William E. Read

No. 17385  •  15 May 1927 - 4 Mar 2009

Died in Charlotte, NC
Interred at Forest Hill Cemetery in the Read plot in Morganton, NC

A journey that began on 15 May 1927 at the old St. Joseph’s Hospital in Charlotte, NC, ended at Carolina’s Medical Center, also in Charlotte, on 4 Mar 2009.

William Edgar “Bill” Read was the son of the late Edgar Read and Virginia Clark Read. He graduated from Morganton High School in 1944, where he lettered in three sports—football, basketball and base­ball. Bill enlisted in the Army the day after graduation; his mother had to sign for him because of his age. In 1946, he received an appointment to both the Naval Academy and West Point. He chose West Point. He received an appointment from Senator Sam Ervin, also of Morganton. He graduated from West Point in 1950 with a bachelor of science degree, and in later years he re­ceived a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois and a busi­ness administration degree from Webster College in St. Louis, MO. He continued his education with the advanced management program at Harvard, Command & General Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, KS, and the Army War College at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania.

Shortly after graduation from West Point, the Korean War began, and 2LT Read received orders for the Far East. In 1952 he was stationed at Ft. Belvoir, VA. It was later that year that he met a young lady, Mary Ann Gregory of Miami, FL. It would be the beginning of a wonderful lifetime relationship. For their first date, Bill invited Mary Ann to the annual Army-Navy game. Navy won 7-0, but this did not dismay ei­ther of them. By the second date, Mary Ann knew and told her roommate that she had met the man she would marry. Later that year, on Halloween, Bill proposed to Mary Ann and three weeks later, after the Army-Navy game, they were married in Alexandria, VA. And by the way, this time Army beat Navy 7-0!

During his career, MG Read served in the Korean War and had three commands in the Vietnam War. Following his war service, he served as the assistant military attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel; was the district engineer in Tulsa, OK; was the assistant chief of engineers in Washington, DC; and was president of the Mississippi River Commission in Vicksburg, MS. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Bronze Star with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star and the Air Medal.

Bill also served as the staff officer in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Operations and with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, DC, and was the deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Aviation Systems Command in St. Louis. During his 35 years of active duty, MG Read was stationed in nine different states and had four different overseas assign­ments, along with his wife of 55 years, Mary Ann, and their three daughters. His last duty assignment in the military was a Presidential appointment, with Congressional approval, as division engineer of the Lower Mississippi Valley division and president of the Lower Mississippi Valley Flood Control Association.

Upon his retirement from the Army, Bill and Mary Ann moved to Gulfport, MS, where he worked for Walk, Haydel and Associates out of New Orleans. In 2002, he retired again and moved to Morganton. Bill and Mary Ann had shared so many countless memories, and in Morganton they found their perfect place, which became their perfect memory. Like Ilsa and Rick, “They would always have Paris.’’ These words were the last spoken from Bill to his beloved Mary Ann.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Ann Gregory Read, of Morganton, NC; daugh­ters and their husbands: Mary Virginia “Ginger” and Gerard Thomas Hopkins of New Windsor, NY; Ann Kirby and Andrew H. Weber of Pipersville, PA; and Sarah Correll “Sallie” and Hunter Fordice, of Vicksburg, MS; grandsons; Gerard Thomas Hopkins, Jr. and his wife Dolores; William Read Hopkins; Stephen Michael Hopkins; Andrew Joseph Weber; Robert Read Weber and his wife Danielle; granddaughters: Hilary Ann Weber, Georgina Roxanne Weber, Lauren Virginia Fordice, Emily Louise Fordice, Helen Frances Fordice, and Sarah Hunter Fordice.

A donation was made in Dad’s name to the Academy. The funds purchased a perma­nent plaque, planned to be located in Thayer Hall, recognizing each semester’s Academy Pentathletes. An Academy Pentathlete is a cadet who has earned a 4.0 or higher (with no grade lower that an A-) in the prior se­mester. The grade requirements apply to all programs—academic, physical education, and military science courses, as well as the military development grade. The donation also includes a small endowment which will pay for the nameplates to update the plaque each semester. Our father was a brilliant man who excelled in the academic world, but always appreciated the values learned through participation in the military and physical programs as well.

Edward J. Gradoville

NO. 17524  •  8 Sep 1927 – 13 Nov 2007

Died in Kerrville, TX
Interred in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, Plattsmouth, NE

Edward John Gradoville was born 8 Sep 1927 in Plattsmouth, NE, the first child of Edward Hubert Gradoville and Louise Frances (Kalasek) Gradoville. Ed loved sports of all varieties and managed to bal­ance physical activities with a love of learn­ing. He attended St. John’s Parochial School in Plattsmouth from 1932 until 1940 and graduated as Valedictorian of his class.

Ed attended Plattsmouth High School from 1940 to 1944, lettering in baseball, football, track, and basketball and was cap­tain of his undefeated Blue Devils Football team in 1943. In addition, Ed was very active in Chorus and Glee Club and participated in the Drama Club, including one-act plays, debates and the lead in his Senior Class play, “Magnificent Obsession.” He graduated Valedictorian of his high school in 1944 at the age of 16.

Ed then attended the University of Nebraska, School of Engineering, and was in the top three percent of his first-year group, earning an academic scholarship. Ed lettered in football at the University of Nebraska in 1944 and 1945. He received a Congressional Appointment to the United States Naval Academy, and entered with the Class of 1949 on 1 Jul 1945. An eye problem resulted in his departure, and Ed entered West Point 15 Jul 1946. He played football for Army as a walk- on from 1946 to 1948 and also participated in the Cadet Glee Club. Ed graduated on 2 Jun 1950 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Coastal Artillery Corps.

Ed was assigned to the 60th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (AAA) located at Ft. Ord, CA, from June 1950 until 4 Jul 1954. He had some funny stories about the cross-country journey, first from West Point to Nebraska and then from Nebraska to Ft. Ord. The 60th Battalion was transferred from Sixth Army Continental United States to be among the first NATO units in Europe from February 1951 until July 1954. This was quite a fateful twist for Ed, as he met and married his first wife, Jean Gladwin, in Kettering, England.

In July 1954, Ed returned from the NATO assignment to Ft. Sill, Oklahoma to attend the Field Artillery Transition Officer Course. Ed had been requested by the U.S. Military Academy’s Physics and Chemistry Departments to serve as an instructor from 1951 to1954, but Artillery Branch refused to release Ed. In 1955, Ed transferred from Artillery to Quartermaster Corps, QMC, and attended the Quartermaster Officer Advanced Course at Ft. Lee, VA. He also welcomed his first child, Stephen Paul, into the life of an Army brat.

From August 1956 to July 1958, Ed was assigned to the Georgia Institute of Technology, working on advanced math­ematics. From July 1958 to September 1959, Ed went to Korea, while Jean and little Stephen took the Queen Mary to England and spent time with her family.

In September 1959, the young fam­ily was reunited in Washington, DC, while Ed worked in the operational mathemat­ics office, applying his Georgia Tech learn­ing. Their family grew with the addition of daughter Judith Anne in September 1960. In 1962, Ed and family transferred to Ft. Leavenworth, KS, where Ed worked at the Command & General Staff College. It was a bittersweet time, reunited and close to his parents in Nebraska, but his mother passed away suddenly, just prior to the birth of their third child, Gretchen Jane, in July 1962.

In June 1963, Ed and the family moved to England, stationed at Aldershot Southern Command as part of a NATO Exchange. Ed reacquainted himself with his love of golf and cribbage, while his young children were able to learn firsthand of their British heritage. In July 1965, Ed and family re­turned to Washington, and Ed was stationed at Maryland University, working with the Institute for Defense Analysis.

From October 1966 until April 1968, Ed was stationed in Viet Nam, and had to be content with cards, photos and audiotape recordings (do you remember those ancient reel-to-reel tapes?!) from his growing family. He returned to various assignments at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, from May 1968 until May 1971. And then he took his family on a grand adventure.

From May 1971 until July 1974, Ed and family were stationed in Asuncion, Paraguay, while Ed was part of the U.S. Military Group advising the Paraguayan Army. The whole family became fluent in Spanish, the children more so than their parents, of course, and enjoyed exploring and traveling to Argentina, Uruguay, Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, and Peru.

Ed’s last assignment, from July 1974 until 31 Jan 1978, was as part of the U.S. Army Readiness Region VIII, Denver, CO, out of Ft. Riley, KS. In February 1978, Ed retired to Texas after 33 years and 10 months of military service.

The last 20 years of his military career, Ed served concurrently in the logistics program, as well as operations research systems analysis (LOG-ORSA), specialty staff assignments.

Ed was happily married for 16 years to his wife, Marie Gradoville, and is survived by his wife, his three children, one stepson, six grandchildren and two step-grandchildren. Ed enjoyed his retirement with Marie, trav­eling, golfing, playing bridge and each fall returning to the thrill of Nebraska football with his season tickets.

Up to the end, Ed continued his service, but this time to fellow Veterans. He faithfully volunteered at the Kerrville Veterans Medical Center twice a week, either in the library or in administration, and earned awards for his hours of volunteerism. It seemed, even in retirement, he couldn’t completely give up service to country and the pleasure of the company of his fellow servicemen from the Armed Forces. He is very much missed.

—Judith A. Lakes

Frank E. Gaillard

NO. 17992  •  9 May 1927 – 15 Oct 2007

Died in Auburn, CA
Cremated. Interred in the West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY

Frank E. Gaillard was born 9 May 1927 to COL Fred E. Gaillard and Kathryn Hall-Gaillard in Wichita, KS, at the hospital at the University of Kansas, where his father was the professor for military science and tactics. Frank traveled often during his younger years as his father was stationed at Ft. Monmouth, NJ, Ft. Benning, GA, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, the Philippines, Ft. McClellan, AL, and Camp Croft, SC. Frank treasured summers with his Aunt Amelia in a family home in Sewanee, TN. Franks father was a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and served through World War II.

Frank attended high school at the Sewanee Military Academy, graduating in 1945. He entered the Marines and then went on to the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory unit at Amherst College. Frank was preceded at West Point by his great-cousin, David DuBose Gaillard, Class of 1884. Gaillard was respon­sible for the monumental engineering feat which led to the opening of the “path between the seas” in the Panama Canal through the “Gaillard Cut” in 1914.

A love of music was ingrained early in Frank, with his mother being a life-long musi­cian and piano teacher, and his father an avid opera listener. Frank picked up a trombone at age 11 and never put it down, except to play piano or guitar! Frank won national awards for his band performances from age 12 and continued to arrange, direct and play music throughout his life. (We had many a jam ses­sion in our living room!)

Of particular note, Frank earned the cherished position as interim director of the West Point Glee Club in 1950—the first cadet to earn such an honor. He arranged songs in four-part harmony for an entire al­bum, and convinced the West Point admin­istration and Columbia Records to let the cadets travel down to New York City for a recording session. The album was a great suc­cess and is still listened to today. Frank once again directed his fellow officers in “Army Blue,” “the Alma Mater,” and “The Corps” during the 1990 trip to Seoul, Korea, at the 40-year ceremonial honoring of American veterans by the Korean government.

In the 1950 Howitzer, his classmates de­scribed him as follows: We had to find a new word to define this blithe spirit, this eternal opti­mist whose carefree attitude brought him through the maze without a scratch. So Gaillard has be­come a new word in our vocabulary describing the ultimate in ‘good Joes’. He’ll be remembered as that pylon shaped wonder boy behind that trombone in ork by those who never met our most unforgettable character. He was also known as “Shortie”, “High Pockets” and “Stretch,” as Frank had an arm reach that was a major asset to the West Point Lacrosse team.

