Sunday, June 23, 2013

This Week in SigEp Patriot History, 17 – 23 JUN


We are at 3,884 and counting! Those of us at the SigEp Patriots Project (SPP) may be crazy, but one of our goals is to learn at least the name of every brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon that ever served in uniform. We realize this is a daunting task – in addition to gathering stories of brothers’ accomplishments, but our diligence is reinforced by the amazing feats we learn daily of patriotic brothers, and we hope that by sharing them they will inspire you as well. Perhaps some of you will consider helping us, and we look forward to hearing from you.

21 JUN 1918
On this date, OH Gamma Brother Captain Robert Lester Tavenner, U.S. Army began his World War I service with the 37th Division, American Expeditionary Force, and would see action in France & Belgium before being discharged.

18 JUN 1940
KY Epsilon Brother Joseph Fry Odle, Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on this date and later served in the pacific theater, including the Battle of Solomon Islands.

17 JUN 1942
VA Alpha Brother John Beverley Blanton, Jr. enlisted in the Army on this date.

19 JUN 1942
On this date, Elmo Russell Zumwalt, Jr. graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned an Ensign. He went on to serve in World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars in a notable career that included being appointed the youngest U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). As the 19th CNO, Admiral Zumwalt reformed U.S. Navy personnel policies in an effort to improve enlisted life and ease racial tensions. He was initiated a renaissance brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon on 10 APR 1985 – 11 years after his retirement from the Navy.
IA Gamma Brother
William L. Peters, Jr.
KIA 21 JUN 1969 Vietnam

21 JUN 1969
On this date, Vietnam War Veteran and IA Gamma Brother First Lieutenant William Lee Peters, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps Reserve made the ultimate sacrifice when his helicopter crashed while under enemy gunfire during operations in Quang Nam Province, Vietnam. Brother Peters was a pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-FIVE (HMM-165), Marine Aircraft Group SIXTEEN (MAG-16), First Marine Aircraft Wing (1ST MAW).

In separation actions, First Lieutenant Peters was awarded the Navy Cross (one of only two SigEp Patriots known to have been awarded the second highest military decoration for valor bestowed to a member of the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps for extraordinary heroism in combat) and a Silver Star (the third highest military decoration for valor that can be awarded to any person serving in any capacity with the United States Armed Forces).

Brother Peters is honored on The Wall – the Vietnam Veterans Memorial – on Panel 22W Line 107.

Respect can be paid to Brother Peters at Elmwood Cemetery, De Witt, Iowa.

21 JUN 2001
U.S. Merchant Marine World War II Veteran and MT Alpha Brother Carroll O’Connor died on this date in Culver City, California of heart failure in Culver City, California. Born John Carroll O’Connor in 1924, he enlisted in the Merchant Marines after high school, and worked on ships transiting the Atlantic Ocean between the U.S. and Europe.

After the war, he enrolled at the University of Montana to study English. While there, Brother O’Connor became interested in theater. He moved to Ireland where he continued his theatrical studies at the National University of Ireland, and worked in theater in Europe until 1954 when he returned to the U.S. His attempts to land on Broadway failed and he taught high school until 1958. That year, Carroll landed an Off-Broadway production, and followed that with a Broadway production that was directed by Burgess Meredith. At the same time, he was getting attention on TV.

Brother O’Connor auditioned for the role of The Skipper on “Gilligan's Island”, and was considered for the role of Dr. Zachary Smith on the series “Lost in Space”. During the 1960’s, he appeared in quite a few movies including “In Harm's Way”, “The Devil's Brigade”, and my favorite - “Kelly's Heroes”. A pilot for the TV show “Those Were The Days” was first shot in 1968 based on the English hit, “Till Death Do Us Part”, but was rejected by the networks. In 1971, it was re-shot and re-cast as “All in the Family” and the rest is history. Archie Bunker, Carroll's character on the show, was ranked #24 in TV Guide's list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time”.

From 1993 to 1997, Brother O’Connor was a spokesperson for Partnership for a Drug Free America, and he was instrumental in the passage of the Drug Dealers Civil Liability Act in California. The Act states that citizens can sue drug dealers whom they feel are responsible for the drug-related deaths of family members. The Act came about as a result of his son's drug-related suicide.

Carroll passed away on the same day as blues legend John Lee Hooker. Coincidentally, their stars are right next to one another on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Respect can be paid to Brother O’Connor at Westwood Memorial Park, Los Angeles, CA.

21 JUN 2003
U.S. Veteran and NY Beta Brother George O. Gray died on this date. Respect can be paid to Brother Gray at Rose Cemetery in Rose, NY.

18 JUN 2005
GA Delta Brother
Noah Harris
KIA 18 JUN 2005 Iraq
On this date, we lost Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Veteran and GA Delta Brother First Lieutenant Noah Harris, U.S. Army in Baqubah, Iraq to injuries sustained the previous day in Buritz, Iraq while serving as a platoon leader when his mounted patrol was attacked by enemy forces using rocket-propelled grenades. Brother Harris was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was posthumously promoted to first lieutenant and was 23 years old.

Noah’s father, Rick Harris of Ellijay, GA, said his son joined the Army after the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks while attending University of Georgia (UGA), telling his father that people “must serve some higher purpose than yourself in life.”

