Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This (past) Week in SigEp Patriot History, 16 - 22 JAN

This Week in SigEp Patriot History, 16 – 22 JAN
22 JAN 1898U.S. Army World War I Veteran, State of Nebraska Supreme Court Justice, Alternate Delegate to the 1936 Democratic National Convention and SigEp Brother Adolph Eilert Wenke was born in Pender, Nebraska on this date.

16 JAN 1936
World War I Veteran and Ace, Founder of the Alabama Air National Guard and NY Beta Brother Major James “Jimmie” Armand Meissner, U.S. Army Air Service died on this date in Birmingham, Alabama.

The son of a U.S. Steel board member, he was born on 30 JUL 1896 in Novia Scotia, Canada. After high school, Jimmie enrolled at Cornell University. There he majored in engineering, and was a Private First Class in the Cadet Corps.

On 06 APR 1917, President Woodrow Wilson requested a declaration of war against Germany from Congress, and less than two months later, Brother Meissner dropped out of Cornell, and enlisted in the Army Signal Service (the branch of the Army then tasked with flying) as a Private First Class.

His military career moved quickly. In July, he entered the U.S. Army School of Military Aeronautics, but about a week in to pilot training Private First Class Meissner boarded a ship for France where he would continue his training. After completing his flight training, Brother Meissner was commissioned a First Lieutenant, and three months later his military career would take a life changing turn.

Lieutenant Meissner reported to the 94th Pursuit Squadron on 08 MAR 1918. Known as the “Hat in the Ring Squadron”, the 94th was the first entirely American unit to fly a fighter patrol. Two days before Meissner arrived at the unit, another young Lieutenant by the name of Eddie Rickenbacker reported to the 94th. Lieutenant Rickenbacker would go on to be the highest scoring American ace of the war, shooting down a grand total of twenty-six enemy aircraft.

On 02 MAY 1918, Brother Meissner won his first aerial kill. This action earned him his first of two Distinguished Service Crosses, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Army after the Medal of Honor. Two weeks later the French showed their appreciation for his actions on this mission by awarding him their medal for bravery, the Croix de Guerre.

Recognized as a leader, Jimmie was appointed commander of the 147th Aero Squadron in July, and scored four more victories while commanding the 147th.

After the Great War ended in Europe, Brother Miessner returned to the U.S. and was discharged from the Army on 25 MAR 1919, having reached the rank of Major just five months before at the age of 22. Striving for success, Jimmie stayed busy returning to Cornell University, earning his Masters Degree, and moving to Birmingham, Alabama to begin working at a rail mill. Even with all that, before the year was out he also co-created the Birmingham Flying Club.

However, simply starting a flying club was not enough, for Jimmie wanted to continue to serve his country and his new state. So shortly after forming the club, our hero brother set out to have the flying club officially recognized by the federal government as an air unit of the National Guard.

As you can imagine, the process of gaining federal recognition for the club was not easy. The first state to establish an air arm of its National Guard was New York, and that was only four years earlier. National Guard units at the turn of the twentieth century were not looked upon favorably due in large part to their involvement in the breaking up of strikes and labor disputes. And then there was Congress. The federal government was concerned that once they provided funds and aircraft to the Guard the unit it would then use the new resources for commercial gain.

After more than two-years of diligent commitment, the War Department organized the 135th Observation Squadron on 21 JAN 1922, and allotted it to the State of Alabama. Placing it under the command of Major James Meissner, the new observation squadron became the first Air National Guard unit in Alabama and only the seventh such unit in the United States.

When the father of the Alabama Air National Guard died from pneumonia, the city held a memorial service including a flyover by the planes of the unit. Additionally, Brother Meissner’s old friend and brother in arms, Eddie Rickenbacker, came to Birmingham to be an honorary pall-bearer for his former wingman. Four months later, our brother’s ashes were buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

The results of his hard work and determination continue to be recognized in the growth and changes to the unit he helped establish. After several designations and mission changes, the now 106th Air Refueling Squadron of the 117th Air Refueling Wing continues missions to this day.

During the 2011 Veterans Day and Wreaths Across America ceremonies, we stopped by Brother Meissner’s gravesite to pay our respects. You can do so at Section 2 Site 4791 ES.

16 JAN 1946
On this date, U.S. Marine Corps World War I Veteran, Governor (Virginia) and Congressman SigEp Brother William Munford Tuck began his term in office as Governor of Virginia (16 JAN 1946 – 28 JAN 1950).

21 JAN 2002U.S Navy World War II Veteran, Delegate to the 1964 Republican National Convention, Governor (Colorado) and CO Beta Brother John Arthur Love died on this date in Colorado.

Born on a farm near Gibson City, Illinois on 29 NOV 1916, his family moved to Colorado Springs five years later. John attended Denver University where he became editor of the student newspaper, The Clarion, during his senior year. He was also elected president of the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Press Association. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938, and received his LLB from Denver University Law School in 1941 and passed the Colorado Bar in the same year.

World War II temporarily interrupted Brother Love’s professional law career. He enlisted in the Navy’s Aviation Cadet Program and served as a U.S. Navy pilot, for which he was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Following the war, he opened a law firm in Colorado Springs.

Colorado politics were in a state of flux in 1962 when John decided to run for an office. However, his bid to become El Paso County Republican Chair failed by one vote. Shortly after this unsuccessful attempt, he decided to run for governor so that he could at least make his name more well-known in the political arena. Surprisingly, he won the primary battle against the longtime legislator and Speaker of the House. Due to the flux of in Colorado politics, the winds of change, the unity of the Colorado Republic Party, and Love’s moderate political positions, lack of a particular cause or agenda, and no past record to defend, Brother Love beat the incumbent, and became the 36th Governor of Colorado. He would be the first such governor to be elected to three terms (1963 to 1973).