Upon graduation, Frank spent one year with the Signal company of the 11 th Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY, as a 1st lieutenant senior parachutist. (Oh, those cherished jump stories!)

In December of 1951, he spent 11 months in Korea as a radio and VHF-wire officer with the 40th Infantry Division. He extended seven months with the 224th Infantry Regiment, defending the “Punch Bowl,” and earned the Bronze Star Medal, Commendation Ribbon, and Combat Infantryman Badge. He returned to Signal School in September 1953 and was promoted to captain. Frank participated in an electronic warfare planning group and went into the reserves as a captain. His primary job in the Army Reserve was instructing Command & General Staff College courses. He retired as a reserve full colonel after 20 years.

Frank met and later married his “little Irish doll,” Joanie Hourigan, in October 1957, in Dallas, TX, (during the only fall weekend that did not have an Army football game scheduled!) They have two daughters, Erin and Christy. Erin and her husband, Michael Kielty, have two daughters, Allison and Kelley. Christy and her husband, James Barrese, have three daughters, Anya, Elizabeth, and Kathryn. (All girls for Frank!) They all live in California. Frank and Joanie enjoyed traveling around the world, playing tennis and hosting many a jazz music gathering. They enjoyed 50 years of happy marriage, retiring in a beauti­ful, peaceful home on the shore of Lake of the Pines in Auburn, CA.

Frank's civilian career included industrial program management, manufacturing engi­neering and electromechanical design with high-tech companies from Dallas (Texas Instruments and Geotech) to Silicon Valley (California Microwave, FMC, and Sylvania). Many fond memories of “engineering student antics” at West Point were shared with friends and family! Frank enjoyed recruiting for West Point and was a model officer while representing the academy and screening potential cadets in the San Francisco Bay Area. (He loved having an excuse to attend high school football games!) His true pas­sion, however, was in coaching tennis. For 20 years he inspired and enlightened stu­dents from ages three to 75. He proudly achieved the rank of USTA Pro Level four at age 75 and contin­ued to teach tennis until a week before his passing at age 80.

Frank passed away peacefully at “the lake,” with his cherished wife and faithful dog by his side, on 15 Oct 2007. It is felt that there could be no greater honor for Frank than to have West Point as his final resting place. A dedicated officer and family man, Franks val­ues of duty, honor and integrity permeated his life’s work

—His family and classmates, Roy Easley and James Tormey

Frank H. Duggins, Jr.

NO. 17831  •  7 Dec 1928 – 23 Jun 2006

Died in Marshall, MO
Inurned in Ridge Park Cemetery, Marshall, MO

Frank Hall Duggins, Jr., was born in Marshall, MO, just across the street from the home where his father was born, on land his great-grandfather purchased in the mid-1800s when he came from Virginia to Missouri as a surveyor. After his retirement from the U.S. Army in 1978, Frank eventually returned to the family home with his own family and his great-grandfather’s surveying instruments. Frank’s daughters were born in the same county in Virginia that his great-grandfather had lived in before moving West.

Frank’s first exposure to the military came when he attended Kemper Military School in Boonville, MO. While there, he befriended two future West Point classmates, Don Langren and David Meredith. They maintained these friendships throughout their lives. Frank graduated from Kemper in 1945 and kept close ties to the school, serv­ing on the faculty, 1957—60; as President 1982—83; and as a prominent member of the Board of Directors.

Frank was attending the University of Missouri in the Engineering program when his father presented him the opportunity of an appointment to West Point. He recalled “never really wanting to be in the Army...and riding on the banks of the Hudson River wearing a wool uniform on hot, humid days was not really much fun.” As was his nature, he made things work and was an active cadet. He was on the staff of the cadet magazine, The Pointer, all four years, serving as the as­sociate editor his first class year. He also was sports editor of the Mortar and a member of the Weightlifting and Radio Clubs. His jour­nalism experience served him well, and he continued honing his writing skills through­out his life, from well-written speeches to wit­ty letters and emails. He enjoyed telling his daughters of some of his antics and was proud to show them West Point at his 55th Reunion in 2005! He was amused at the thought that his grandsons and granddaughters might even continue the tradition.

His first assignment after graduation was to Korea, serving in the 5th Cavalry Regiment. During his tour in Korea, he was awarded a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman Badge. Frank and Margaret later traveled to Korea with classmates in 1997. When he returned from Korea in 1952, he accepted an assignment at Ft. Carson, CO, as aide-de-camp to GEN George Kaiser. He also ran the Officer’s Club and often shared many fond memories from this assignment with friends and family. GEN Kaiser persuad­ed Frank to continue his career in the Army, instilling in the young leader that he, indeed, could make a difference.

In 1964, while on leave over a long Memorial Day weekend, Frank visited his fa­ther and his brother David in New Orleans. David introduced Frank to his friend, “a charming southern belle,” Margaret Robbins of Mobile, AL. They were married 4 Sep 1964 at the Cadet Chapel, followed by a yacht ex­cursion on the Hudson River where, report­edly, “the champagne flowed freely.”

In 1965, Frank was assigned to the Military Assistance Command, Viet Nam (MACV). As a newly promoted lieutenant colonel, Frank served as the Senior Sector Advisor as­signed to Advisory Team #57. As an American counterpart to the Vietnamese province chief of Vinh Binh Province in the Mekong Delta Region, LTC Duggins was recognized as an excellent military strategist. He provided ex­cellent leadership, and Advisory Team 57 was recognized for successfully carrying out many of the pacification efforts that were a part of the MACV mission.

Following his first tour in Viet Nam, Frank was appointed Commandant of the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School in 1966. He and Margaret moved from Ft. Benning, GA, to Ft. Belvoir, VA, where their daughter Kathleen was born in 1967. Kathleen was christened at the Cadet Chapel. Their daughter Molly was born in 1970, also at Ft. Belvoir.

Frank then was assigned to a second tour of Viet Nam in 1971. One of his privates, Jim Bussell, recalls that they were “the last troops to be airlifted out of Viet Nam.” Once the troops were evacuated, he returned home and accepted an assignment reorganizing National Guard units through offices in St. Louis, MO.

He retired from full service in the military as a colonel in 1978 and returned home to Marshall with his family. His next “assign­ment” was the restoration of the family home and the full-time parenting, tutoring and men­toring of his daughters. He became an active member of his community, serving as mayor of Marshall from 1979 to 1980, and was a member of Rotary for over 30 years, serving as President from 1989 to 1999. He remained an integral member on the Board of Directors of Kemper Military School and was active in the Saline County Historical Society, the Red Cross, the Sheltered Workshop, the United Methodist Church, the Board of Directors of Marshall Municipal Utilities and the United Way and in the development of the Nicholas-Beazley Aviation Museum.

As noted in the 1950 Howitzer, his “fame of quick wit and happy countenance” served him well throughout a lifetime of leadership. He led by example and was driven continu­ously to further his knowledge on any and all topics, from the Missouri Mules to local and federal government. In September 2003, shortly after their 39th wedding anniversary, Margaret passed away after battling cancer. He is greatly missed by his family: his daughters Kathleen Smith (Bryan) and Molly Crews (Tom); his brother David Duggins and wife Bitsy; and four grandchildren, Zachary and Grant Smith and Margaret and Katie Crews.

We take comfort in knowing our father, “this old foot soldier” as he referred to himself, was admired by and a mentor to many and always will be fondly remembered as a great story teller.

— Respectfully submitted by his daughters, Kathleen and Molly, with special thanks and much appreciation to Carol Raynor and her notes!

 

Richard N. Cody

NO. 17563  •   1929 – 29 April 2007

Died in Annandale, VA
Interred in Old Mission Mausoleum, Wichita, KS

"Why, you’re a sunflower from the Sunflower State!" exclaimed Frank Thompson when Richard Neal ‘Dick’ Cody arrived at West Point from Kansas in 1946. Little did Frank realize how apt that descriptor was for the personable and easygoing Dick Cody. His good nature and warmth characterized Dick’s friendships at West Point, during his Air Force career and are what his family misses most about him.

Dick was the first child of Ione and Ralph Cody born in Hutchinson, KS. Dick was joined by siblings Rosemary and Jim. The children loved visiting grandparents in Clearwater, KS, where they enjoyed riding through the wheat fields on the tractor.

Attending West Point was Dick’s boyhood dream. The rigors of the Academy did not dampen nor overwhelm him. Despite Dick’s service as Chairman of the Escort Committee, he remained loyal to fellow Wichita East graduate and sweetheart, Marilyn Barnum.

Upon graduation in 1950, Dick was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force and began flight training. He and Marilyn were married and moved to Lubbock, TX. Then Dick served a combat tour in Korea flying B-29s. Marilyn and baby, Diane, returned to Wichita to be with family.

Dick’s next assignment was the beginning of a long period of satisfying service in the Strategic Air Command. From 1952-57, Dick was assigned to the 68th Bombardment Wing in Lake Charles, LA, where, as a B-47 and B-29 pilot, he served as instructor and aircraft commander. His next job was serving as Director of Ops & Training at Barksdale AFB. Their family grew and now included Diane, Rick, David, and Lauren.

The family began a three-year adventure where Dick served as an Exchange Officer with the Royal Air Force attending Staff College at Bracknell then serving on the Operations staff at RAF Headquarters Bomber Command in High Wycombe. The years in England were filled with travel—each summer Dick and Marilyn loaded the four kids into a VW camper with a Coleman stove, six-man tent and they camped throughout Europe. They took in all the sights—museums, cathedrals, and amusement parks—in the right combination to keep the crew happy. Evenings were times to re-group around the campfire.

Leaving dear friends Dick and Marilyn made in England was not easy but a different kind of assignment was waiting for the family in Dallas, TX. They lived as civilians while Dick studied for a Master of Science in Engineering Management at Southern Methodist University. The southern hospitality encircled the family when Dick left for the Philippines where he was Chief of the Command Center of the 405th Fighter Wing at Clark Air Force Base. He "commuted" to Vietnam and flew 139 ground attack combat missions as a B-57 pilot in Southeast Asia. His family joined him in the Philippines expanding their travel to include Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong, and areas throughout the PI.

The Codys returned to the States and Dick was assigned to the Pentagon with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He valued the headquarters experience but was pleased to assume command positions at the 320th Bombardment Wing at Mather AFB in California. While Marilyn and the kids stayed there, Dick served on temporary duty at U-Tapao Airfield, Thailand, in 1972-73. He was the airborne commander for the SAC bomber forces leading two Linebacker II missions over North Vietnam in the "Eleven-Day War" of December 1972. Following his combat assignment, Dick was named Commander, 93rd Bombardment Wing at Castle AFB.

Before leaving California, Dick was promoted to brigadier general. In his characteristically straightforward way, Frank Thompson sent his congratulations and comment, "Dick, you were the last guy I thought would become a general—you’re just not serious enough!" Indeed, Dick was still the fun-loving, warm-hearted, jokester and that warmth, combined with his clear thinking, was what drew people to him and earned their respect in the command positions he held.

Dick was pulled into SAC headquarters at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, NB, where he was Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel and DCS for Plans where he was very involved in the development of the B-1 bomber. While at Offutt, he and Marilyn had great fun living down the street from classmate Dick and Ruthie Newton.

Dick added a second star and was transferred to the Defense Nuclear Agency in Washington, DC, as Deputy Director. Dick retired from the USAF but immediately launched his own consulting business where he helped federal and state governments and agencies prepare for nuclear accidents.

Dick and Marilyn enjoyed their now empty nest by becoming avid square dancers, cruise travelers and visiting children and grandchildren who settled from California to Boston. Another highlight was visiting West Point classmates and attending reunions.

