Sunday, June 08, 2014

This Week in SigEp Patriot History, VOL 14/14, 02 – 08 JUN

This was quite a week in the history of SigEp Patriots. Four of our brothers made the ultimate sacrifice. Three military brothers discussed in this issue were awarded the nation's second highest honor. We also learned that three more of our brothers-in-arms were recently lost to the ages, and 63 brothers were added to the archives of the SigEp Patriots Project (SPP).

Brother Forrestal
02 JUN 1917
On this date, one of the principle architects of the National Security Act of 1947 and first Secretary of Defense, NH Alpha Brother James V. Forrestal, joined the Navy and began his World War I service. Brother Forrestal would achieve the rank of Lieutenant before being discharged at the end of the war, and the first U.S. super carrier would be named in his honor, USS Forrestal (CV-59).

06 JUN 1941
AL Alpha Brother Joseph Dean joined the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps on this date after graduating with the Class of 1940 from Auburn University.

04 JUN 1942
During intense fighting throughout the Pacific Ocean on this day, two SigEp Patriots are known to have made the ultimate sacrifice.

The day before, the Japanese Imperial Navy began their Aleutian Islands Campaign by attacking the U.S. base at Dutch Harbor, AK, and when they returned on the 4th they would face American fighters and bombers from the 11th Air Force.

Among them was KS Beta Brother Captain George Wayne Thornbrough, U.S. Army Air Force was killed in action near Cold Bay, Alaska while piloting a B-26 Marauder while serving with the 73rd Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomber Group, Heavy. During the battle, Brother Thornbrough flew bravely attacking a Japanese aircraft carrier that was launching strike aircraft at Dutch Harbor. Although his torpedo struck the carrier, it failed to explode. He returned to his airfield to refuel and rearm and then took off to rejoin the fight. His aircraft and entire crew were lost during their return from this mission, when they were unable to land at Cold Bay. The wreckage of Captain Thornbrough's aircraft was found 50 miles from Cold Bay on the north side of the Alaska Peninsula the following month.

Army Distinguished Service Cross
George and his unit flew from Fort Randall Army Airfield which was renamed Thornbrough Air Force Base in 1948.

In September 1942, he was posthumously awarded the U.S. Army's second highest award - the Army Distinguished Service Cross (ADSC) for his heroic acts as the first American flier to pilot a plane in a torpedo attack on the enemy fleet. He is one of only five SigEp Patriots known to have been awarded the ADSC.

While Brother Thornbrough was lost at sea, he is memorialized on the courts of the missing at the Honolulu National Memorial Cemetery ("The Punchbowl") and at Lot 3, Block 43, Section 4, Lakin Cemetery, Lakin, KS.

The turning point of the war in the Pacific took place at the Battle of Midway, and one of brothers was there to serve when the Japanese approached the Pacific Atoll. At 0534 (5:34am), patrol planes from the USS Yorktown (CV-5) spotted the Japanese fleet, and by 0710 (7:10am) plans from Midway were the first to attack ships of the Imperial Navy.

Based on the available research from the National Naval Aviation Museum, IL Alpha Brother Joseph Metcalf Hissem, U.S. Navy Reserve was killed in action while piloting one of six brand-new Grumman TBF-1 Avengers previously deployed to Midway as a detachment from Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) aboard USS Hornet (CV-8). Joseph was declared Missing in Action, and later designated as Buried at Sea.

For his actions on this date, Brother Hissem was posthumously awarded the
Brother Hissem
Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor, and is one of only two SigEp Patriots known to have been presented with this honor.

A U.S. warship was subsequently named in honor of Joseph. USS Hissem (DE-400), was a destroyer escort of the Edsall Class launched in Houston, TX, and commissioned on 13 JAN 1944. Hissem received one battle star for World War II service. After decommissioning, the ship's bell was presented to the city of Mt Carroll, Illinois.

In Rockford, Illinois the American Legion post 193 is named the Fickbo-Hissem Post.

