the North Dakota Blue Star Bar Association (1982-1983) and was an award winning professor at the George Washington University Law School and The Catholic University of America. In 2002 and 2004, he was honored as the Best Adjunct Faculty Member at CUA's Columbus School of Law.[4][5]

See also

  • List of North Dakota Supreme Court Justices
  • List of people from North Dakota
  • List of University of North Dakota people


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Herman Fredrick "Sparky" Gierke III, Justice of the Supreme Court, 1983-1991". 
  2. "Legion Picks Commander". Louisville, KY: Los Angeles Times. 9 September 1988. p. 16. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Stoffer, Jeff, ed (October 2016). "Gierke was first Vietnam War national commander". Indianapolis, IN. p. 64. ISSN 0886-1234. 
  4. Johnson, Peter. "UND To Award Two Honorary Degrees (One Posthumously) To Williston Natives At Spring Commencement Ceremonies May 14". UND News, 5 May 2005.
  5. "Students Pronounce the Sentence: He's Great! ". 'The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.'

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