In the late 1980s, Dick experienced symptoms of Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, a progressive disease that steadily robbed him of mobility and mental agility. With help Marilyn was able to care for him at home and became an expert at patient mobilization as they continued to visit their children in Texas, Boston, and Sacramento as well as gather the family at Navarre Beach, FL, for an annual reunion.

One of the hardest parts of Dick’s illness those last 20 years was his children realizing Dick’s 11 grandchildren never got to see him when he was well—strong, kind, funny, smart, and a dynamic leader devoted to his country and his family. A great gift came from classmate Dick Newton who assembled books for Dick’s grandchildren that shared stories, his official Air Force biography, and a personal letter describing who Dick Cody was as a patriot, a friend, and a classmate. Thanks to Colonel Newton’s gift, Dick Cody came alive to those who weren’t lucky enough to get to know him personally.

— Lauren Cody Murphy, daughter

John W. Best

NO. 17803  •   1929 – 21 November 2007

Died in Riverside, CA
Cremated. Interred in Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, CA

At a dinner with friends and his wife Nancy, John could be counted on for a humorous story followed by his own hearty chuckles. His sharp wit was just one aspect of a warm, generous, cheerful personality. His outlook on life, talents and achievements are all the more remarkable after a difficult childhood.

John Walton Best, Jr. was born in Detroit, MI, the son of John Walton and Marjorie Elaine Best. When John was born, his father was at the peak of his ca­reer as a swimming teacher to the wealthy and privileged members of the Country Club of Detroit. Two years later, the Great Depression made swimming lessons an extravagance. In 1931, his father moved the family to Hollywood, where he found prominent clients in the entertainment in­dustry. They traveled from California to Florida in search of favorable weather for teaching swimming in outdoor pools. John was used as a swimming demonstrator. It was a gypsy life, with his attending 13 dif­ferent schools.

In 1936 the family acquired a 16-foot travel trailer. It was home for John, his brother, sister and parents, moving from Beverly Hills in the summer to Palm Springs in the winter. In 1942, his parents bought a lot in Riverside for the trailer, and John built an attached sleeping room for his sister and another for his brother and himself. It was a dysfunctional household with a domineer­ing father, marginal income and incessant bickering making life uncomfortable and insecure. On occasion John was sent to fish off the Santa Monica pier to bring home dinner. At 14 he spent the summer caring for 12 horses at a riding stable. He slept out­side the barn, with kittens in his sleeping bag for warmth. His pay was a dozen pancakes for breakfast and other meals. Moving on to high school he commanded the ROTC unit, was on the rifle team, lettered three years in swimming and captained the swim team his senior year.

Although John had scholarship offers from local colleges, he saw West Point as an opportunity for a new life, an excellent education and financial independence. He entered West Point only a few months after his 17th birthday, making him one of the youngest in the class. At West Point he ex­celled in swimming, earning a letter for three years and setting a Plebe record for the 200- yard relay. Paul Ache, a Co I-2 classmate, re­calls, “sitting at a brace in Washington Hall” when the record breaking was announced, “by a team including John Best. Boy, was I impressed.” Ever the dutiful son, a trying family life notwithstanding, John sent home $20 a month from his cadet salary. In later years, he helped his brother financially.

After graduation, John selected the Air Force. He became a pilot for multi-engine aircraft accumulating 900 hours of fly­ing time. He flew five different aircraft, with most of his flying time in B29s and B36s. During the Korean War he flew 32 combat missions.

Of minor consequence was his plane crash during flight training. The instructor, apparently not pleased with John, idled one of the engines at a time when the plane was just accelerating after a touch and go. The plane landed in a cotton field just beyond the runway. No one was injured. John walked back to the airfield. At the gate he asked an MP where he should go to report a plane crash. Not even a plane crash could dampen his sense of humor. The fate of the instructor was an immediate transfer to Iceland.

After resigning from the Air Force in 1955, John moved back to Riverside. He was employed as an engineer for several compa­nies before striking out on his own in 1972. He served a variety of clients, including General Electric, with engineering services in civil and mechanical design. Ninety per­cent of his work was in structural analysis and design for buildings. His success as a one-man firm is a tribute to his engineering acumen and perseverance.

In 1956, John entered into a marriage that lasted for 25 years before ending in di­vorce. His life changed after he met Nancy Parsons and married her in 1983. She proved to be the perfect partner in what was a happy and fulfilling marriage. He had no biologi­cal children from either marriage. He was a stepfather to Victor and Chris, and a de facto father to Lisa, who became a family member.

John was a West Pointer through and through. He was active in the West Point Society in Riverside and generous with his time in support of West Point. For many years he was the Academy’s admis­sions representative for the Riverside, San Bernardino and beyond areas. Over the years he had been responsible for encourag­ing and shepherding some 200 high school graduates to West Point. Being invited to the Bicentennial Dinner marking the 200th anniversary of West Point was recognition for his service.

Topping off the abilities of this talented man was his acting in amateur theater. His most memorable role was the male lead in the play, “First Monday in October.” His performance was magnificent. His wit and stage presence were perfect for the role of a Supreme Court Judge. Actually, he was asked to replace a person in the lead role late in the rehearsals. Not a problem for John, he had the ability to memorize not only his own part but also all the parts of the other actors. What a memory! After 60 years he could recite the definition of leather.

John had the resoluteness and subtle drive to achieve which served him through­out his life. Those qualities were intrinsic to his being. Beyond that he was just a good person to be around. He was affable and hu­morous, and yet he was a sensitive person. He was a devoted husband. He lovingly sup­ported his family and cared deeply for oth­ers. For all who knew him, he left a mark on their hearts.

—Bill Waddell ’50, assisted by Nancy Best

Raymond N. Barry

NO. 17829  •  19 March 1926 – 08 September 2009

Died in Highland Ranch, CO
Cremated. Interred in Ft. Logan National Cemetery, Denver, CO

Raymond Ney Barry was born on 19 Mar 1926 in the small town of Hollis, OK. He grew up there with his two sisters and a younger brother. His father was a respected attorney, and his mother was an influential school teacher. At Hollis High School, Ray established an outstanding record both in the classroom and on the athletic field. He was president of his class, an honor student and a gifted athlete. In 1943 he was selected to the Oklahoma High School All-State football team as a pass-catching end. The following year, 1944, he also was named to the All-State basketball squad. Several universities offered athletic scholarships, but with World War II still underway, Ray enlisted in the Navy. While undergoing boot-camp he received a congressional ap­pointment to West Point. Offered a choice of Annapolis or West Point, Ray astonished his naval superiors by choosing West Point. He was transferred to the Army and sent to the U.S. Military Academy Prep School at Cornell University. Ray entered West Point in 1946 and readily adjusted to cadet life but took a carefree approach to academics. Only in athletic proficiency did he stand near the top of his class. Years later he said, “As my roommates will attest, I studied almost not at all. And I regret that because, had I put forth a better effort in academics, I would have gained a lot more intellectually than I did during those years. But I was not very disciplined back then, even in that environ­ment noted for its discipline.” Later in his ca­reer, Ray redeemed himself by earning, with honors, a Master of Science degree and two Master of Arts degrees. After graduating with his West Point Class in 1950, Ray reported to Ft. Benning, GA, for airborne training. While there he met Marjorie Burgess, and the following year, in April of 1951, they were married. Ray’s first troop duty came with the 82nd Airborne Division, and he made 20 parachute jumps with that division.

Ray saw combat in the Korean War with the 7th Infantry Division. During heavy fighting near Chorwon, Korea, he was awarded the Silver Star for bravery under fire. On that battlefield he was so severely wounded by enemy shellfire that initially he was not expected to live. Hospitalized for an extended period, he underwent numerous operations, gradually recovered, and even­tually returned to active duty. One of  Ray’s doctors suggested that he take up golf to ben­efit from sustained walking. Ray did, and he became a skillful recreational golfer, good enough to win a number of club champion­ships through the years.

The 3rd of August 1954 was a special date for Ray and Marge, because it marked the birth of their only daughter, Paula, who later gave them two beloved grandsons.

Ray's mid-career progressed through completion of service schools, graduate civil schooling, and the assumption of increas­ing responsibilities in various command and staff positions, both stateside and over­seas. After graduating from the Army War College in 1968, he was assigned to the Army Intelligence Staff at the Pentagon and during that tour of duty was promoted to colonel. During the Vietnam War, Ray served in Saigon as an adviser to the South Vietnamese joint general staff. In 1972, Ray proceeded directly from Vietnam to Belgium for a three-year assignment on the combined gen­eral staff at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe. Returning to the states in 1975, he assumed new duties at Readiness Region VIII in Denver, CO, first as region executive officer, later as region deputy com­mander, then as region commander. Ray’s extended tour of duty at Region VIII turned out to be his final military assignment. He retired in 1980, completing thirty years of service. In the years that followed, Ray and Marge settled down to an unhurried, but still active life-of-retirement at their home in Englewood, CO.

In addition to the Silver Star and Purple Heart, Ray’s awards and decorations include three Legions of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and two foreign decorations awarded to him by the govern­ment of South Vietnam: the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and the Vietnamese Honor Medal.

Francis W. White, Jr.

NO. 17990 . 8 Dec 1925 - 12 May 2001  

Died in Scottsdale, AZ
Inurned in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA


Francis "Buddy" Wilford White, Jr, was born. in his father's hometown of Plymouth, MA, the second of five children born to Frank and Katherine Agnes White. The family moved around New England, then to Cleveland, and back to New England while Buddy was growing up. He had a particular fondness for a period spent in Northfield, VT, where he could ski to school. He graduated high school from LaSalle Academy in Providence, RI in 1944, and then entered Providence College for a year before he joined the Army during WWII. He had always wanted to go to West Point, and his father encouraged and supported Buddy’s goal. Buddy used to say that because his dad had always believed he would be successful, he finally came to believe it himself. He was eventually selected for the USMAPS program, went to Amherst College, took the exams for West Point, and joined the Class of '50.

Life during the following four years was filled with relentless studying, singing in the choir, and serving as an acolyte at Catholic services. His hockey career was cut short by a knee injury, thus confining his extracurricular interests to the camera club. Buddy’s father sent him flashlight batteries so he could cram after "lights out" on his Russian studies. He met and fell in love with Ann Gilson of Passaic, NJ, while at USMA, and they married in September 1950. Ann shared his life for 51 years, and together they raised their two children, Christine and Francis 111.

As a lieutenant in the Signal Corps, he was posted to Ft. Lewis for a short time and was then sent to Germany, assigned to Hanau and Pirmasens. An ROTC assignment at the University of Illinois followed and hatched his interest in "the business of government." Next came a tour in Korea with the Eighth Army, 304th Signal Battalion, and then two years at the Harvard Business School, acquiring an MBA degree in 1961.

Following Harvard, Buddy was assigned to Ft. Huachuca, AZ, as a contracting officer in the Electronic Proving Ground Procurement Office. There he became highly experienced in negotiating with major contractors. He considered his tour at EPG, in what was then a somewhat isolated location, a highlight in his Army career. He and Ann particularly enjoyed the picnics and other outings in the beautiful Arizona mountains and desert with three other classmates and their families, experiences that formed lifelong bonds.

Buddy was next posted to CGSC at Ft. Leavenworth, and then to the Joint Communications Agency, NATO, in Fontainebleau, France, as comptroller. There his horizons expanded to include personnel and budget responsibilities for the North Atlantic Council. He moved to the Netherlands as director of the communications operations of the JCA. During this period, he was stricken with Crohn’s disease. An operation in Orleans was successful, and he recovered fully enough to be posted to Viet Nam, commanding the 521d Signal Battalion at Can Tho during 1967-68 and receiving the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, and an Air Medal.