Brother Hissem is memorialized at Honolulu Memorial Cemetery, Honolulu, Hawaii, and at a tombstone in Greenwood Cemetery, West Galena, IL next to those for his parents.

06 JUN 1942
On this date, MI Alpha Brother Joseph Hodgson joined the Army. He would go on to become Commissioner for the United States on the United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes. The Commission investigated allegations of war crimes committed by the Nazi Germany and its allies in World War II.

05 JUN 1944
MD Alpha Brother Neil Pratt joined the Army on this date.

06 JUN 1944 - D-Day
The SigEp Patriots who fought valiantly and with distinction on this date were discussed in a special piece published on

03 JUN 1967
Brother Schultz
On this date, Vietnam Veteran and PA Iota Past President Second Lieutenant Charles Joseph Schultz, U.S. Marine Corps made the ultimate sacrifice on this date. On 02 JUN, during Operation UNION II in the Que Son Valley, the Marines found the enemy entrenched in and around the Vinh Huy village complex. Heavy fighting on the 2nd and 3rd cost 67 American lives as the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marines and elements of two other Marine battalions took on and decisively defeated the 3rd NVA Regiment. The 2/5 Marines lost 32 men over the two day period including Brother Schultz.

He is remembered through the Richard Herold-Charles Schultz Scholarship Fund which carries his legacy through his name and that of a fellow young Vietnam War veteran from Metuchen High School, Metuchen, NJ. Send contributions to: Herold-Schultz Scholarship Fund, c/o Jackie Owen, 1612 Mountain Top Road, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.

Loved by his community, a marker honors Charles in the Metuchen Memorial Park remembering veterans who fought for our country. The park has a group of trees planted honoring veterans who gave their lives for all of us.

He is also remembered on Panel 21E, Row 52 of "The Wall" (The Vietnam Veterans Memorial) on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Respect can be paid to Brother Schultz at Hillside Cemetery, Metuchen, NJ.

Brother LaFromboise
06 JUN 1969
Vietnam War Veteran and WA Beta Brother First Lieutenant Michael Stuart LaFromboise, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve made the ultimate sacrifice on this date during action in Quang Tri, South Vietnam on the 366th day of his tour. Brother LaFromboise was an Artillery Officer attached to Headquarters Battery, 12th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Amphibious Force. He was 26 years old.

Michael was a member of Company N, Officer Basic Class 6-67 that graduated on 01 NOV 1967.

Brother LaFromboise was a rower at the University of Washington and he is remembered through an endowment there, as well as with an annual memorial scholarship through the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.

Michael is remembered on Panel 23 West, Line 88 of The Wall.  

Respect can be paid to Brother LaFromboise at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park and Funeral Home in Seattle, WA.

07 JUN 1970
IL Delta brothers Ted LaBedz and Bill Ward were commissioned second lieutenants in the Air Force on this date.

08 JUN 1970
On this date, IL Beta Brother Stephen Downs was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Air Force, and IL Beta Brother Robert Henderson was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army.

09 JUN 1983
U.S. Marine Corps World War I Veteran, Governor (Virginia), U.S. Congressman and VA Zeta Brother William M. Tuck died on this date in South Boston, Virginia. He left the College of William & Mary for two years, and following a year as a principal-teacher, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps in WWI. Following his discharge, Bill went to law school, and after graduating was admitted to the Virginia Bar the same year before commencing practice in South Boston, VA.

In 1923, at age 27, he entered the political arena by running for a seat in the House of Delegates, and successful started a long career of service to the citizens of Virginia. Brother Tuck served as a State Representative from 1924-32, in the Virginia State Senate (1932-42), as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia (1942-46), as Governor of Virginia (1946-50), delegate to Democratic National Convention from Virginia (1948 & 1952), and as Chairman of the Virginia State Democratic Central Committee in 1952 before being elected to the Eighty-Third U.S. Congress. Brother Tuck was elected to the seven succeeding Congresses serving as the U.S. Congressman, Virginia 5th District (1953-69).

