Sunday, June 22, 2014

This Week in SigEp Patriot History, Volume 16/14, 16 – 22 JUN


Three Brothers were killed in action during this week in our history, and on Monday the SigEp Patriots Project (SPP) welcomed home a SigEp Patriot from Afghanistan who has multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11.

Awards for Valor presented by the
U.S. military
The Army Distinguished Service Cross (ADSC), Navy Cross and Air Force Cross are the second highest military decoration for valor for extraordinary heroism in combat bestowed upon a member of their respective service, and are second only to the Medal of Honor (MoH). While there is no record of a brother of Sigma Phi Epsilon being awarded the MoH, 10 amazing SigEp Patriots have distinguished themselves valiantly in earning a service cross. Several of them are listed in this week's work.

21 JUN 1918
On this date, OH Gamma Brother First Lieutenant Robert L. Tavenner, U.S. Army began his World War I service with the 37th Division of the American Expeditionary Force, and would see action in France & Belgium. According to the SPP archives, Brother Tavenner is the third of six SigEp Patriots known to have been awarded the ADSC.

18 JUN 1940
KY Epsilon Brother Joseph F. Odle, Jr. enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on this date. During WWII he served at the Battle of Solomon Islands.

16 JUN 1941
WI Alpha Brother William H. Zuehlke, Jr., entered the U.S. Navy Reserve on this date, and, according to the SPP archives, the Class of 1936 Lawrence University graduate had one of the longest overseas deployments of any SigEp Patriot who served during WWII.

16 JUN 1942
NH Alpha Brother William B. Perry graduated with the Class of '42 at Dartmouth College, and began his service in the U.S. Army Air Corps on this date. Before his discharge three years later William would serve on Saipan.

17 JUN 1942
Richmond native and member of the Class of 1941 at Richmond College (now University of Richmond), VA Alpha Brother John B Blanton, Jr. enlisted as a Private in the U.S. Army on this date. Two-and-a-half years later, while serving with the 17th Airborne Division, Brother Blanton was killed in action during the Battle of the Bulge.

19 JUN 1942
On this date, Elmo R. Zumwalt, Jr. graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and was commissioned an Ensign, U.S. Navy. He went on to serve in World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars in a notable career that included appointment as the youngest U.S. Navy Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) - the highest ranking officer in the Navy. 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 by the CT Alpha Chapter in 1985 – 11 years after his retirement from the Navy.

21 JUN 1942
VT Alpha Brother Norman Stanley, Norwich University Class of '41, joined the Field Artillery Branch of the U.S. Army on this date.

17 JUN 1943
PA Epsilon Brother Earl A. Brawn, graduated from Lehigh University with the Class of '43, and began his enlistment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on this date.

19 JUN 1944
On this date, World War II Veteran of D-Day and IA Gamma Brother Lieutenant Colonel Fred Alvin Steiner, U.S. Army made the ultimate sacrifice in Normandy, France while serving as Executive Officer of the 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.

SPP has documentation showing Fred registered for the World War I draft and attended training at Fort Sheridan, but it remains unclear whether he served overseas prior to the conclusion of the war.

His awards include the ADSC for service on D-Day, Silver Star for gallantry in action on 12 JUN, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Fred is the fifth brother to receive the ADSC.

Respect can be paid to Brother Steiner at Section 6, Site 78 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego, CA.

20 JUN 1945
World War II Veteran of D-Day & Operation Market Garden, DE Alpha Brother Robert A. Shurter, Jr., U.S. Army began his assignment as Sergeant Major of the 506th Parachute Infantry on this date during the occupation of Austria, and remained in that position through redeployment of the 506th to the U.S.

16 JUN 1946
World War II Veteran and MD Alpha Brother Technician Fourth Grade Neil P. Pratt, U.S. Army served in the Medical Corps and was discharged on this date after more than two years of service, 17 months of which were in the European Theater.

21 JUN 1946
World War II Veteran and NJ Alpha Brother Lieutenant Milton P. Franklin, U.S. Navy Reserve was released from active duty on this date after more than four years of service.

22 JUN 1967
On this date, National Guard (Alabama) Veteran of the Mexican War and decorated U.S. Marine Corps World War I & II Veteran, AL Alpha Brother General Franklin A. Hart, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired) died at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland at the age of 72.

Brother Hart
Brother Hart served for more than 37 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including two world wars, aboard several ships, and on expeditionary duty in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Haiti.

The Class of 1915 graduate of (then) Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, U.S. Marine Corps in APR 1917 - shortly before the U.S. entered WWI.

During WWII, (then) Colonel Hart was awarded the Navy Cross while commanding the 24th Marine Regiment in the assault and capture of Roi-Namur Island, Kwajalein Atoll. The citation reads in part:

"Landing when the assault troops had advanced only one hundred yards from the beach, Colonel Hart fearlessly led his combat team against heavy enemy resistance in a crushing attack toward its first objective." "After repelling numerous counter attacks during the night, he skillfully reorganized his depleted units and affected a coordinated assault the next morning, rapidly overcoming all remaining opposition, and exterminating a large force of determined and fanatical Japanese." "By his valiant performance of duty and outstanding leadership throughout this perilous assignment, Colonel Hart inspired all with whom he served."

