Saturday, July 21, 2012

This Week in SigEp Patriot History, 16 – 22 JUL


20 JUL 1963 – On this day in U.S. Air Force history, during Operation FARM GATE, Captain Warren  Tomsett, under hostile fire, flew his C-47 of the 1st Air Commando Wing to evacuate wounded soldiers from Loc Ninth, Laos. Captain Tomsett and his crew of five Airmen later received the Mackay Trophy for 1963. Were any of those wounded soldiers SigEp Patriots? According to the archives of the SigEp Patriots Project (SPP), one SigEp Patriot has been presented the Mackay Trophy, but is he the only one? SPP will continue to seek the answer to these and other questions pertaining to the patriotic service of our brothers.

This Week in SigEp Patriot History:

16 JUL 1918
World War I Veteran and NY Alpha Brother Lieutenant Henry Q. Griffin, U.S. Army / American Expeditionary Forces (A.E.F.) was killed in action and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his service on this day near St. Agnan, France.

U.S. War Department General Order Number 99 (1918):
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Second Lieutenant (Infantry) Harry Q. Griffin, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action while serving with 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Division, A.E.F., on Hill 200, near St. Agnan, France, 16 JUL 1918. When the first attack on Hill 200 was made by American troops on 16 JUL 1918, Second Lieutenant Griffin led his platoon to the most advanced point reached by any detachment and was killed when within 20 yards of an enemy machine-gun emplacement.”

Brother Griffin is gone, and SPP pledges that he will never be forgotten.

19 JUL 1918
World War I Veteran and First Secretary of IL Alpha First Lieutenant Louis Irving Phillis, U.S. Army Aviation Corps was killed on this day at Tours, France. New information obtained by SPP states Brother Phillis was killed in an accident versus in combat as previously reported.

Brother Phillis was reportedly the first secretary of IL Alpha and the first chapter brother to cross “the Atlantic to ‘fight the Kaiser’”. Unfortunately, he was also the first IL Alpha man to be killed in World War I. At the time of his death, Brother Phillis was serving in the same unit – the 95th Aero Squadron – as
Quentin Roosevelt, the son of Former President Theodore Roosevelt.

Respect can be paid to Brother Phillis at Union Cemetery, Morrisonville, New York. He is gone, and SPP pledges he will always be remembered.
16 JUL 1961
World War I Veteran, Iowa State Representative, U.S. Congressman (Iowa) and PA Xi Brother First Lieutenant Paul Harvey Cunningham, U.S. Army / American Expeditionary Force died on this day in Brainerd, Minnesota.

Born on a farm in Indiana County, near Kent, Pennsylvania, 15 JUN 1890, Paul attended public schools, and graduated from State Teachers College in Indiana, PA (now Indiana University of Pennsylvania). Brother Cunningham continued his education at the University of Michigan, and after receiving his law degree was admitted to the bar in 1915.

During the First World War, Brother Cunningham served as a first lieutenant of Infantry, 1917-1919. After the war he moved to Des Moines, IA, and the next year joined the Iowa National Guard where he served until 1923.

Paul was elected to the Iowa State House of Representatives in 1933 and served there for four years. In 1941, he was elected to the Seventy-seventh Congress, and was re-elected to the eight succeeding Congresses. In 1959, Paul resumed his practice of law.

He was a member of the American Legion, Freemasons, Moose, and Odd Fellows.

Respect can be paid to Brother Cunningham at Masonic Cemetery, Des Moines, Iowa. While he is gone, SPP pledges that Paul and his service to the Nation will never be forgotten.

16 JUL 1966
On this day, Vietnam Veteran and PA Eta Brother Second Lieutenant Gene “Smedley” McMullen, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve was killed in action in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam by Viet Cong counter battery fire.

Gene was born 13 DEC 1942 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. That year, his father enlisted in the Marine Corps. At Penn State, Brother McMullen played on the varsity football team, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and enrolled in the NROTC and their PLC (Platoon Leaders Course) as he prepared to enter the Marine Corps. He trained at Quantico, Virginia his freshman, sophomore and junior years. 

During the summer of 1965, Brother McMullen entered Basic School at Quantico. While there he was a member of the 1965 Quantico football team. After graduation he chose artillery and was sent to Fort Sill, OK and then on to Camp Pendelton. In May 1966, he was sent to Vietnam where he was assigned to the 12th Marine Regiment as a Forward Observer.