Buddy next was posted to the office of the secretary of defense in the Pentagon, joining a study group examining reform of the military pay system and being chosen to draft the compensation section of the DOD's proposal for a volunteer military force. Following much debate in Congress, his basic plan was accepted and remained virtually unchanged for many years.

His Crohn’s disease and his and Ann’s desire to settle down prompted him to accept a disability retirement in 1972. He began a 14year career in the Civil Service, first at the General Accounting Office as an assistant director and then the more challenging posting as senior political advisor at the Office of Management and Budget. Over the next eight years,
he rose to super grade status reporting to David Stockman. While the pressure was intense, he liked the small staff and the significant impact it had. Then, in 1984, Buddy took a position as regional director in the Census Bureau in Los Angeles, supervising a staff of 55 fulltime and 300 part-time employees.

In 1986, the Harvard Business School selected him as one of ten 1961 graduates who exemplified the professional achievements of that accomplished class, profiling him in the October 1986 Bulletin. It was also the year he retired from the Civil Service and returned to Arizona for good, building a home in Scottsdale. Not content to sit around and play golf (he once made a hole-in-one on the 17th hole of the Ancala Country Club course in Scottsdale), he joined Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Phoenix, putting his analytical and planning gifts to work once again, this time as an instructor in management and accounting. These part-time duties kept him constantly learning.

His last years in Scottsdale were very pleasant. Buddy and Ann enjoyed visiting and being visited by their children, grandchildren, and friends, and their annual month in Coronado, CA, every September. Then, in spring 2001, Buddy was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died two months later.

Buddy possessed a disciplined, inquisitive mind that he put to work in a life of balanced commitments. He was a quiet and thoughtful man who appreciated the gifts of all peoples and cultures, good food, and good wine. He loved celebrations, bringing a cannon to a family Bicentennial costume party and firing it, he was a faithful Catholic and a faithful servant of our country; he was a loving and generous brother, husband, father, and friend; and no one was more ready to share a laugh at the absurdities of life. In short, he was a fine example of a West Point graduate, the embodiment of the spirit of "Duty, Honor, Country." Rest in peace, Buddy White.

-- His family and a classmate

Robert I. Weber

NO. 17766  •  18 Sep 1928 24 May 2001

Died in Flagstaff, AZ 
Cremated and interred in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.


Robert Irven Weber was born in Fosston, MN, and raised in Minneapolis. His father Irven Frank Weber died when Bob was 14 years old. His mother Myra Adeline was a school teacher and disciplinarian who taught Bob and his brother Jack William the core values that he would demonstrate as a leader throughout his life.

Bob's record of achievements started when he won the 1939 Minnesota State Yo-Yo Championship. He was a Boy Scout and reached the rank of star scout. He was a three sport letter winner (football, basketball, baseball) during his junior and senior years and was a starting guard on the Patrick Henry High School basketball team, winning the 1945 Minnesota State Championship. His first place finish on the West Point entrance exam earned him an appointment from Senator Shipstead.

At the Academy, Bob was in the middle of the class academically. His athletic ability was confirmed by his earning Numerals in baseball and football, but an even more impressive sports accomplishment was in hockey: he earned Numerals, Monogram, and Major "A." The consensus of his company classmates was that Bob was one fine individual who enriched their lives and made living in the restrictions of the Academy a little easier. During branch selection night, Bob chose the Air Force as he desired to be "The World's Greatest Fighter Pilot."

Approximately half of Bob's Air Force career was spent in his beloved fighter organizations. Upon graduation from West Point, Bob was commissioned in the Air Force and assigned to basic pilot training at Randolph AFB. He took his advanced pilot training at Williams AFB and fighter crew training at Nellis AFB. His first operational unit was the 80th Bomb Squadron in the 8th Fighter Bomb Wing (F 80s) in Korea. While with the 80th in combat, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and three Air Medals (1951-52).

After Korea, he was assigned duty as a line pilot with Air Defense Command, O'Hare Field. He had a tour of duty at ADC Headquarters, Ent AFB, before he was assigned as the U.S. representative on the Four Powers Coordination Board in the Berlin Air Safety Center. He served in this crucial position during the crisis created by the construction of the wall separating East and West Berlin. He also served as a staff officer in Weisbaden. After Germany, he attended the Air Command and Staff College (ACSC) at Maxwell AFB. Upon graduation, he was assigned as operations staff officer, J 3, Headquarters Strike Command, MacDill AFB. During his fighter days, he flew in the F 80, F 86, and F104.

His assignmentas the commander of the T 39 "Scatbacks" Squadron in Saigon, Viet Nam, broke the fighter organization chain of assignments. During this tour he earned the Bronze Star, the Republic of Viet Nam Gallantry Cross and the Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal (1967-68). Upon his return to the States, he served as a command pilot at Norton AFB. He moved to Headquarters Military Airlift Command (MAC), Scott AFB, as chief of the programming division and was selected two years later to be the base commander and deputy wing commander at McGuire AFB. He returned to HQ MAC, as director of aircrew training and resource management. His last assignment was as commander, Pacific Airlift Center, Hickam AFB. He flew T 39s and C 141s while assigned to MAC.

Bob's 30 years of distinguished service included attendance at Squadron Officer School and ACSC, and the award of a master's in business administration from George Washington University.

Bob began his civilian career as senior vice president and director of planned giving for Scripps Foundation of Medicine and Science in San Diego. During his tenure, he raised more than $220 million in estate gifts for the foundation. For this work, he was honored a number of times.

In 1988, he received a first place award for excellence in planned giving from the National Association for hospital development. In 1996, he was the first inductee to the Hall of Fame of the Planned Giving Roundtable of San Diego and honored as the Fundraiser of the Year. In 1997, he received the Planned Giving Professional of the Year Award, given to the individual who deserves national recognition for "excellence in character, achievement, and leadership."

During Christmas leave 1950, Bob married Ann Vaage, who, although not the girl next door, lived in the same block, attended the same church, and had been his high school sweetheart. Ann's father was the minister at Victory Lutheran and performed the wedding ceremony. Ann and Bob had five children: Robert, Jr., was born at Nellis AFB; Wayne and Beth were born at O'Hare Field; William joined the family in Berlin; and Kurt completed the family in Weisbaden. Ann died in 1975.

In 1976 Bob married Sue Skinner, formerly of Wichita, KS. They were a loving couple and fierce competitors on the golf course. They enjoyed the final years of Bob's military service and his second career in San Diego before moving to Flagstaff. Although retired, Bob took on consulting work for Scripps Hospital and Northern Arizona University. Their combined family included the five Weber children plus two stepdaughters, Randi Schuyler and Terri Schuyler; stepson Mark Schuyler; and 21 grandchildren.

Bob carried the values that his mother and West Point had instilled in him throughout his military and civilian service. A prevailing theme of his life was his wonderful sense of humor. He managed to entertain and inspire those associated with him, even during a lengthy bout with colon cancer. He never gave up, playing a round of golf two weeks before his death. His family, extended family, and many West Point classmates and comrades said Au Revoir to Bob at his burial with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on 3 Aug 2001.

Gene Mechling said it for all of us, "Robert I. Weber was one fine man, officer, father, and friend ... I can only smile and say thanks partner, for your friendship and for the special memories of those years. And for God's sake, pass the puck!"

James Wallace, Jr.

NO. 17624  •  6 Jun 1926 - 16 Mar 2005

Died in Alexandria, VA Inurned in Grace Episcopal Church, Alexandria, VA


James Wallace, Jr., was born in Toledo, OH, the elder of the two sons of James Wallace III and Fidelia Latimer Mills. Along with his brother George, Jim attended Toledo public schools, but Jim's last two years of high school were at The Hill School in Pennsylvania.

Jim's father was a civil engineer who earned his wings during World War I through the Aviation Branch of the Signal Corps. Jim's uncle, MG Ralph H. Wooten, was an Army Air Corps pilot. Wooten suggested that Jim consider West Point if he was interested in a military career. Heeding that advice, Jim applied for and received an appointment from Rep. Homer A Ramey of Ohio.

Well liked at the Academy, Jim participated in many activities, including the Howitzer, Pointer, 100th Nite Show, the Debate Society, and the Ski, Radio, and Model Railroad Clubs. Considered a walking encyclopedia, Jim was often called upon for obscure information. He was not a "star man" but graduated in the upper half of his class academically.

Because his father and his uncle had been pilots, Jim chose the Air Force upon graduation, but being a fighter jock was not in his future. He graduated from basic flight training flying the T-6 and then went to B-25 school, only to be washed out after 200 hours of flying time.

Jim next attended the Armament Systems Engineering School at Lowry AFB, CO, and was assigned as an aircraft maintenance officer for P-47s at a NY National Guard unit in Niagara Falls, NY. To improve his skills, he completed a five-month Training-with-Industry assignment in fire control systems at the Hughes Aircraft Corporation in Los Angeles.

There, Jim met Barbara "Bobbie" Frances Brooks after attending church one morning. As a good-looking six-footer in uniform, he garnered much attention. They saw each other often, but he soon left California, returning to New York briefly before being reassigned to Otis AFB, MA, where he worked as an aircraft maintenance officer and a personnel officer.

Although Jim and Bobbie had discussed marriage before he left California, he never proposed. After leaving, Jim missed Bobbie, so he called her and popped the question over the phone. On 27 Feb 1954, they were married in Flint, MI, where Bobbie had moved after Jim returned to the East. Their first home together was in Massachusetts.

The sudden change from maintenance to personnel prompted Jim to reevaluate his career path. He applied to the Air Force Institute of Technology and graduated in 1956 with a master's degree in electrical engineering. He was immediately assigned to the Snark missile development office at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH.

All of Jim's official papers identify him as James Wallace, Jr., but he actually was James Wallace IV, and James Wallace V was born in Ohio on 30 Nov 1956. Jim next attended another Training-with-Industry program at the Rand Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, in anticipation of work with the Air Force Space Systems Division in Los Angeles.

After three successful years at Space Systems Division, Jim, Bobbie, and Jimmy headed back east to the Office of the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development at the Pentagon. On their second day in town, they bought the first house they saw, a good decision because they lived there for many years. After serving at the Pentagon, Jim served as an Air Force officer at the Central Intelligence Agency and, after his retirement in 1970, continued with the physical sciences offices of the CIA as an expert in infra-red technology. During his service, he earned three Commendation Medals, a Meritorious Service Medal, and the CIA Black Award.

Even before he retired, Jim and the "clan" were busy in the theater, all appearing on stage in various shows. Jim and Bobbie even produced a play, and Jim was elected to the Little Theater of Alexandria Board of Governors, Jim's first civilian job was in real estate, and he became incredibly knowledgeable of the Old Town Alexandria market. When John McEnearney (USNA '49) left their firm to start a new company, he invited Jim to be one of their first agents. He was a professional agent with a sense of humor and a great asset to John's company. Upon seeing a "For Sale by Owner" sign, he remarked, "Before long, people will be taking out their own appendixes." In the '80s, Jim put his real estate knowledge to good personal use when he and Bobbie bought four run-down waterfront cottages on the Chesapeake Bay in North Beach, MD, and assisted the town in a major improvement program, including the restoration of his cottages. He and Bobbie did much of the restoration themselves and were gratified to see their efforts "help improve the North Beach image." Living in Alexandria, they nevertheless spent much of their time at their North Beach cottages.

Although very busy, Jim used a newly obtained computer to do income taxes for some clients, manage his real property and that of his son and daughter in law, and assist Bobbie with her writings. She is a highly successful author of more then 20 children's books.

