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