Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Week in SigEp Patriot History, 19 – 25 MAR


Oops, we missed our one week format last week by using an 8-day period. This week we are back on track. Also, with the number of brothers who serve/served quickly approaching 1,600 brothers, a format change was necessary with regard to the recognition of birth dates in this work. Let me know what you think.

Finally, it has been expressed by a few very humble brothers that they “road a desk” or didn’t do anything heroic during their military service, and I say that in order for some to go in to harm’s way, many, many individuals have to drive desks…and boats, planes and trucks.

In my humble opinion, every man and woman who bravely raises their hand solemnly swearing to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” bearing “true faith and allegiance to the same” and doing so knowing that fulfilling that oath may result in the loss of their life is a hero, and very worthy of being remembered and honored.

Fraternally and Respectfully,

A Desk Driver and OIF & OEF Veteran

21 MAR 1969
Vietnam War Veteran and POW, SigEp Citation Recipient and KS Beta Brother Brigadier General James Downs Latham, U.S. Air Force (Retired) began his active duty career on this date.

24 MAR 1969
On this date, U.S. Navy World War I Veteran, U.S. Army World War II, KS Gamma Renaissance Brother and Brigadier General Arthur Ellsworth Stoddard, U.S. Army Reserve passed away in Ogden, Utah.

Art was a thoroughly a self-made man. Born at Auburn, Nebraska on 28 JUL 1895, he started his railroad career as a shop apprentice with the Frisco Lines in 1915 at Springfield, MO, and entered the service of the Union Pacific the next year as a student station helper.

About the time Americans began to fire shots in World War I, Art looked away from railroad telegraphy since the Navy needed dot-and-dash experts even more urgently. He became a radio operator on transport ships plying between the United States and France. At the close of World War I he was assigned to duty in South America until release from his enlistment permitted him to return to railroading.

In World War II, the Transportation Corps called. With the rank of colonel Brother Stoddard was immediately sent to Iran to make a study of the railroads of that country with a view of increasing the tonnage to the Red Army. After a year in the Middle East, he returned to the United States and then moved to England as Assistant Director General of the G-4 Division of Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Forces. Following the invasion of Europe, he was made general manager of the First Military Railway Service in France and was relieved from active duty early in 1946, returning to the Union Pacific (UP).

When not serving his country, Art worked his way up through positions of telegrapher, train dispatcher, trainmaster, assistant superintendent, superintendent, assistant general manager, general manager, and vice-president. He was elected to the UP presidency on 01 MAR 1949.

On 11 MAR 1949, he was appointed Brigadier General in the Officers Reserve Corps of the Army of the United States, and was appointed Deputy Director General of General Headquarters, Military Railway Service. On 15 APR 1951, he assumed command of General Headquarters, Military Railway Service, as Director General.

Art was initiated by the University of Kansas chapter on 27 OCT 1951.

Respects can be paid to Brother Stoddard at Pacific View Memorial Park in Corona del Mar, California.

20 MAR 1993
On this date, AZ Beta Brother and (then) Captain Alan Mark Gemmill, U.S. Navy assumed command of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Eisenhower (CVN-69). Brother Gemmill later retired at the rank of rear admiral.

21 MAR 2008
On this date, Korean War Veteran and VA Eta Brother Corporal Houston Raleigh Wood, Jr., U.S. Army died in Vero Beach, Florida. Brother Wood served as a paratrooper during the Korean War, and later worked for Weirton Steel for 20 years. Houston was the company’s director of environmental control and governmental affairs when he retired in 1988. He served on the boards of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the West Virginia Manufacturers Association

Respect can be paid to Brother Wood at the Crestlawn Cemetery in Vero Beach, FL.

23 MAR 2010
World War II Veteran, MO Gamma Founding Father and first Chapter President Ensign Don Wheeler Detjen, U.S. Navy died on this date at his home in Kentucky. Don was born in Webster Groves, Missouri on 31 OCT 1925, and he joined the Navy's V-12 Program after graduating from high school. At Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy, now University Missouri Rolla, he was instrumental in starting the Missouri Gamma Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon and was its first president.

His career was with Ashland Inc, where he was involved in both engineering and operations for Valvoline. He had responsibility for the design, construction and operation of what became 20 plants in the U.S. and Canada. He held the title of VP Operations and Engineering with Valvoline before his retirement in 1991. As a sports enthusiast, he coached baseball as well as played in an Industrial league in Huntington, WV. He enjoyed golf, bowling, long distance running, and was a championship racquetball player. He was president of the Jaycees in Ashland, KY where he also served on the board of the YMCA. After moving to Lexington in 1980, he was on the board of the Central Kentucky Senior Men's Golf Association for several years.