In 2003, Jim developed cancer. After two years of combating it with chemotherapy and radiation, Jim died on 16 Mar 2005. He is inurned in the memorial wall at Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria, the church he and Bobbie attended for 40 years.

Bobbie now lives in McLean, VA. Their son and daughter-in-law, Christine, and two granddaughters, Victoria and Elizabeth, live nearby.

At the time of Jim's death, John McEnearney wrote of him, "Above all, he was a kind and gentle man; a true gentleman, who was always ready to help ... in any way he could.... Jim will be sorely missed by all who knew and respected him."

-- Classmates, family, and friends

Jerome N. Waldor

NO. 17421  •  21 September 1927 – 2 September 2005

Died in Livingston, NJ
Interred in Sharey Tefilo Israel, Montclair, NJ


"My dad was the wind at my back." 
Dr. Matthew Waldor, speaking at Jerry's funeral

Jerome Noel "Jerry" Waldor was born on 21 Sep 1927, the second son of Jack and Rose Waldor, in Newark, NJ. He grew up in Newark, attended Weequahic High School, and formed many lifelong friendships. Several friends from his elementary school days spoke at his funeral service. In 1950, Jerry married neighbor Rita Kaden, and eventually their family grew to three sons and eight grandchildren.

Jerry enlisted in the Navy V-5 program in 1945, but in 1946, while in pre-flight training, he received an appointment to West Point. Jerry loved West Point, and in 1950 was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Rita and Jerry traveled to postings around the country, finally landing at the Royal Air Force Station, Sculthorpe, England in 1952. He served as a crewmember on the B-45 Tornado jet bomber, receiving training as a navigator-bombardier. He returned to McGuire Air Force Base, NJ, where he remained on active duty until 1954.

In 1954, Jerry was commissioned a captain in the Air Force Reserve. At McGuire, he was selected to command the newly-formed 5th Military Airlift Squadron in I960. He moved to the Pentagon, and then in 1978, he moved to the Defense Logistics Agency. In 1983, he was assigned to Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson AFB. He assumed a Tactical Air Command assignment in May 1985, where he remained until his retirement as major general in August 1987. During his service, he received many distinctions, including the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

Military service was a pivotal force in Jerry's life. Upon his retirement, a ceremony was held at Langley AFB and attended by family and friends. At the ceremony, he spoke about his 40-plus years in military service. With his usual humility and humor, he credited both the Air Force and his wife Rita for allowing him to serve. The military gave Jerry an enormous amount; he learned a clear sense of discipline, camaraderie, a focused sense of service, and leadership skills, all of which served him well throughout his life.

In civilian life, he settled in West Orange and then South Orange, NJ, not far from where he was born. He established an insurance agency in the late 1950s, the Brounell Kramer Waldor Kane Agency, later the Waldor Agency. Under his leadership, the agency grew into a significant presence in the metropolitan New Jersey business community. An active believer in education, he earned his CPCU designation in the early 1960s. He was joined in the business by two of his sons in the 1980s. Both sons appreciated his ability to listen, guide, offer advice, and let them make their own decisions and mistakes. By early 2004, the agency employed more than 40 people. The atmosphere, while productive and disciplined, remained warm and comfortable under Jerry's tutelage. In addition to running and growing a business, Jerry remained committed to serving his community.

Jerry's life was guided by the mantra of service: service to his community, his country, and fellow humanity. Jerry served as campaign chairman in the 1980s of the United Jewish Federation of Metrowest and as president in the early 1990s. His service to that community was, and remains, legendary. He was on numerous committees and boards throughout the Federation. As one fellow board member said, "Jerry was remarkable for his ability to inspire others through his own example of hard work and total dedication." In addition to his involvement with the Metrowest community, he served on the boards of Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey, National Conference for Community and Justice, Daughters of Israel Geriatric Center, and New Jersey Y camps. His involvement in the campaign to build the West Point Jewish chapel is one his enduring legacies to West Point. The building which graces the Post is a testament to his hard work, which he shared with others.

Jerry was an avid tennis player. He played singles and doubles with competitive ferocity. He enjoyed the game and appreciated his rankings, marveling at how his ranking improved as his age bracket rose.

He was never known to say "no." "Super" became his signature answer to the question of "how are you?" This was no stock answer; this was how he felt, and he accepted the ribbing he got for answering that way with his usual grace. His infectious enthusiasm for life made him beloved throughout his communities. At a recent dinner for the Friendship Circle, an organization devoted to helping disabled, handicapped children, the director said, "Jerry was an exceptional example for all of us. He was able to give 100 percent to his community, 100 percent to his business, and 100 percent to his family."

He was devoted to the ideal of community. One of his most important missions was building communities by bridging differences. People in conflict sought him out; not as a judge, but as someone who would listen, give a fair hearing, and offer sound, pragmatic advice. He stressed what we have in common, unlike those who stress our differences.

Jerry remains sorely missed at work, at play, by his community, and by his family.

--Marc Waldor, son

Paul S. Vanture

NO. 17969  • 26 May 1924 - 30 Sep 2004  

Died in Burke, VA.
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA


Paul Schuyler Vanture was the youngest of nine children born to Charles Papachristakis and Agnes Lenore McGinnis in Norfolk, VA . His father, a Greek immigrant, attempting to Americanize his last name, changed it to "Ventura:' which was scrambled when he or an immigration officer juxtaposed the "a" and the "e." Paul’s oldest brother, George Dewey Vanture '20, was on Bataan when it fell in 1942 and was killed aboard a prison ship just prior to the end of the war. Paul acquired an "uncle" in John Porter 'Kit' Kidwell '25, who married Paul’s sister Aggie, and he lived with them after his parent’s health declined.


In 1943, as World War II raged, Paul joined the Army, served a tour in Korea, and was mustered out as a corporal in 1945 to proceed to West Point. He was active in the Choir, Glee Club, Honor Committee, and the Pointer magazine.

Commissioned in the Anti Aircraft Artillery, Paul served in the Korean War as a platoon leader in Battery D, 21st Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion of the 25th Infantry Division. Often, his unit was placed in front of the Infantry and assisted in clearing areas for attack.

During a Chinese Army offensive, his unit and the infantry had to move rearward in difficult terrain to avoid being overrun. As the Chinese infiltrated the infantry lines, with Paul’s platoon in front, Paul ordered his unit to rake fire over the front to halt the Chinese. He then moved his unit to the rear in an orderly fashion. For his actions, Paul was awarded the Silver Star.

In 1952, Paul returned to the States, stationed at Ft. Bliss, TX. There he met Lonnie Ann Woodruff, and they were married on 23 Dec 1952. After advanced schooling at Ft. Sill, OK, Paul was assigned to the first Nike Ajax Missile Battalion, Ft. Meade, MD. Afterwards, he earned a masters degree in English at Columbia University and from 1958 to 1961 taught English at the Military Academy. He was subsequently selected to attend the Ecole d’Etat Major, the French staff college, followed by an assignment to NATO Headquarters in Fontainebleau, France.

Paul then attended the Armed Forces Staff College before being assigned Departmentof the Army Operations at the Pentagon, receiving the Legion of Merit for his work. In 1968, he returned to Korea, commanding a battalion in the 38th Air Defense Brigade. He then returned to Ft. Belvoir, VA, as a staff officer with the Combat Developments Command. In 1969, Paul retired from the Army.

Paul and family then moved to Alexandria, VA, where he was offered the position of administrative assistant to Congresswoman Edith Green of Oregon. Colleague and friend Eleanor Lewis later said:

"There were rumors that he was going to be (1) a friend of Green's, (2) someone from her church, (3) a retired professional military officer, and (4) someone with absolutely no Capitol Hill experience. Needless to say, the staff was a bit on edge.... When I returned from lunch one day, there was a military cap on a chair in the reception area with lots of gold 'stuff' on it....Were we all going to be 'mustered out' under this new, tough, and possibly much too regimented authority figure? Would we have to learn to salute?”

Our new chief was none of the above. Congressional offices can be chaotic... but from the beginning Paul provided us with a calm professional order, boosted our self confidence and morale, and did so with great humor and intellect. Despite having no experience in the warfare of Capitol Hill, Paul took to his new profession immediately. He was smart, funny, stunningly intellectual, and very savvy about issues both substantive and those affecting personnel and he took to the political environment like the professional that he was in all things that he did. To boot, Paul was a superb writer, something every member of Congress desperately needs on the staff."

Upon Greed's retirement, Paul served in the same capacity for Congressman Otis Pike of New York. He also briefly wrote movie reviews for a friend during her leave of absence. His work was such an improvement that she feared she would be out of a job, but Paul had no qualms about handing it back over to her.

At Paul's funeral, Richard Craig '49 said:

Paul was many different people. He was my brother in law. He was a loving husband, a father, a scholar, an undernourished child, a youth orphaned at an early age, a college professor, a writer, a storehouse of funny stories, an artillery battalion commander, a photographer, a West Point graduate, an enlisted man in WWII, an administrative assistant to congressional representatives, and a laughing companion on a mountain trout fishing trip. Paul was an insatiable reader, a person with reason for pride, and yet possessing a quiet humility. He was a man for all seasons, a warm friend always interested in every aspect of out lives.”

Paul was one of those rare people we often hear of but seldom encounter: a genuine American war hero who cared more for his men than he did for himself. Since Paul's death, I have mentioned his name in conversations with three of his classmates. Significantly, each of them separately used the same words to describe Paul: "What a sweet man!"

Paul is survived by his wife Lonnie Ann; three daughters, Ann Lenore, Cordelia and Elizabeth; two grandsons, Paul and Skyler, and one granddaughter, Cristen.

- Paul D. Vanture '58 with thanks to Lonnie Ann Vanture, Ann Vanture, Elizabeth Vanture Cain, Cordeia Vanture Morgan, Richard Craig ‘49, Joe Laccetti ‘50 and Joe Buccolo ‘50

John Ufner

No. 17796  •  18 Aug 1926 - 22 Oct 2004

Died in Stuart, FL
Interred in West Point Post Cemetery, West Point, NY


Throughout his life, John Ufner was well known, not only for his wit but also for his ability to make life long friends. All who knew him still miss him. But there is much more to say about John.

John was born in August 1926 in Lyndora, PA, a small town in western Pennsylvania. His family later moved to nearby Butler, PA, where John graduated from high school in 1944. When John was a high school sophomore, his father died. As a youth, John thought West Point was only something you read about or saw in the newsreels, and becoming a cadet was something remote and probably unobtainable. At the time of his father's passing, however, John’s high school English teacher gave him a book on West Point to encourage him to pursue the goal of becoming a cadet. He ultimately won an appointment as a result of competitive examinations.

After graduating from high school and before entering the Academy, John served as a private in the Army Reserves. Before entering the Academy in July 1946, John attended Millard's Preparatory School in Washington, DC. As his entry in the 1950 Howitzer attests, John made innumerable friends, was someone whom everyone knew, and ensured that there never was a dull moment when he was around.

The Military Academy afforded John a wide scope for his athletic abilities and interests. His major sports achievement was earning his numerals, monogram, and Major "N' as a member of the baseball team. In addition, he earned numerals for participating in football for three years. He also played on the Academy golf team in his First Class year and won the intramural championship.

As it was for so many of his classmates, John’s transition from First Classman to combat leader was swift and unexpected. In August 1950, John arrived in Korea as an infantry platoon leader with the 21st Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division. For his outstanding valor in combat, John was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. After his Korean War tour, he was assigned as aide de camp to the commanding general of the Third Armored Division. He served as aide de camp for one year in Tokyo and in a similar capacity at Ft. Knox, KY; Camp Rucker, AL; and Ft. Benning, GA.