According to the SPP archives, Franklin was the second SigEp Patriot to be awarded the Navy Cross.

After the war, Franklin’s assignments included Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Commanding General of the Second Marine Division, and finally Commanding General, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, before retiring in AUG 1954. At which time he was advanced to the rank of General (four stars).

His other personal awards include the Legion of Merit (with V device [valor]) and Bronze Star (with V device).

Respect can be paid to Brother Hart at Section 7, Grave 8264 in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.

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 engaging the enemy during the insertion of a recon team 22 miles WNW of Da Nang in Quang Nam Province, South 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).
Brother Peters

In separation actions, as a result of his conduct against the enemy on 12 APR 1969, William was awarded the Navy Cross. He is the last SigEp Patriot known to have been awarded the second highest military decoration bestowed to a member of the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps.

In subsequent valorous action just 13 days before his death, Brother Peters fearlessly extracted a team of recon Marines earning him the 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).

William 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, IA.

16 JUN 1981
World War I & II Veteran and VA Theta Brother Colonel Hugh A. Murrill, Jr., U.S. Army died on this date. Brother Murrill was a graduate of Virginia Military Institute and West Point (MAY 1918) – where he was class president, and he served as an aide-de-camp to (then) Brigadier General Omar Bradley, with the 82nd Division, and later as aide to Major General Sturgis.

Respect can be paid to Brother Murrill at Quaker Cemetery, Camden, SC.

21 JUN 2001
Brother O'Connor
U.S. Merchant Marine World War II Veteran and MT Alpha Brother Carroll O’Connor died on this date of a heart attack in Brotman Medical Center, Culver City, California. Born John Carroll O’Connor, he enrolled at Wake Forest University in 1941, but dropped out when the U.S. entered WWII. During the war he was rejected by the Navy, and instead enrolled in the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy for a short time. However, he left the Academy and became a merchant seaman working 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. Carroll moved to Ireland to help his brother get in to medical school there, and he resumed his theatrical studies at the National University of Ireland. He returned to the States in 1954 after working in theater in Europe.

Carroll 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 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 at 7080 Hollywood Boulevard.

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. Cornell University Class of 1930.

Respect can be paid to Brother Gray at Rose Cemetery in Rose, NY.

18 JUN 2005
The fifth SigEp killed during Operation Iraqi Freedom died on this date. He was 23 years old.

Brother Harris
Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran and GA Delta Brother Second Lieutenant Noah Harris, U.S. Army died of wounds 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. Noah was posthumously promoted to First Lieutenant.

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.

Born to be a SigEp, Noah was captain and most valuable player of his high school's football team, won a state individual wrestling title, and later named the state’s high school Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1999. At UGA, in addition to SigEp, Brother Harris was an ROTC Cadet, and 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, GA.

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

After returning home from the war, he formed Barsa Company, selling U.S. products overseas. Richard 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. Dick was a major contributor to Hoag Hospital, USC, and other philanthropic organizations.

Editor’s Note: According to an article in The Journal, during WWII CA Beta had at least 210 brothers serving in uniform. During nearly 13 years of research, SPP has been able to find the names of 149 such brothers.

How many brothers from your chapter served in the U.S. military?

16 JUN 2010
U.S. Navy World War II Veteran WA Beta Brother Theodore O. “Ted” Schimanski, 92, died on this date at Richland Rehabilitation Center, Richland, Washington. During WWII, he served in communications aboard a U.S. Navy ship as a radioman, and upon his return from the war, Ted was employed by Western Electric, then Pacific NW Bell for 31 years as a manager.

Memorial contributions may be made to the First Tee Program (The First Tee of the Inland Northwest, PO Box 4553, Spokane, WA 99220).

16 JUN 2012
Two U.S. Army World War II SigEp Patriots died on this date.

U.S. Army World War II Veteran and KS Beta Brother Edwin “Ed” S. Darden II, 91, died at his home in Fresno, California. He served four years during WWII in the U.S. Army, and was attached to the Army Air Corps for the last two years.

Ed was a track star in high school and college, and graduated from his beloved Kansas State University with a degree in Architectural-Engineering.

Brother Darden's professional life was full of accomplishments. He was the founder of Darden Architects in 1959, and credited with many innovations in school planning and design. He was very active in the American Institute of Architects, elected to Fellowship in 1975, and was certified Who's Who in America in 1986.

Ed served as a professional adviser to Fresno County and on the California State Advisory Board to the Office of Architecture and Construction. He was on the Board of Directors for Murphy Bank, Past President of Merced Lions Club, and Charter Member of Fresno Breakfast Lions Club.