Noah enjoyed giving stuffed animals and soccer balls to Iraqi children. He was known for having bullets in one pocket, Beanie Babies in the other. Members of his unit stated that for every bullet Noah shot from his weapon, he must have handed out 10 Beanie Babies. To raise morale in his unit, he organized a pen pal program that paired his fellow soldiers with UGA students.

A 1999 graduate of Gilmer High School in Ellijay, he was a leader both as a scholar and an athlete. He was captain and most valuable player of the high school's football team, won a state individual wrestling title, and later named the state’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1999. He was honored as a scholar athlete during the 1999 Peach Bowl and was an Honor Bar Thespian as an actor in the school theater club. At UGA, in addition to SigEp, Brother Harris was an active volunteer with Watch Dawgs, a student organization dedicated to preventing alcohol-related accidents and incidents by giving students free rides home after a late night in downtown Athens. He was perhaps most visible as a member of UGA's cheerleading squad from 1999 to 2002, where his athletic gifts and his outgoing personality could both be fully utilized. He captained the squad in 2001.

The weight room in the military science building at UGA was named in Noah’s honor.

Brother Harris’ ashes were scattered, but respect can be paid to him at his cenotaph along the Warriors Walk Memorial at Fort Stewart, Georgia. He is gone but will never be forgotten.

18 JUN 2008
World War II Veteran and CA Beta Brother Captain Richard E. Barrett, U.S. Army Air Corps died on this date. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and served in the pacific theater, specializing in intercepting and decoding Japanese messages during his 2 1/2 years in uniform.

After attending school in Europe he returned to Los Angeles, finished high school, and attended USC where he majored in business and international affairs. In addition to SigEp, Brother Barrett was president of the Trojan and San Gorgonio ski clubs. Upon graduation, he worked briefly at Douglas Aircraft.

After returning home from the way, Dick formed Barsa Company, selling U.S. products overseas. He published and exported Encyclopedia Britannica, medical books, bibles, and dictionaries in Spanish and Portuguese, employing over 5000 people worldwide. After selling Barsa Company in 1967, he settled in Newport Beach where he lived with his family for 41 years and pursued other investments. The highlight of his life was deep sea fishing. He held multiple world records and contributed to the tag and release program. His boat, "Grin'n Barrett" was well known throughout the fishing community. Dick was a major contributor to Hoag Hospital, USC, and other philanthropic organizations.

Editor’s Note: According to an article The Journal, during WWII CA Beta had at least 210 brothers serving in uniform. SPP has only been able to find the names of 136 CA Beta Patriots.

18 JUN 2012
U.S. Army Veteran and MA Alpha Brother Arthur Roy Fogelgren died on this date at the age of 79 in Hyannis, MA following a brief illness. Roy served in the Army from 1955-57 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts in 1954.

During his youth, he was very active in the YMCA and in scouting, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. After his military service, Roy spent a majority of his career as a Sales and Marketing Executive for the Digital Equipment Corporation and NEC. Roy served many years on the board of directors at New England Deaconess Association, a non-profit retirement community. They retired to Cape Cod in 1995. He was extremely active in many volunteer organizations and was dedicated to helping the less fortunate.

Donations in Brother Fogelgren’s memory may be made to the Cape Cod Counsel of Churches, P.O. Box 758, Hyannis, MA 02601.

21 JUN 2012
World War II and Korean War Veteran FL Alpha President Grover Eldridge Baker died on this date. After graduating from high school in 1942, he wanted to go to war with his buddies, but he was turned down because of his poor eyesight. Not to be denied, Grover joined the Merchant Marine and served for two years before going to the University of Florida where he earned a Bachelor's in Business. After his graduation he was called into the Army during the Korean War and played the trombone and bass fiddle at various bases in the U.S.

After Korea, Grover returned to Miami and joined in his father's business, Baker's Carpet Company, Miami's first and oldest specialist in Oriental rugs and general carpet sales.

Grover gave his body to the State of Florida for use in medical research and education, and after his cremation his remains will be spread over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

* 05 JUN – U.S. Navy Veteran OR Beta Brother Jarl Walter Gibson passed away at home surrounded by family. Jarl attended the University of Oregon where he made many lifelong friends and was proud to be a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He continued at the university’s dental school and after graduating in 1960 he served his country by joining the Navy. A memorial service will be held on Thursday, 27 JUN at 2:00 pm, at First United Methodist Church, Cathedral of the Rockies in Boise City, ID.
* 17 JUN – VA Alpha Brother Lieutenant Junior Grade Howell Sheppard Lewis, U.S. Navy passed away. In 1952, Brother Lewis joined the Navy after graduating from the University of Richmond.

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

* On Saturday, KY Epsilon Brother Second Lieutenant Brent Mcgee, U.S. Marine Corps married Ms. Rachel Harris. We wish them all the best for their future together.

There are many brothers serving in uniform around the world accomplishing great things, and we look forward to hearing from military and non-military brothers who are interested in sharing those items.

* SPP’s database now contains varying degrees of information about 3,884 SigEp Patriots!
* Five SigEp Patriots recently joined their brethren on SPP’s official Facebook page – SigEps Who Serve, and the group now numbers 597 brothers who served or currently serve. To join the group, go to
* Not on Facebook? Write an email to to request an invitation to join about 100 SigEp Patriots on the SPP email listserve.

Fraternally and Respectfully,

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