In 1954, John married the beautiful Marilyn DeMotte in Indianapolis, IN. Together they became the proud parents of two daughters: Annette in 1954 and Elizabeth in 1958. The pattern of a strong and loving family was established early.

John's last military assignment was as assistant G 1 for the 3rd Division. Afterwards, in 1955, he resigned as a captain. He then joined the Superior Steel Corporation in Carnegie, PA, before accepting a position with the Republic Steel Corporation in Detroit, MI, as assistant district sales manager and then district sales manager there. These responsibilities were followed by successive positions as district sales manager in Pittsburgh, PA, and in Cleveland, OH, finally attaining the status of general manager of sales. His sales career finally ended when he became vice president, still with Republic Steel, in charge of the Manufacturing Group. In 1984, he retired from this position, a happy man with both daughters married and on their way to success. At this time, he formed John Ufner and Associates, a consulting group. He then retired again, moving to Coral Gables, FL, where he continued to play golf, his favorite sport.

Those who knew John well remember the personal details of his life: that he liked instant coffee, that neither he nor Marilyn smoked, and that he did some photography and gardening besides playing golf. They also remember his golf handicap was an impressive five. During retirement, traveling was a major activity for the Ufners. Clearly, he enjoyed both his professional and personal life and had a deep love for his family. For a time during retirement, when John found life somewhat boring, he got his broker's license and became associated with Prudential Bache and then Paine Webber, before finally retiring for good in Stuart, FL.

On 22 Oct 2004, John died on the golf course, apparently of a heart attack, doing what he always enjoyed. He left behind his beloved wife Marilyn, and, in his own words, two wonderful daughters and five superb grandchildren.

John declared that the Academy was the most influential part of his life because it instilled in him honor and integrity. When he learned that he had received his appointment, he did not realize then that West Point would forever shape his life. He also believed West Point was a significant factor in helping him to form the close and lasting personal relationships that he did.

The esteem and respect in which John was held were evident at his funeral at West Point. In addition to his immediate family, some of his closest friends from near and far were in attendance. The funeral ceremony was as expected for one of ours. Prayers, three rifle volleys, Taps, and presentation of the American flag to Marilyn took place, after which we walked silently away. It was over, but John, a loyal son of West Point and true friend to many, will be long remembered.

-- Family, friends, and classmates

Francis E. Thompson

NO. 17558  •  17 Mar 1929 - 6 Jul 2007

Died in Charleston, SC
Interred in Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, SC


Francis Eugene Tompson was born on St. Patrick's Day 1929 in the small central North Carolina town of Salisbury. From an early age, Frank was interested in aviation and built flyable model airplanes out of balsa wood. He joined the local Civil Air Patrol unit while still in high school and solo-piloted a J-3 Piper Cub at the age of 16. Frank completed 12 years of school in ten, but graduated with honors. He attended North Carolina State in Raleigh for one year, where he was appointed first sergeant in ROTC as a freshman.

Academics came easy to Frank at West Point, He had used some of the same text books at NC State, and he was typically in the upper sections. Physically, the Academy was somewhat more difficult. He participated in intramurals. As a cow, he also participated in the annual Goat-Engineer Football Game on Thanksgiving Day as an Engineer. The Goats won the game, but Army did beat Navy the next Saturday. Indeed, Frank never saw Army lose to Navy during his four years.

The Air Force became a separate service on 18 Sep 1947, and, at graduation, Frank chose to enter the Air Force as a pilot trainee. This choice brought laughs from his classmates, since Frank had become air sick on every flight during his summers as a cadet!

During Cow summer, Frank met a student nurse named Frances Coley back home in North Carolina, and, although she was at West Point for his graduation, she would not marry him until he was half-way through basic pilot training at Perrin AFB, TX. He would drive the 2500-mile round trip from Sherman to Concord, NC, on weekends just to date her until she agreed to marry him on 24 Nov 1950 in Salisbury. Ironically, since leave was not allowed for student pilots, the morning report for Perrin AFB on 24 November showed him present for duty in Salisbury, since the Air Force gave him time off without leave! In addition to flying aging T-6 aircraft at Perrin, he flew T-6s, brand new T-28s, and war-weary B-25s at Reese AFB, Lubbock, TX, prior to earning his wings on 4 Aug 1951. Frank rapidly earned his senior pilot wings in August 1958. (He would rapidly advance to command pilot in 1966.)

Frank and Frances were assigned to Great Falls AFB in Montana. There, he flew C-54s to Alaska, and she worked at a Catholic hospital. Frank mused to his mother. "The back of my airplane smells just like the back of Daddy's old trucksÑonly I'm flying fruit and produce to Alaska, not driving it!" The tour in Montana was short, however, and he was assigned to fly C-47s in Korea, where the war had broken out in June 1950. In Korea, C-47s were used to drop propaganda leaflets on the enemy, carry agents up north to parachute out and infiltrate back into the south, and hover over enemy lines broadcasting surrender enticements from a speaker. During his five-month, 76-mission tour, he earned the Distinguished Frying Cross and several Air Medals.

Returning stateside in June 1952, Frank rejoined his wife at Brookley AFB, Mobile, AL, where they spent some wonderful years. Serving in an air evacuation unit, flying C-47s, they covered all of the Southeast, from New Orleans to St. Louis to Washington to Miami, moving sick, wounded, and other military patients. The small unit had plenty of camaradarie. Years later, in 1981, Frank established a series of squadron reunions that lasted for years until too many of the old group had passed on. While at Brookley, Frank learned to be the squadron adjutant and personnel officer, attending the Squadron Officers Course at Maxwell AFB, AL. He turned down an of-fer to become an instructor there in order to transfer to Kelly AFB, TX, to be aide to MG James Stowell '24, Commander, Continental Division, MATS. At nearby Lackland AFB, their daughter Terri Lynn was born in November 1953. After MG Stowell retired in 1954, Frank flew C-54s with the 1700th Air Transport Group until he transferred to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor to earn his MS in aeronautical engineering. In Ann Arbor, their son Stuart Nelson was born in January 1957. One rebel and one Yankee, though both would graduate from high school in Fairborn, OH.

Frank then went to the AF Missile Test Center at Patrick AFB, FL, where for four very interesting and fun-filled years he helped prepare the Atlantic Missile Range for missile tests launched from Cape Canaveral. He averaged over 40 flying hours a month despite filling a demanding desk job. From Florida, he transferred to Seattle, WA, for training with the Boeing Company, followed by a tour at the Space Systems Division of the AF in Los Angeles, furnishing refurbished Atlas missiles for the Mercury and other programs. He also worked on the Titan and Gemini programs before being transferred to Charleston AFB, SC, where he flew C-141 jet transports, primarily to Viet Nam.

A short 13-month tour on Midway Island in command of the Airlift Command Post for MAC followed. Then, Frank returned to Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, where he was the MAC liaison to the C-5A Program Office. With a rare PCA without PCS, he moved into the Aeronautical Systems Division as chief of reliability, maintainability, systems safety and quality control for all aircraft programs, such as the F-15, B-l, A-10, and F-16. He retired to Charleston, SC, in June 1976.

In retirement, Frank became very involved in community affairs and accepted a position with the University of Southern California as a teacher of graduate systems management courses on military bases around the world. Since both of his children had graduated from college (daughter Terri from Florida State University and son Stuart with the USMA Class of '78), Frances accompanied him on his many tours. From Europe to Japan, Guam, and Hawaii, as well as all over the United States, he passed on important lessons from his lifetime experiences to young military officers of all the services. When USC dropped this program in 1990, Frank earned a master's degree in history at local schools and taught history and aeronautical subjects for Limestone College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the Charleston area.

- JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2008 TAPS 41

Harold W. Strickland

NO. 17448  •  20 Jul 1926 - 16 Apr 2000

Died in Paulden, AZ
Interred: West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY


Harold Wade Strickland was born in Memphis, TN, to Carlisle and Eunice Strickland. He was a seri­ous student and always loved flying. "Hal" received his pilot's license when he was just 12 years old.

During high school, he joined the ROTC at Cen­tral High in Memphis and concurrently wrote to his congressman requesting an appointment to the Acad­emy. Since there had been no prior contact, the con­gressman merely set up the procedure whereby Hal could take the civil service examination in competi­tion for an appointment. Many months passed with no results, so he applied to the Army Air Corps for service in 'WWII. Seven days before his induction, his congressman informed him that he was to be an alter­nate appointee to West Point. Hal was inducted into the Army Air Corps but was sent to Amherst College in Massachusetts for entrance exam preparations rather than flight school. Hal passed all the entrance exami­nations but nevertheless had to wait an additional year to obtain the principal appointment.

Before receiving that second appointment, he spent seven enjoyable months as a control tower operator at Westover Field, MA. He returned to Amherst College for further preparatory study and for officer's candi­date courses at the Infantry School at Ft. Berming. His discharge was granted in June 1946 and, one month later, Hal finally arrived at the Academy.

He cherished his days as a cadet. Out of 671 in the class, he graduated number 102 academically and held the rank of cadet captain, the highest rank obtainable. His last year was particularly enjoyable as he was com­pany commander, a position that afforded more lead­ership opportunities.

After graduation, Hal began pilot training in T-6s at Connally AFB in Waco, TX. Over Christmas leave, he drove back to Larchmont, NY, and married Sally Pearse, whom he had met briefly on Easter weekend at the Academy. They spent their honeymoon travel­ing back to Waco via New Orleans. Hal soon was sent to Craig AFB in Selma, AL, where he received his wings and flew the F-51 Mustang, his other love. Together, Hal and Sally journeyed to Luke AFB, where Hal re­ceived gunnery training near Phoenix, AZ. Sally later returned to the East Coast to await the arrival of their first child as Hal prepared to serve with the Fifth Air Force at Kimpo Field in Korea. There, he earned the Distin­guished Flying Cross and two Air Med­als. After completing the required 100 missions, he rotated back to the States to serve with the Air Defense Command at Niagara Falls, NY At first, they only had F-47s, which was a slight disap­pointment, but then they received the F-86 Saber jet and all was well. Hal was appointed Flight Commander and spent hours concentrating on making his flight the best all-weather interceptor flight in the Air Force.

Another son and a daughter were born while the Strickland family lived in Niagara Falls. It seemed pru­dent at the time to resign from the Air Force, and he did so in 1957. The family moved to California and Hal was hired to work on the Navaho Missile System for North American Aviation. One month later, the Na­vajo project was scrapped and so was the job. A week later, Honeywell hired Hal to work in their engineer­ing department and another son was born. He worked there for 12 years and was promoted to Western Re­gional Manager. He also found time to earn his master's degree in engineering at the University of California - ­Los Angeles and flew for the Air National Guard out of Ontario, CA. His next step up the corporate ladder required a move to Minnesota but Hal declined.

It was time to start his own business. In 1998 , Hal decided to retire and move with Sally to a 60-acre ranch in Arizona, near Prescott. Oh, how he loved working on the ranch and being outdoors! One morn­ing, two years later, he complained of being tired. That evening, he passed away quietly, without pain or dis­comfort. His 50th reunion at West Point was a month away and he eagerly had been looking forward to see­ing his buddies and sharing good times again. His chil­dren came from all parts of the world to be with Sally and remember their dear dad. Hal was interred at his beloved West Point with full military honors.