Respect can be paid to Brother Wheeler at the Camp Nelson National Cemetery, Nicholasville, KY.

It is with sadness and regret that we recognize the passing of the following SigEp Patriots and American heros:
* U.S. Army Air Corps World War II Veteran and VA Eta President James Ritter Phillips passed away on 15 MAR at his home in La Jolla, California, after a long battle with cancer.
* World War II Veteran and PA Xi Brother Staff Sergeant Max Afanesko, U.S. Army, 88, of West Deer Township, Pennsylvania passed from this life 16 MAR, surrounded by his family at his residence.
* U.S. Army Korean War Veteran and IA Beta Brother Harold “Dusty” Rhodes of Duncombe, Iowa passed away 18 MAR with his wife and three children at his bedside at Friendship Haven. He was 82 years.
* U.S. Air Force Vietnam Veteran and OH Zeta Brother Michael Van Tassel passed away 18 MAR in Southbury, CT at the age of 67.
* Tennessee National Guard Korean War Veteran and TN Alpha Brother James A. “Jim” Wilkerson passed away 19 MAR 2012.

19 MAR 1914 – World War II Veteran and TN Alpha Brother Colonel R. Theodore “Ted” Davis, U.S. Army Reserve (Retired) was born on this date in Southport, NC.
20 MAR 1918 – U.S. Navy World War II Veteran WA Beta Brother Theodore Otto “Ted” Schimanski was born on this date in Spokane, Washington.
23 MAR 1933 – On this date, U.S. Army Korean War Veteran NC Theta Brother Allan Robert La Torre was born in Charleston, South Carolina.
23 MAR 1972 – Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Veteran and IA Delta Brother Major Raymond Vincent Sumner.
21 MAR 1976 – FL Theta Brother Lieutenant Commander Christopher James Sacra, U.S. Navy.
20 MAR 1980 – Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Veteran and NY Chi Brother Captain Seth Gordon Pierce, U.S. Army.
25 MAR – ROTC Cadet and WI Zeta Brother Joel Meller.

Happy Birthday Brothers! Did we miss you? If so, it is because we don’t know your birthday. Send an email to if you wish to allow us the honor of celebrating your day.

* Speaking of birthdays, with the birth of their first child, U.S. Navy Veteran and NY Eta Brother George Duthie and his wife, Stephanie, are now parents.
* U.S. Army Veteran and NE Beta Brother Kurt Kline and his wife welcomed their second daughter, Lucy, in to the world. On the wall of his Facebook page, Kurt wrote, “With 3 ladies, my future will probably be void of hot showers.”
* Earlier this month, OH Sigma Brother Ensign Brad Haines,U.S. Navy completed his first marathon in 4 hours and 12 minutes.
* Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Veteran and AL Theta Brother Sergeant First Class Wendell Thompson, Army National Guard (Alabama) graduated at the top of his class at the First Sergeant Academy at Fort Indian Town Gap, Pennsylvania.

Thank you for allowing us to celebration your recent blessings and accomplishments, and SPP sends hearty congratulations your way!

Welcome to TX Delta Brother and Specialist Jose Pedraza, Army National Guard (Texas) and CT Epsilon Brother Ben Jerome-Lee, the 23rd and 24th SPP chapter points of contact, respectively! SPP looks forward to working with anyone interested in serving as a POC. Just write to

* 1,558!
Since the last installment of “This Week” our archives have grown by more than 170 SigEp Patriots, and we are now honored to remember more than 1,500 brothers who serve/served.

* 450! The SigEp Patriots Project official Facebook page – SigEps Who Serve (SWS) – reached 450 brothers-in-arms and moved past that milestone on the same day – today! SPP added five SigEp Patriots since last week, and we would like to welcome Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM Veteran and NC Nu Brother Sergeant Brannon Williams, U.S. Army; Army National Guardsman (Missouri) and MO Kappa Brother Sam Sheffield; Army National Guardsman (Texas) and TX Theta Brother Ryan Lee Torres; Operation ENDURING FREEDOM Veteran and FL Iota Brother Specialist Adam Pietri, U.S. Army, and Air National Guard Vietnam War Veteran and former District 31 district governor AR Alpha Brother John W. Ramsey, Jr.

To join SWS, go to Not on Facebook? Join the SPP listserve by sending an email to For both, you will be asked to provide your military affiliation and home chapter.

Fraternally and Respectfully,

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