William M. Tuck Airport in South Boston is named in his honor.

Respect can be paid to Brother Tuck at Oak Ridge Cemetery in South Boston.

Brother Crites' West Point Photo
06 JUN 2002
Vietnam War Veteran and NE Beta Brother Colonel William R. Crites, U.S. Army (Retired), 70, a highly decorated veteran died on this date at a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina after an extended illness. He attended what is now the University of Nebraska and transferred his senior year to West Point and graduated in 1956. 

Brother Crites became an Army Ranger, and after peacetime service in Germany and Korea received orders to Vietnam in the fall of 1965 as a member of the 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division. There is was severly wounded when he stepped on a land mine. After his recovery, Bill earned a master’s degree in military history at Duke University. He then taught in the history department at West Point, where the cadets absolutely loved him and where he soon became one of the department’s most popular instructors.

With his war injuries restricting his duties, Brother Crites transferred to the Medical Service Corps. He earned a master’s degree in hospital administration from Baylor University and served tours at Brooke Army Medical Center and Walter Reed. Bill retired from the Army in 1979.

Respect can be paid to Brother Crites at Section 5B, Plot 169 at Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain, NC.

10 JUN 2004
U.S. Army Korean War Veteran NC Delta Brother Nathaniel S. Crews, 67, died unexpectedly on this date in Danville, Virginia. During the Korean War, he served in the U.S. Army, special services division.

Brother Crews earned a B.S. degree from The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was with J.C. Bradford for 20 years and retired from Legg Mason in 2003.

Respect can be paid to Brother Crews at Mountain View Cemetery in Danville.

05 JUN 2005
Korean & Vietnam War Veteran, KY Beta Brother Colonel Richard L. “Larry” Mehr, U.S. Air Force (Retired) died on this date at his home in Rockford, Illinois. Many of Larry’s fellow pilots knew him for a complex and daring rescue operation he directed the summer of 1967 in Southeast Asia for which he was awarded the Air Force Cross – second only to the Medal of Honor. 

A member of the Air Force ROTC at University of Louisville, he began his active duty in July 1952. Trained as a supply officer, he served as such with the 67th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in Korea from JAN 1953 – JAN 1954. He began pilot training in JUN, and received his pilot wings at Webb AFB in JUN 1955. He retired from the Air Force in 1972.

His other awards include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and the Distinguished Flying Cross (with “V” and two oak leaf clusters), Meritorious Service Medal, 22 Air Medals, Air Force Commendation Medal (with one oak leaf cluster), and National Defense Service Medal (two awards).

Respect can paid to Brother Mehr at Section 68, Site 3411 at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

04 JUN 2008
U.S. Veteran and NY Beta Brother James Greene of Auburn, NY, and Fripp Island, SC, passed away on this date. Brother Greene was Vice President of Greene Air Control, and prior to that the experimental design engineer with Auburn Spark Plug. He was also active in civic and community affairs. 

Respect can be paid to Brother Greene at Saint Josephs Catholic Cemetery, Auburn, NY.

05 JUN 2009
Vietnam War Veteran and VT Alpha Brother Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Munsell, U.S. Army National Guard (Vermont) (Retired) died on this date. Upon graduation in 1954, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army where he served as an armor officer for 21 years. A combat veteran of two tours of duty in Vietnam, he was the recipient of numerous medals and awards, including a Bronze Star Medal (two oak leaf clusters), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal (one oak leaf cluster), the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry w/Palm (2nd Award), the Combat Infantry Badge, and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star. 

Following his retirement, he was the owner and operator of the Village Cobbler in Essex Junction and of DePaul's Shoe Store in Winooski. Dick was a member of the VFW Post 6689 in Essex Junction, the Vermont State Guard, and was very active in, and passionate about, the Lions Club of Essex Junction where he was past president of that club and past district governor for the State of Vermont. In addition, he put his efforts into the Veteran's Memorial Fountain at the Five Corners in Essex Junction by designing the initial plans for their memorial.