During his tenure, Governor Love was able to influence the passage of many bills including increased state support for public schools and universities, and increased scholarships and tuition waivers for college students despite the fact that during his first term he supported a raise in college tuition. During his last term Colorado set a nation-wide precedence by passing the Sunshine Law which opened government meetings to the public and set disclosure requirements.

During one of the most contentious decades in our history because of the Viet Nam War and civil rights disparities in the 1960s, Love was known for his moderation. He was influential in keeping the state relatively undivided and continually prosperous. He resigned the governorship in 1973 to become the nation's first director of the Office of Energy Policy for President Richard M. Nixon but resigned this post after five months due to much political bickering and feeling like he did not have enough to do. The upheaval of the Watergate scandal and the subsequent resignation of Nixon possibly influenced his decision to return to the private sector where he took a position on the board of directors for the concrete and potash maker, Ideal Basic Industries. He would later become the CEO of the firm while remaining counsel to the Denver law firm of Davis, Graham & Stubbs, and in addition taught history at the University of Northern Colorado.

Upon his death, John was cremated, and the location of his ashes is unknown. To learn more about Brother Love’s service as Governor of Colorado you can go to the Colorado State Archives.

19 JAN 2004U.S. Army World War II Veteran VA Alpha Brother Willie Elwood Cross passed away on this date in Richmond, Virginia.

During WWII, Willie served with the U.S. Army's Ninth Infantry Division and saw action in the Ardennes Forest Campaign, Battle of the Bulge. In the Rhineland Campaign, he was in the first Allied Infantry Division across the Rhine River at the Remagen Bridge Battle, receiving the Bronze Star Medal with his unit in Germany. He also served in Headquarters, United States Strategic Bombing Survey Group A.C. in London, England for six months after the European War was over before being discharged.

Willie served 16 years as a building official for the City of Richmond. Prior to working with the city, he was president and part owner of W.L. Cross & Son, Inc., a masonry contracting company, and was secretary on the board of directors of E. T. Mankin, Inc., a brick manufacturing firm.

Brother Cross was an artist best known for his color drawings and paintings of buildings and surrounding landscapes and seascapes. He was an associate with the former Cross Grist Mill, Ashland, VA, now home, studio and Cross Mill Art Gallery, owned by Nancy Witt, a nationally known fine arts artist and painter. He was a past president of the Mason Contractors Association of Richmond, a 45-year member of the Tuckahoe Lions Club, member of Tuckahoe Artist Association, the Boatwright Alumni Society, a member of the American Legion Post 361 and the Disabled American Veterans, a lifetime member of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, serving as a Sunday school teacher and for 50 years a deacon and administrative board member.

Respect can be paid to Brother Cross at the Greenwood Memorial Gardens in Richmond.

22 JAN 2008
The interment with full military honors of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Veteran and TN Theta Brother Staff Sergeant Jonathan Kilian Dozier, U.S. Army took place on this date in Arlington National Cemetery. Brother Dozier was killed when an improvised explosive device detonated during combat operations in Sinsil, Iraq on 09 JAN 2008.

Brother Dozier was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Vilseck, Germany.

Besides his parents, Jonathan is survived by his daughter, Emma Grace Dozier. Memorial contributions may be made to the Saving Grace Memorial Fund, for the future needs of Emma Grace Dozier, C/O any Bank of Hampton Roads branch, or by mail, 239 S. Battlefield Blvd., Chesapeake, VA 23322.

Several of us paid our respects to Brother Dozier on Veterans Day and during the Wreaths Across America events in 2011 at Section 60 Site 8727.

17 JAN 2010
U.S. Army World War II Veteran NC Delta Brother Phillip Adger Williams died in Hilton Head, South Carolina on this date. Brother Williams retired as senior vice president and actuary for Travelers Insurance Co. He served as president of the American Academy of Actuaries. Following high school, he joined the Merchant Marine and then served in the Army in WWII. At UNC he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

* NC Mu Brother and Lieutenant Junior Grade Dave Depman, U.S. Navy was pinned as a Naval Aviator on 28 DEC 2011.
* TX Beta Brother Cory Sockwell stated on his Facebook page on Sunday that he was promoted to Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.
* On 08 JAN, KS Beta Brother Matt Cavanaugh was promoted to First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Congratulations to all of our Brothers on their hard work and noteworthy accomplishments.

* SPP is honored to acknowledge that since the last edition of “This Week” the following SigEp Patriots have joined the SigEps Who Serve Facebook group – the official SPP Facebook group:
Rich Dolan, Kurt Starin, Skyler Sonnet, Luke Martin Evancoe, Chris Childs, Chase Winsor and Shemol Ahmed. If you are a Brother who serves/served, go to http://www.facebook.com/groups/sigepswhoserve to join more than 420 of your brothers-in-arms. You will be asked your home chapter and military affiliation before being confirmed for membership.

* Welcome aboard to MI Beta Brother Lucas Freudenburg, the 15th SPP point of contact (POC)! Lucas is a Captain and C-21 pilot serving honorably in the U.S. Air Force, and he has stepped forward during the past week to serve as the MI Beta SPP POC. Interested in being a chapter representative / point of contact? Undergrads and alumnus are welcome to serve as POCs, just send an email to sigepswhoserve@gmail.com.

Fraternally and Respectfully,

Brother Ed Jones, NY Eta ‘96
Chief Petty Officer, U.S. Navy Reserve
Founder, SigEp Patriots Project
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