- Lovingly submitted by Sally P Strickland

Robert J. Seitz

NO. 17811  •  17 Oct 1928 - 25 Feb 2005

Died in Topeka, KS. Inurned in St. David's Episcopal Church, Topeka, KS

 

Robert Jordan Seitz was born to Robert and Margaret Seitz in Des Moines, IA. In 1946, at the age of 17, he graduated cum laude from Shattuck School, Fairbault, MN. During his senior year, Jordan took the entrance tests for the Military Academy after obtaining an appointment at the urging of his father and grandfather. One of his favorite stories about taking the tests was arriving to find his friends were taking the short test, and he was scheduled to take the long one. He said he told the officer that he, too, would take the short one because he had a date he did not want to break. Luckily, the officer gave him the short test. Jordan entered the Military Academy that summer, and later he frequently talked about receiving a few demerits and having to walk them off. He was in Company F-1 and a sergeant his First Class year. He served as an acolyte for two years, on the Debate Council, and sang in the Catholic Choir for four years. Jordan also was part of a group that sang at the White House for President Harry Truman.

Jordan later expressed his thoughts on graduation in 1950, saying, "I mark completion and graduation as an accomplishment because it was a rigorous program and not natural for me, both militarily and academically. I did not have a strong desire for a military career, but in that, I do not think I was different from most. One had to adapt to the system to succeed; I felt I would succeed because to do otherwise was to fail."

Three weeks after Jordan's graduation, North Korea invaded South Korea. He was assigned to Ft. Lewis, WA, training reserves recalled to active duty. The training was done in groups of 200 in 21 day cycles. Jordan's next assignment was in Salzburg, Austria, where, he wrote, he "enjoyed life immensely, socially, (single), skiing, and troop duty."

In 1954, while stationed at Ft. Carson, CO, Jordan left the Army. He spent a few months as a ski bum and working for a building contractor. In September, he left to teach Spanish and mathematics at Shattuck School. In December 1955, he married Arlie Gilmore in Colorado Springs, CO.

In 1956, Jordan became a student at Georgetown Foreign Service School, and, a year later, he re entered the Army and was sent to the Air Defense School at Ft. Bliss, TX. Afterwards, he served as battery commander of an Air Defense Missile battery on Telegraph Hill, NJ.

In April 1961, Jordan attended the Communication School at Ft. Still, OK, and then went to Germany as a battery commander in the 3rd Armored Division, Hanau. In 1963, he served as a budget analyst and controller at HQ U.S. Army, Europe in Heidelberg. Afterward, he returned to Ft. Bliss, TX before joining the 52nd Brigade, Air Defense, in Sandy Hook, NJ, as assistant operations officer. From September 1966 until October 1967, he was stationed at HQ US. Army, Korea, in Seoul. There he completed his work for a masters degree from Rutgers University He was also deeply involved with the Pearl Buck Foundation, working with fatherless Amerasian children.

From 1967 to 1970, Jordan was a logistics staff officer at HQ 1st Region, U.S. Army Air Defense Command, Newburgh, NY. Subsequently, he was stationed in Panama, where he worked with supplies to Latin American countries Quarry Heights; controller, Ft. Amador.

In 1973, Jordan retired as a lieutenant colonel in Topeka, KS, and completed work for a Master of Business Administration at the University of Kansas. He worked as a program performance analyst and auditor for the State of Kansas and later was the chief of the Bureau of Right Away, Department of Transportation. From December 1979 until October 1993, when he retired, he reviewed operations as a management analyst in the Office of the Inspector General.

In 1998 Jordan married Judy Spiker Whitney They enjoyed seven years together.

Jordan was dedicated to the Episcopal Church and was active at St. David's. He was also very supportive of people in need. He took piano lessons and regularly entertained the residents of a nursing home. He also tutored elementary students and prison inmates. Although he had a number of health problems in the later part of his life, his death was unexpected.

Jordan's children remember their father as one who looked at all experiences as learning opportunities. He encouraged them to swim, sail, snow and water ski, ice skate, play tennis, and surf. He liked to take them to history and art museums, plays, band concerts, and musicals. His children appreciate these experiences and Jordan's financial support, which allowed them to graduate from college without college loans.

Jordan's memorial service was conducted 5 Mar 2005 at St. David's Episcopal Church in Topeka. He was interred at St. David's with military honors provided by the 568th Engineer Company, Ft. Riley, KS.

Jordan is survived by his second wife Judy and his four children: Annette, Susan, Jeannie, and John. He is also survived by eight grandchildren: Jenna, Katie, Sarah, Pierce, Mason, Britt, Jackson, and Sam.

Blair A. Ross, Jr.

NO. 17528  •  5 Jul 1927 29 – 29 Sep 2002

Died in Arlington, VA
Inurned in Hollywood Cemetery, Jackson, TN


Blair Artbur Ross, Jr. personified the citizen soldier and leader of character that West Point strives to provide. He was loyal and capable as an Army officer during war and peace, made distinguished contributions as an engineer and manager in the electric power industry for over three decades, and was a good husband and father to his beloved wife Mary and their three children. He stands proudly in the Long Gray Line, adding a special shade that reflects his unique spark and personality.

Blair was born in Jackson, TN, the son of an adventurous father whose various occupations led all around the globe. When he met Blair's mother Alice, she convinced him to settle in the Volunteer State. Growing up between Memphis, Jackson, and the Shiloh Battlefield Park, Blair picked up two defining, lifelong characteristics: a Southern drawl, and a love for trains, born from watching the 2 6 2s of the L&N and the GM&O pounding down the mainlines on the warm summer afternoons of his childhood.

In 1944, following graduation from the Columbia Military Academy, Blair entered Harvard University. Not taking to this bastion of New England academe, he left the following summer and promptly was drafted into the Army. After brief stateside service in an Anti Aircraft Artillery unit, he entered the preparatory program at Amherst.

Entering the Corps in 1946, Blair brought his rail fan roots with him, and his classmates recall the extraordinary depth of his fascination. One said, "I suspect you could have asked him the arrival time of the Trans Siberian Express in some burg on the steppes, and Blair would ask whether you wanted the east or westbound train.' His respect for the vagaries of electric current was reflected in his curious approach to "Juice' labs. Rain or shine, he wore his cadet rubber galoshes, explaining that one could not be too careful with this high voltage stuff. He did not want to be the shortest uninsulated path to the ground.

Upon graduation in 1950, Blair was commissioned into the Coast Artillery Corps in its waning days. On its 
disestablishment, Blair chose to go to the Corps of Engineers, but initially was detailed Field Artillery for service in the Korean War. In 1952, Blair deployed to Korea, spending a year as an observation officer and batteryXO with the 1st Field Artillery Observation Battalion, directing counter battery fire for Eighth Army. Blair reestablished contact with fellow veterans many years later, attended a reunion in Colorado, and always enjoyed their correspondence.

Blair returned to Ft. Belvoir, VA, to begin his service with the Corps of Engineers, commanded an Engineer Officer Candidate School Company and then was assigned as district executive officer in the Mississippi River Engineer District office in Memphis, TN. Back in his home state, he made frequent visits to his hometown, where he met and began courting Mary, who became his wife within a year.

Blair then earned a master's degree in electrical engineering at Purdue University, followed by an assignment with the USMA Electrical Engineering Department. The birth of their three children Blair Jr., Elisabeth, and Susan came over the course of these years.

In 1960, Blair embarked on a second career with the American Electric Power Corporation, based in New York City. Blair, Mary, and the kids established their new home in Ridgewood, NJ, where they would remain for the next two decades.
Blair steadily ascended the corporate ladder, from systems planning engineer through senior vice president for Energy Resources Planning, His professional responsibilities spanned every aspect of the industry, from power generation to distribution to fuel supply, and, to his enduring pleasure, studies of the electrification of the U.S. railway system.Blair contributed finely honed professional standards, a "people" focus, and a rock solid foundation of integrity and straightforward communication, all of which he attributed to his time as a cadet and an officer. Blair also imbued his perspective and core values in his children, lessons that served them well. All three children went to college: Blair Jr. '78 to West Point, Elisabeth to Utah State University, and Susan to Vassar College.

In 1980, Blair and Mary moved, with the relocation of corporate offices, to Columbus, OH, where they remained until Blair's retirement in 1992. During this time, two of their children were married and five grandchildren were born, putting into action much family related travel within the United States and abroad. Blair and Mary moved smoothly into their roles as grandparents, sparing no travel effort or expense to be a part of their grandchildren's lives. They left Ohio in 1997, intending to settle permanently in Franklin, TN.

Tragically, an untimely stroke took Mary's life shortly after their relocation. The devastating loss of his companion of 42 years deeply affected Blair, reinforcing his sensitivity and his appreciation for relationships with family and friends. Unfortunately, Blair's health began to deteriorate following Mary's death. Within two years, Blair relocated to Arlington, VA, to be closer to his son and eldest daughter. Blair then happily rekindled relationships with many DC area classmates, who warmly welcomed him and provided generous support in ensuring that he participated in their routine gatherings and in his Class's 50th reunion, one of his proudest moments.

In September 2002, Blair succumbed to his debilitating illness, but his final years were marked by frequent contact with family and friends. To the end, he had an undying respect for West Point and what it stands for. He rested easy after his final walk across the Plain, shoulder to shoulder with his classmates, on that fine autumn day in 2000. He had come back to an institution that so deeply influenced his life as his life did ours. Be thou at peace.

-- His children, friends, and classmates

Emil A. Pohli

NO. 17549  •  8 June 1928 – 6 Apr 2001

Died in Dallas, TX
Interred in Oakwood Cemetery, Waco, TX

 

“Stand up straight,” the sergeant angrily commanded. “I am standing as tall as I can,” protested a resolute 2LT Emil Pohli. Since the sergeant trying to measure Emil was not at all convinced that a hunched over graduate from West Point could stand no taller, the clash between them grew louder and more intense. Hearing enough, an officer standing some distance away bellowed, “That man is six feet tall.” And that is how a determined Emil Pohli, who stood a full 6’2”, became an Air Force fighter pilot. This story is emblematic of the determination that Emil displayed at West Point, during his military career and all through his life.

Emil Austin Pohli was born in Vallejo, CA. At the time, his father was a career Navy man commanding a seagoing tug, USS Undaunted – a name both depictive and prescient of his newborn son. A year later, Emil’s brother Richard “Dick” was born. In 1930, his father was given shore duty in San Francisco, causing the family to move to Mill Valley.

His boyhood was sprinkled with camping trips, BB gun fights, swimming in a cold San Francisco Bay, and all the other things an energetic young boy  would do. He was a popular leader among peers, athletically gifted, and a Boy Scout. He breezed through academics, skipping a semester in grade school and graduating from Tamalpias High School in three and one-half years. Although not yet 17 years old, he was the best high hurdler in the league. After high school, he enrolled in Rutherford’s Preparatory School in Long Beach, CA, to prepare for the competitive examination.

After scoring well on the examination, he found that his congressman did not have an available appointment to Annapolis but did have one to West Point. Emil took it, crushing his old navy-man father’s heart.  Dick retrieved the family’s “honor” by going to the Naval Academy two years later.

At West Point Emil took the rigors of cadet life in stride, without letting stress affect his innate fun loving and easygoing attitude. Yet as one of his classmates observed, “Beneath an easygoing exterior he was more serious than the average cadet.” He was intent in excelling in all endeavors he deemed important. Leadership and maturity beyond his years were recognized by  achieving the rank of cadet lieutenant his First Class year. He was an outstanding high hurdler on the track team and a member of the relay team that won the high hurdles in the Penn Relays.

After graduation, Emil attended pilot training at James Connally AFB in Waco, TX, where he met his future wife Marynada Hill. Advanced training in the F-80 at Williams AFB, AZ, followed. With a third of his class washing out, those were tense times. Yet one classmate observed that Emil “didn’t seem the least bit worried about the possibility, which says something about his confidence.”