Brother Rickman
World War II Veteran and CA Beta Brother Captain James “Dean” D. Rickman, U.S. Army Air Corps, 95, also died peacefully on this date with family by his side in Wichita, Kansas. WWII interrupted Dean’s college and track career. He joined the Air Corps, and was trained in photography at Yale University. Brother Rickman then organized and trained a Photographic Section in the 6th Army Air Force Motion Picture Unit. While deployed to Italy, Dean personally photographed the colossal Bari, Italy ammunition ship explosions while they were taking place, running toward the ships while others fled. He left the Army at the conclusion of the war, and returned to Wichita, Kansas to start a family and begin a business career.

Dean was honored as an outstanding track star and athlete earning him a track scholarship to the University of Southern California where he competed in dashes, low hurdles and the broad jump against the best athletes of his time. Brother Rickman finished 4th in the 1941 NCAA finals 100 yard dash at Stanford.

After the war, Dean continued worked with his father and brother to found Freightways truck line. During his twenty years as president, he represented independent truckers in negotiations with Teamsters Union President Jimmy Hoffa, advised General Mills, Firestone and other corporate managers on trucking issues, and expanded operations throughout the Midwest.

Respect can be paid to Brother Rickman at Wichita Park Cemetery and Mausoleum in Wichita.

18 JUN 2012
On this date, two more military brothers died.

U.S. Navy Veteran NC Zeta Brother Barnie P. Trimble, 83, of Utopia, Texas. He graduated from high school in 1946 and joined the Navy, serving from 1946-48. He graduated from Wake Forest with a bachelor's degree in business in 1952.

After graduating, he worked for Dupont Chemical in Martinsville, Va. After working his entire career with DuPont, living in several different locations, he retired from the company in Houston, Texas as a senior supervisor.

Brother Fogelgren
U.S. Army Veteran MA Alpha Brother Arthur “Roy” R. Fogelgren, 79, died on this date in Hyannis, Massachusetts 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.

21 JUN 2012
Merchant Marine World War II Veteran and U.S. Army Korean War Veteran FL Alpha Past President Grover E. Baker died on this date of Alzheimer's Disease. 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 Marines, 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 his Korean War service, 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 were released in the Gulf of Mexico.

17 JUN 2013
Last year, VA Alpha Brother Lieutenant Junior Grade Howell Lewis, U.S. Navy died on this date. In 1952, Brother Lewis joined the Navy after graduating from the University of Richmond, and served at the Patuxent River Naval Air Training Center.

After leaving the Navy, Howell joined the Dow Chemical Company as an accountant. He remained with the company through its transitions from Dow Chemical to Dow Badische to Badische Corporation to BASF Corporation. He retired from BASF in 1993 after serving as Vice President of Planning and Controlling.

* 10 JUN – Korean War Veteran and IL Alpha Brother First Lieutenant Ted Bockman, U.S. Army passed away in Santa Cruz, California at the age of 85 following a hard fought battle with cancer. Ted was in the Armored Calvary Division, and served as a tank commander.
* 17 JUN - U.S. Army Air Corps World War II Veteran VA Alpha Past President Edward L. Kurtz, 86, of Richmond, Virginia, passed away peacefully after a brief illness. Ed was a fine steward of the community, and was recognized by the University of Richmond with a Distinguished Service Award. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that contributions be made to River Road Presbyterian Church or to the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and chapter brothers of Brothers Kurtz and Bockman. SPP will never forget you.

** Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran and CA Eta Brother Second Lieutenant Andrew Yacovone, U.S. Army has reported he is now officially a combat platoon leader. Andrew is currently leading troops in Afghanistan, and had his first successful mission on 16 JUN. Best of luck to Andrew and his troopers!
**Late on 16 JUN, HI Alpha Brother and veteran of multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Major Siegfried Ramil, U.S. Army arrived back in the U.S.A. after another successful deployment when he landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Welcome Home Brother!
** OH Theta Brother Second Lieutenant Ben Garner, U.S. Air Force has nearly completed flight training, and he learned on Friday that he will be assigned to an F-15C (Eagle) squadron! Good hunting Ben!
** CA Theta Brother Second Lieutenant Ted Hornstra, U.S. Army reported this week that he has nearly earned his blue cord as an official Infantry Lieutenant. He is scheduled to complete IBOLC in a couple of days as things are "winding down." Congratulations Ted!
** Two SigEp Patriots got engaged yesterday! On his Facebook page, U.S. Navy & Marine Corps Veteran, PA Gamma Brother Mike Boggs is all smiles in a picture with his fiancée, Miss Cate King. DC Alpha Brother Ensign Tom Cullen, U.S. Navy heard that one word he was looking for, "Yes!" when he asked Miss Carol Campbell to marry him. Congratulations to Mike & Tom, their fiancées, and their families.

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.

* Storming ahead! The SPP archives grew by 109 additional SigEp Patriots this week. Thank you to all the contributors. Keep the information coming guys!
* This week, SigEp Patriot AL Theta Brother James Myrick joined SPP's official Facebook page - SigEps Who Serve. Welcome aboard James! To join the group, go to
* Not on Facebook? Write an email to to request an invitation to join over 100 SigEp Patriots on the SPP email listserve.
* Join 89 others and follow us on Twitter

Fraternally and Respectfully,

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