John Lonergan Weaver

NO. 17694  •  

Died 6 September 1952 in Korea (KIA), aged 25 years.
Interment: West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York.

John Weaver and I were classmates at the Academy and in the same company (F­1); later, we roomed together as bachelors at Fort Bragg and Fort Benning, and I grew to know him even better - as a fellow officer and a true friend.

Twenty-five years were all that were given to John before he was killed in action in Korea on 6 September 1952. Such a brief lifespan does not provide opportunities for homeric achievements, but the promise of what might have been was evident to those who knew him.

How best to describe John? Whenever I hear West Point's motto proclaimed, John comes to mind. He truly lived by the words "Duty, Honor, Country." This image of John was evident to others as well. A friend who knew him in high school and at West Point wrote, "My strongest recollection of him is his sense of personal responsibility - his sense of duty. John didn't talk much; he just did, and did well, and without question." Other images are still vivid in my memory. John, the staunch Catholic, living his faith quietly but with conviction; his unwillingness to compromise his principies or cut corners, his absolute integrity. An incident from long ago comes to mind and was so characteristic of John. Soon after being assigned to our first platoons, we were to report 100% completion of certain mandatory training. Under the circumstances at that time, this was impossible to accomplish, so the accepted practice was to tender a false report. John's refusal to do so gave me the will to follow his lead.

It would be wrong, however, if one were to get the impression John was aloof and humorless or rigid and unbending, or overzealous and self-righteous. Not so. He was a spirited, funloving, personable fellow with a quick, dry wit. He was highly regarded not only by his friends but by his associates. A fellow officer who served with him remembered, "John was one of the few persons I have known who had the admiration of all his superiors, associates and subordinates. Everyone who knew him respected him for his adherence to his high standards and ideals."

John was destined for West Point and the Army. His father was a Regular Army officer. He grew up in a military environment. Just prior to entering the Military Academy, he lived in wartime San Antonio, Texas. A number of his friends there – “Army Brats” like himself – would later attend the Point with him. His older sister Mary Jo married a graduate of the Class of 1943. His older brother Bud preceded him at West Point, graduating in 1945, and his younger brother Tom graduated in 1955.

In San Antonio, John attended Central Catholic High School, where he was "Mr. Everything." He captained the varsity football team and was appointed cadet colonel of the ROTC unit his senior year. The school yearbook states, "Cadet Colonel John Weaver, military leader and outstanding athlete. As head of Central's military organization, he is in charge of four-fifths of the student body." His leadership was evident even at this stage of his life.

Following his graduation from high school and a year at Sullivan's Preparatory School, John gained a presidential appointment and entered West Point in July 1946. As a cadet, he was an achiever in all things that were important to him. He attained the rank of cadet sergeant in the Corps, was a faithful member of the Catholic Chapel squad and was active in athletics. He played plebe football and was a member of the varsity lacrosse squad.

John loved West Point. He gained much intellectually and professionalIy during his four years there. He was also strengthened and inspired by the tradition of the institution and those associated with it. Upon reflecting on his West Point experience, he wrote down his thoughts as he approached graduation. He made the point, with sincere eloquence, that he drew inspiration from the officers serving as instructors and staff. He had great respect for the example they set and the standards and ideals by which they lived.

Upon graduation, John went through the rigors of airborne training and was assigned as a platoon leader in the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. This regiment soon moved from Fort Bragg to Fort Benning to assume the role of "School Troops" when the Third Division departed for Korea. In the summer of 1951 he was assigned to the reactivated 508th Airborne Infantry Regiment. John arrived in Korea in July 1952 and was assigned as a platoon leader in Company, B, 27th Infantry, 25th Division. By the time he came on line with the regiment, the fighting had settled into attacks and counterattacks to seize key terrain. Typical of this fighting was the enemy's assault on an outpost called "Sandbag Castle" on the night of 6 September. The position was critical, as it provided clear observation for the occupier into the "Punch Bowl" area. The assault was preceded by a tremendous barrage of mortar and artillery fire into the 27th Infantry positions, particularly severe in the 1st Battalion sector. Company A, occupying the "Castle" was surprised and overrun during the night. For the remainder of the night and well into the next day, the battle continued for control of the ridge line where the “Castle” was situated. Every company in the 1st Battalion was engaged in the fight. It was into this inferno that John led his platoon in a counterattack. Later accounts of the battle described it as being vicious, savage and, at times, hand-to-hand. Casualities were high. A member of the staff later wrote, "The only thing that dulled the brunt of their (Chinese) assault and finally stopped it was men like John who bought time with their lives... his final actions were an inspiration to the men around him ......”

To close the final chapter of his life by writing "John made the supreme sacrifice" would overlook the significance of his life. Though he stayed the course but briefly, John epitomized all that is noble and good in mankind. His legacy is the inspiration gained from the exemplary way he lived his life day-­by-day  -  the influence for good that his memory exerts on all whose lives he touched. John, we salute you as you stand tall and straight in the ghostly ranks of the "Long Gray Line."

- A classmate and a brother