03 JUN 2010
Operations Iraqi & Enduring Freedom Veteran, UT Beta Brother and MT Alpha Past President Lieutenant Colonel David L. Yockey, U.S. Air Force (Retired) died on this date.

Brother Yockey
During his 20 years in the Air Force, his combat assignments included deploying to the Middle East as Deputy Director of Logistics, Air Force Forward in support of operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

He spent his freshman year in college at Utah State University, where he pledged Sigma Phi Epsilon. The next year, his family moved to Hamilton, Montana, and Dave transferred to University of Montana to complete his B.S. in business administration.

While at University of Montana, in addition to serving as chapter president, David was one of three students to be elected to SigEp’s national board of directors.

His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Air Force Commendation Medal (two oak leaf clusters), Air Force Achievement Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

06 JUN 2010
U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and DE Alpha Brother James R. McCarthy died on this date in Hoover, Alabama at the age of 81. After graduating from high school, James served four years in the Marine Corps before attending the University of Delaware and receiving a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Brother McCarthy joined United States Steel Corporation after graduating from the advanced management program at Harvard, accepting many moves and promotions in his 31 year career. He moved to Birmingham, Alabama after working in the company's home office in Pittsburgh, and retired there as General Manager Sales, Southern Division, in 1986. He was involved with many business and civic groups throughout his career and was an active member of New Horizons and Friends of Hoover. 

07 JUN 2010
Korean War Veteran and NE Beta Brother First Lieutenant Paul E. Fesler, U.S. Air Force, 77, died on this date in Omaha, Nebraska.

Respect can be paid to Paul at Westlawn-Hillcrest Cemetery in Omaha.

08 JUN 2010
OH Nu Brother Lieutenant Commander David L. Balint, U.S. Navy (Retired) died on this date in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. David is the former Director, Field Liaison Office, Navy International Logistics Control Office, Philadelphia, PA. Prior to that assignment, he held a variety of acquisition management positions.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Cleveland State University, an MBA from Temple University, and is a 1982 graduate of the Navy War College.

Following his service the Navy Supply Corps, Brother Balint began a career that included time with Teledyne Corporation, Boeing Aircraft and most recently with ITT Corporation. 

He is a former President of the New Jersey Epsilon Alumni Volunteer Corporation at Glassboro State College, and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation. He also served as Chairman of the Huntsville [Alabama] Corporate Volunteer Council, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Volunteer Center of Huntsville.

The David L. Balint Alumni Office at Cleveland State was named in his honor.

10 JUN 2010
Brother Banks
TX Beta Brother Lieutenant Commander Raymond K. Banks, U.S. Navy died on this date in Tyler, Texas. Raymond attended North Texas University on a basketball scholarship, and after graduation, he joined the Navy and had an outstanding career as a carrier pilot. After an honorable discharge, he began a long career as a pilot for Central Airlines and Frontier Airlines, later retiring from Continental Airlines.

10 JUN 2011
Korean War Veteran, Vietnam War Veteran and KY Alpha President Colonel John M. Taylor, U.S. Army (Retired) – community leader, scientist, and longtime Greenbelt, Maryland resident died on this date at 79 years old. Before graduating, he joined the Army, and after serving in Korea he joined the reserves and moved his family to Maryland.

While a Plant Pathologist at the USDA in Beltsville he worked on his Doctorate at the University of Maryland. In Greenbelt he committed years of service to the community. He was a board member, Scoutmaster of Troop 202, travel chairman for the Golden Age Club and President of Greenbelt GIVES. He helped run the church food pantry until advancing Alzheimer's made it impractical to continue.