Brother McMullen was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery. He is remembered on Panel 09E, Line 29 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, and will always be remembered by the SigEp Patriots Project.

16 JUL 1973
U.S Navy World War II Veteran, Governor (Colorado) and CO Beta Brother John Arthur Love resigned the Colorado governorship on this day after 10 years of service to become the nation's first director of the Office of Energy Policy for president Richard M. Nixon.

New Information
While researching for this edition of “This Week in SigEp Patriots History” SPP discovered that U.S. Marine Corps World War II and Korean War Veteran and VT Alpha Brother Lieutenant Commander Walter A. Sonnenberg, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve (Retired) died on 14 JUL 2007 versus 17 JUL 2007 as previously reported.

In previous editions of “This Week” information posted by Norwich University was used to remember Walter, his life and his passing. However, an SPP review of the Veterans Administration archives and a confirmation by an independent source revealed the correct day, and we wanted to set the record straight.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Walter was a combat Marine officer in World War II from 1942 to 1946, and was recalled for two years of service in the Korean War. He later joined the United States Coast Guard Reserve for four years and retired as a Lieutenant Commander. At Norwich, in addition to SigEp, Walter was a member of Epsilon Tau Sigma and the basketball team. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics.

After graduation, he lived in Northfield and worked for the Vermont Department of Public Safety. Brother Sonnenberg continued his career, working with Scott Paper Company, a major paper products firm, working in Pennsylvania and Ohio. He then opened his own insurance and real estate office in Northfield before joining M.I.T. in 1956 as Assistant Accounting Officer. In addition to his M.I.T. duties as budget supervisor and contract negotiator, Walter was fiscal officer for the institute’s $66,000,000 fund drive.

Walter and his wife moved to Sarasota in 1964, and in JUN of that year he was appointed Dean of Administration of New College. In SEP 1965, they moved to Washington, DC, where Brother Sonnenberg became the business manager of the American Physiological Society from which he retired in MAR 1986 and returned to Sarasota.

Respect can be paid to Brother Sonnenberg at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida. While he is gone, SPP pledges that Walter and his service to the Nation will never be forgotten.

U.S. Navy Veteran and NC Zeta Brother Barnie Paul Trimble of Utopia, Texas passed away 18 JUN 2012. Barnie served in the Navy from 1946-1948.
– Vietnam War Veteran and GA Epsilon Founding Father First Lieutenant Herbert Anderson “Andy” Wall, Jr., U.S. Air Force passed away 13 JUL 2012 in Statesboro, GA at the age of 68 after a courageous battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
U.S. Air Force Veteran and AL Beta Brother Alfred Joseph Saliba passed away at home in the city of his birth, Dothan, Alabama 15 JUL 2012.
– Operation ENDURING FREEDOM Veteran CT Alpha Brother Sergeant Kenneth Saavedra, U.S. Army & National Guard (Connecticut) passed away 15 JUL 2012 in Waterbury, Connecticut.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and chapter brothers of SigEp Patriots Trimble, Wall, Saliba, and Saavedra. They are gone but will never be forgotten.

* Congratulations to AL Zeta Brother Cadet Daven Bailey (ROTC) on his recent graduation from LDAC.
* Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM Veteran IN Zeta Brother Lieutenant Troy Hanson, U.S. Navy Reserve currently serving in the Horn of Africa learned yesterday that he has been selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander. Congratulations!

Have great news ? SPP would love to share it with everyone! Just send an email to

* 31! SPP is now working with 31 points of contact around the country. With the interest from brothers from NY Phi, VA Alpha, VA Pi, and WI Beta, SPP is now working with more than 12% of the Sigma Phi Epsilon chapters/AVCs (according to data posted on Write to if your chapter would like to be involved with SPP.
*Closing in on 500! With the addition of TX Gamma Brother and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Veteran Staff Sergeant John Hays, U.S. Marine Corps, MT Alpha Brother and Navy Seabee J.T. Yancy, and MO Eta Brother Lieutenant Colonel Troy Wisdom, U.S. Army, SigEps Who Serve – the official SPP Facebook group – now numbers 481 brothers. To join other brothers-in-arms go to All that is required is your military and home chapter affiliation.

Fraternally and Very Respectfully,

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

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