After gunnery school at Luke AFB, he joined the 159th Fighter Bomber Squadron  in Japan in November 1951. During June-December 1952, the unit was sent to Korea, becoming the 429th FBS. In Japan and Korea, Emil flew 75 missions in the F-84 and was awarded three air medals.

Back in the States, he served as an instructor in the 3645th Fighter Training Wing. Except for a few months at the Squadron Officers School, he remained in the 3645th until stricken with polio in the fall of 1955. He lost the use of his legs.

Emil retired (disabled) as a captain and was sent to a VA hospital in Oakland, CA, but that he didn’t take to invalid life is an understatement. After nearly a year in the hospital, he learned to drive with hand controls and left the facility. For the next two years he was employed in the purchasing department of Beckman Instruments in Richmond, CA.

Later, he moved to Dallas, TX, where he worked in the heavy construction equipment industry and held positions in sales and sales management for several companies. He was very successful. During his years in Texas, he was active in the West Point Society of North Texas and served terms as president and treasurer. He had a great reverence for West Point.

His feats as a paraplegic are legendary. A crowning achievement was designing, installing, and actually driving a jeep with hand controls that manually shifted gears. One hand operated the clutch, the other the gearshift, while somehow the car was steered. This vehicle allowed him to take his family and mother-in-law on fishing trips to the high mountains. For a while, he had a boat and lifted himself into it. From a camouflaged wheelchair, he hunted doves and ducks. He swam and worked out with weights. He had a full workshop in the garage where he built a desk and other furniture. If he could reach it, he could fix anything in the house. He cooked indoors and outdoors; his specialty was barbecued chicken in his own contrived sauce.

No one, not a family member, not a classmate, not an associate ever, ever, heard him complain or hint of self-pity. Instead, he joked about his condition. When his son was in Indian Guides, they called themselves “Little Running Feet” and “Big Rolling Seat.” He accepted what he couldn’t do and zestfully pursued all he could. One classmate said, in words that expressed the sentiments of all, “He had an irrepressible spirit and a cheerful, outgoing manner. Nothing seemed to intimidate him. His attitude was an inspiration to me.” His brother said that if only allowed two words to describe Emil, they are “character and guts.” His daughter said he was “fearless.”

Emil was a member of the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration and a strong Christian with complete confidence in the Lord. He is survived by his brother Dick, daughter Anne, son Scott, and wife of 50 years, Marynada, who steadfastly stood by him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. And so it is, as the Long Gray Line stretches farther, the footsteps grow faint.

- A roommate with contributions from family and graduates.

Samuel N. Nicholson, Jr.

NO. 17765 . 1 Dec 1927 - 19 Mar 2002  

Died in Austin, TX
Inurned in West Point Post Cemetery, West Point NY


Samuel Newton Nicholson Jr, was born in Camden, SC, the only child of Samuel Nicholson, Sr., and Mary Edna Clyburn. He attended the Camden public schools and graduated as valedictorian in June 1945.

Immediately upon graduation, he entered the Army and was trained as an aircraft radio operator and cryptographer. He subsequently was selected by the Army to attend Clemson University. While there, he was nominated by a South Carolina legislator to attend the Military Academy. At his entrance physical examination, he weighed in at just under the weight requirements. The examining doctor said, "Son, how badly do you want to go to West Point?" He replied, "More than anything in the world, Sir." The doctor then wrote in the required weight and said to him "Congratulations, soldier, be sure to drink a lot of milkshakes." He was known to drink a lot of milkshakes.

Sam entered USMA in 1946. The Howitzer characterization says Sam’s nickname was "Tiger," and that he was "a feared opponent of visiting wrestling teams’ and "not quite sold on the restrictions of West Point." Although slight of build, he was an avid and aggressive athlete all his life. He was always up for a football, whiffle hall, or tennis game, or a softball game in a local league. He was a stickler for disciplined play and following the rules.

Upon his graduation, Sam chose the Air Force, which was what he had always wanted. He married Ella Priscilla Kresge of Lehighton, PA, in 1950, and they proceeded to navigation, bombing, and radar schools, where Sam became a triple rated observer for the new jet-powered bombers.

His subsequent assignments as a flyer, however, were in the Strategic Air Command’s B29 and B 50 bombers. His main assignment was with the 509th Bomb Wing, the unit that had bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of WWII. He was responsible for dropping test atomic bombs. Dad recounted the time when he was commanded, "Boys, fly through the clouds." Following those orders, he recalled how the surface of the aircraft actually glowed from radioactivity
During the time of the Korean and Cold Wars, his wing was assigned targets in the Soviet Union targets where the likelihood of return was suspect. Sam participated in several deployments to strike bases in England and Guam. This experience, as well as the Great Depression and a Scottish heritage, shaped his view of the world. He was insistent that all his children learn to be strong in character, independent, and enter enduring professions.

Sam then obtained his aeronautical engineering degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He served at Bergstrom AFB (12th and 27th Strategic Fighter Wings) and MacDill AFB (305th Bomb Wing). While at MacDill, Sam headed a team that found the cause of the loss of six B 47s.

About this time, the Strategic Air Command developed its "weapons system' concept, and Sam was assigned to the B 52/KC135 Operational Engineering Section at Castle AFB. There he worked on many projects, including B 52G cold weather, wing stress, and 1000 hour operation tests; effects of extremely cold weather on fuel efficiency , and problems associated with extended flights over polar regions.

During this time, Sam’s health began to fail, and he was transferred to Letterman General Hospital in California. There he underwent surgery and was retired with 100 percent disability.

Upon regaining his health, Sam and his family headed back to Austin where he enrolled in the University of Texas and received his Ph.D. in education in 1964. He held a succession of college and university positions in Texas, including dean of men at Amarillo College, dean of administration at Navarro College, and director of inter institutional relations at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Dedicated to education, Sam later taught in the Killeen and Hayes County school districts and was a college professor.

Sam joined the Texas State Guard and served as a company commander, battalion commander, and ultimately as the full time director of personnel as a colonel. He later became the director of the Texas State Guard Division, receiving several awards and commendations.

Sam was active in the Rotary Clubs of Belton and West Austin and was elected president of both clubs. He served as chaplain for the Texas Retired Officers Association (Austin chapter) and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (Post 443), of which he was a life member.

Always central in his life was his Christian faith and service. He and his family were active in Baptist churches in every town in which they lived. He was a deacon chairman, Sunday School Director, chairman of many committees, and teacher of both adults and children. Sam also was elected to the executive board of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Sam and Priscilla served on a number of church sponsored mission trips in the U.S. and made two evangelical trips to India. After retirement in 1989, they served with the Foreign Mission Board as English teachers in China for two years.

Priscilla was his Iifelong partner. She earned a nursing degree from the University of Mary Hardin Baylor when the family lived in Belton and kept current in her field by working and caring for their seven children. Later she served in a number of nursing jobs in hospitals and public health organizations.

Sam is survived by his wife Priscilla and their seven children: Dr. Charles Nicholson, wife Dr Judy, and their two children: Alex and Reed; daughter Mary Olden and her husband, Mike; daughter Eve Klein, husband Jjohn, and their three children: Adrianne, Nicholas, and Adam; son COL Robert Nicholson, wife Lori, and their two children: Annie Rose and Niki; daughter Dr. Marjorie White, husband Ralph, and their four children: Robert, Priscilla, Lillian, and Sammy; daughter Amy Sides, husband Schafer, and their three children: Sarah, Mary, and Samantha, and son Chaplain (MAJ) Ted Nicholson, USAFR.

Phillip E. Nicolay

NO. 17727  •  12 Feb 1927 - 20 Apr 2005

Died in Naples, FL. Ashes scattered in the Gulf of Mexico.


Phillip Elmer "Pete" Nicolay's home town was St. Louis, and he was a loyal Cardinal fan and member of Branch Rickey's original Knothole Gang. As a boy, he loved to go fishing and hunting with his father hobbies that became lifelong interests.

Pete attended Western Military Academy in Alton, IL, and when he applied to West Point, he was a third alternate for a congressional appointment. The first man resigned his appointment, however, and the second failed the physical, so Pete entered the Academy in 1945. A Plebe football injury held him back a year, so he did not graduate until 1950.

Those who remember Pete from his West Point years recall a fine bridge player, an avid skeet enthusiast, and a member of the Fishing Club and Skeet Club. He could also be found on the ski slopes during snowy New York winters and became a competent skier.

Upon graduation, Pete chose the Infantry and trained as a paratrooper at Ft. Benning, GA, before serving in the 11th Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. There, in 1950, he married Marion Barnes an 'Army brat.' In early 1952, Pete was assigned to Korea with the 3rd Division, transferring to the 612th Field Artillery Battalion on Okinawa in 1953, where Marion joined him for a year.

In early 1954, Pete resigned from the Army as a first lieutenant and became an aerospace engineer with Rocketdyne at Edwards Air Force Base in California, working there for six years. He eventually became chief of all Rocketdyne operations on the base. During Pete and Marion’s time there, they adopted two children, Julie and Phil.

Pete then took a year off from engineering to own and operate a small casino in Carson City, NV a heady experience. He and Marion greatly enjoyed the beauty of the scenic area, the friendly people, and the best climate they had encountered during their nomadic life together.

In 1961, Pete returned to his first profession, accepting a position with Pratt and Whitney in West Palm Beach, FL, as a supervisor in their rocket testing program. He later transferred to Connecticut, working with aircraft engines and fuel cells.

Raising their children was a challenge and a delight for Pete and Marion, and he enjoyed watching them grow and mature. He encouraged his talented daughter Julie in her musical ambitions and helped Phil by teaching him to fish and shoot. He also coached and managed Phil's Little League teams. Julie now lives in Tucson, AZ, and Phil divides his time between New England and the Florida Keys, captaining boats for a New York businessman.

While living in Connecticut, Marion pursued a master's degree to teach art in a Connecticut high school, and Pete encouraged her in her efforts. During those years in New England, Pete fullfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a private pilot. Soon Marion also took up flying, and they purchased a small plane of their own. They ultimately owned five such planes at different times and established an aviation mail order business that they ran out of their home for several years. Pete was proud that they took their last plane, a Cessna Skyhawk, into 49 states (they never made it to Hawaii). They also flew to Canada, Mexico, and the Bahamas in that plane, nicknamed the Bluejay.

In 1982, Pete retired and spent a short time working in real estate. In 1988, he and Marion moved to Marco Island, FL, where Pete thought he'd gone to heaven. He was a happy boat owner, loved the fishing in Southwest Florida, and played golf and bridge. Pete also served on the board of the Marco Men’s Club for several years and was a member of St. Marks Episcopal Church on the island. During their retirement, he and Marion traveled to Europe several tunes and spent many happy days cruising on commercial liners in the Caribbean. Some of these trips were with small groups and others were just as a couple. In 2000, they celebrated their 50th anniversary by flying to Vancouver and boarding a liner to sail down the West Coast, through the Panama Canal, and finally to Puerto Rico a memorable trip.

After moving to Florida, Marion began writing a column on cooking for the local paper Occasionally, Pete also wrote a column. He was a superb and innovative cook and assumed at least half of the kitchen duties later in life. For a year, he wrote a humorous column for the same paper, "My Nickel’s Worth," in which he poked gentle fun at local politicians, tourists, and other tempting targets.

When computers entered his life, he determined to master them and in time acquired enough expertise to untangle Marion's frequent computer problems and help friends with their own computers. He never lost his love of bridge and history and acquired a large library of historical books and atlases along the way.

Pete once said to his children, "Don’t miss me too much when I'm gone I've had a good run for my money and done almost everything I ever wanted to do." It is a fitting tribute to a much loved man who enjoyed life to the limit and made the same thing possible for the people around him.

- His wife