Brother Taylor was laid to rest with full military honors, and respect can be paid to him at Section 55, Site 2664, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

03 JUN 2012
U.S. Navy World War II and Korean War Veteran CA Beta Brother Lee Heitzig died unexpectedly on this date. Lee lived near Fresno his entire life except for two tours in the Navy during WWII and Korea. His 65 years in the tire business began as a teen working in the family business of Heitzig and Shirkey and later for Schoettler Tire.

Remembrances may be made in Brother Heitzig's honor to the Alzheimer's & Memory Center, 313 N. Hillard Lane, Fresno, CA 93726; or AA Serenity Retreat, c/o Bill Hamilton, 176 Anderson Avenue, Clovis, CA 93612.

Respect can be paid to Brother Heitzig at Clovis Cemetery in Clovis, CA.

06 JUN 2013
On this date, World War II Veteran and NC Delta Brother Dr. Wardell “Ward” H. Mills passed away at Well Spring Retirement Community in Greensboro, North Carolina. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Guilford Park Presbyterian Church, 2100 Fernwood Drive, Greensboro, NC 27408. 

U.S. Navy World War II Veteran and TX Upsilon Brother John E. Fahrlander, 87, of Prairie Village, Kansas also died on this date at Lakeview Village in Lenexa, Kansas. John graduated from high school in 1943, and after serving aboard USS Savo Island (CVE-78), he enrolled in and graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering from Southern Methodist University. 

His entire career was spent as a manufacturer's representative with Benson Engineering Company based in Dallas, TX. In retirement, he could often be found in his workshop turning wood, supervising projects with grandchildren, or making repairs to a neighbor's lawn mower. An avid traveler, he recently spent three weeks touring France with his daughter.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Association.

* U.S. Army World War II Veteran and NY Beta Brother William Marvin "Marc" Marcussen, 89, passed away peacefully at home on 29 MAY. After graduating from high school in 1943, Marc joined the Army, and attended Cornell University after his discharge from military service. The family ask that any donations be made to the Forever Woodcraft Foundation so that less privileged children can have the experience of attending Adirondack Woodcraft Camp (AWC) as he did. Donations can be sent to AWC, PO Box 219, 285 Woodcraft Road, Old Forge, NY 13420.
* U.S. Navy World War II Veteran and OR Alpha Brother Jason Eldridge Widmer, passed away peacefully on 01 JUN, in Corvallis, Oregon. He was 90 years old. Jason enlisted in the Navy his freshman year at Oregon State College in order to serve during WWII. He attended Harvard Business School for a year as a Midshipman Officer, and celebrated V-J Day in Hawaii en route to Kwajalein Island to serve as a Supply Officer. Following the war he returned to Harvard to complete his Master of Business Administration degree in 1947. In lieu of flowers, the familiy asks that you donate in Brother Widmer’s honor to the charity of your choice.
* World War II Veteran and VT Beta Brother First Lieutenant James J. "J.J." Conley Sr., U.S. Army Air Corps, 91, of Brockton, Massachusetts also passed away 01 JUN at New England Sinai Hospital. He entered the Class of 1945 at Middlebury College, but J.J.'s studies were interrupted when World War II broke out, and he enlisted in the Army.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the chapter brothers, family, and friends of SigEp Patriots Marcussen, Widmer and Conley. You will always be remembered by SPP.

* Two-time Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran and Three-time Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran, HI Alpha Brother Major Siegfried Ramil earned his MBA on 05 JUN!
* At a ceremony the same day as the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran and IL Eta Brother Captain Ryan Bissell, U.S. Army earned his jump wings!

Congratulations to Brother's Ramil and Bissell.

* 63 SigEp Patriots were added to the SPP archives this week.
* Four military brothers were added to the official SPP Facebook page - SigEps Who Serve.
* And our Twitter followers now number 80.

Fraternally and Respectfully,

Ed Jones, NY Eta '96
Chief, U.S. Navy Reserve
Founder, SigEp Patriots Project 
Twitter: @SigEpsWhoServe
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