Daniel Farley was born in Kayford, West Virginia on May 4, 1924 and joined the Army during his Senior year of High School.
He later volunteered to be trained as a Ranger by British Commandos in Achnacarry, Scotland. His stated reason for volunteering for the Rangers was he wanted to "fight with the best."
After having been discovered to be part American Indian he was made "Lead Scout." A position that put him on "Point" many times during the war.
On June 6th, 1944 he went ashore on Dog White, Omaha Beach with the 5th Ranger Battalion commanded by Lt. Colonel Max Schneider.
After becoming separated from the rest of the 5th Dan, along with 2 Officers and 20 EM of 1st Platoon, Able Company under the command of Lt. Charles "Ace" Parker, fought their way overland to Pointe Du Hoc to reinforce the 2nd Ranger Battalion, under Lt. Colonel James Rudder.
Arriving at approx. 2100 (Double Daylight Saving Time) those 23 Officers and EM were the only element of 5th Rangers to fulfill their D-Day mission on D-Day.
He and his fellow 5th Rangers went on to fight from Grandcamp Maisy and Brest, France, being behind German lines for 9 days at Zerf, Germany, to helping with the Liberation of Buchenwald Concentration Camp.
Five years later, when the Korean War began, Dan would again find himself fighting in a Ranger company there.
Daniel Farley, Jr. died peacefully on the morning of December 30, 2017.
Robert (Bob) Becker, Ranger School Class 01-58, beloved husband of Fran Becker of Calgary passed away on October 29, 2017 at the age of 82 years.
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Bob Becker. He was a creative engineer, a reflective philosopher, a wonderful husband, father and grandfather, and a thoughtful man of the spirit. His warmth and optimism and zest for living will be deeply missed by friends and family.
He leaves behind his wife of 44 years Fran; his sons Julian and Bill (Michele); his daughter Buffy Elizabeth (Don) and stepson Ian (Erin); grandchildren, Elina, Finn, Evan and Annika.
Journey well Bob, we'll miss you.
Leonard D. Lavoie (93), formerly of Merrimack, NH, passed away on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at the Oceanside Nursing Center in Hampton. He was born on June 27, 1924 in Nashua, NH, the son of the late Joseph and Blanche (St. Onge) Lavoie.
Leonard proudly served his country as an Army Ranger, participating in the invasion of France on D-Day and also the Campaign of Brittany where he received the Purple Heart, presidential citation, good conduct ribbon, and three battle stars. He was a graduate of New Hampshire College and had a lifelong career employed as an Internal Revenue Agent for the IRS until his retirement in 1982. In his retirement, Leonard enjoyed golfing and bowling and was an active member of the Bektash Temple of Shriners.
Leonard was predeceased by two brothers, Lionel and George Lavoie and two sisters, Doris Desmaris and Gloria Gagnon.
Leonard is survived by his wife of 71 years, Beatrice E. Lavoie and their daughter Janet and her husband Ernest (Skip) Dufour of Exeter; granddaughters, Kristine Moulton and her husband David of Auburn and Kara Fontaine and her husband Bryan of Hooksett and three great grandchildren, Jack and Charles Moulton and Benjamin Fontaine. Leonard also leaves behind his brother, John Lavoie of Hudson and several sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and cousins.
The family would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the Visiting Angels of Auburn, Partridge House Assisted Living, Oceanside Nursing of Hampton, and Compassus Hospice of North Hampton for their kindness, help and support.
It’s my sad duty to inform you that MAJ (R) Timothy Arthur "Tim" Vandersommen, 61, of Chesnee, South Carolina passed away unexpectedly Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at Mary Black Hospital.
He was an Eagle Scout, a retired Army Special Forces officer and an Airborne Ranger with staff and command experience. MAJ Vandersommen led specialized units conducting military, intelligence, and counterterrorism missions. After retirement from the Army, Tim continued to serve his country in various aspects with the Department of Defense as a Special Mission Unit Instructor, Evaluator, and Role Player for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC); a Special Operations G-3 Advisor and Trainer in Afghanistan; the Director of the Khost Provinical Stabilization in Afghanistan; a Team Leader for the Human Terrain System, Multi National Division-Baghdad; and the Deputy Program Manager and Instructor for the Iraq Assistance Group’s Phoenix Academy at Camp Taji, Iraq.
He was the husband of Joyce Murphy Vandersommen; a native of Elyria and a son of Annette Krueck Vandersommen and the late Anthony Vandersommen. He spent his life devoted to God, his family and his country. He was a member of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Spartanburg.
In addition to his wife and mother, he is survived by a son, Collin Vandersommen of Arizona and a daughter, Victoria Vandersommen of Alaska; brothers, Martin Vandersommen of Homosassa, Florida and Roger Vandersommen of Elyria; sister, Patricia Huddleston of Cleveland.
Tim was preceded in death by a son, Ryan Vandersommen.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Fisher House Foundation, www.fisherhouse.org E-Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.eggersfuneralhome.com.
Nelsen was born February 28, 1923 in Brayton, Iowa. In 1940 at the age 17, George enlisted in the U.S. Army. During his tour of duty he saw action in the Algerian, Tunisian, and Italian Campaigns receiving three bronze battle stars. George volunteered to be in the 1st Ranger Battalion which was formed in Scotland and they were trained by British Commandos. He was honorably discharged on June 11, 1945 and returned to the Exira area.
He was an avid reader enjoying books and newspapers. George enjoyed playing cards, gardening, and attending Ranger Reunions. But most of all he loved spending time with his family especially his grandchildren.
The family will meet with friends Wednesday evening, June 14, 2017, at 6:00 P.M. at the Kessler Funeral Home in Exira, Iowa. Funeral services will be conducted by Pastor Steven Frock on Thursday morning June 15, 2017, at 10:30 A.M. at the Exira Lutheran Church in Exira, Iowa. Interment will be in the Exira Cemetery in Exira.
Samuel Vaughan Wilson (93) died June 10, 2017 of lung cancer at his home in Rice, Virginia.
A revered and beloved figure, and known affectionately as “General Sam,” Lieutenant General Wilson served 37 years in the U.S. Army, retiring in 1977. In June 1940, at 16, he walked seven miles through the nighttime rain from his family’s tobacco farm in Rice to the Army National Guard Armory in Farmville, VA, where he lied about his age and signed up. When he graduated from OCS at the age of 18, he was the Army’s youngest second lieutenant.
General Wilson became a living legend in intelligence and special operations. During his military career, he co-authored legislation establishing the U.S. Special Operations Command and helped create the Delta Force — the Army’s premier counterterrorism unit. Fluent in Russian, he was designated the first general officer to serve as defense attaché to Moscow. An expert in “counterinsurgency,” he coined the term, writing the Army’s first program of instruction on how to do it and fight it.
General Sam was an early recruit to the Office of Strategic Services in 1943. Later, his commanding officer termed him the best lieutenant fighting in Burma with the renowned “Merrill’s Marauders.” During his career he saw service variously in Russia and Vietnam, ran CIA Cold War operations in Berlin, served as Assistant Division Commander for Operations of the 82nd Airborne Division, and commanded the Sixth Special Forces Group. He played a key staff role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. In addition, he served as Deputy to the Director of Central Intelligence for the Intelligence Community, and as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Following his military career, he joined the faculty of Hampden-Sydney College as a professor of political science. He went on to become president of the college for eight years, and after founding Hampden-Sydney’s Wilson Center for Leadership was named to its first Wheat professorship. A longtime member of the Hampden-Sydney board, when commending General Sam’s “great wisdom,” described him as “one of the most significant presidents in the school’s history; he led and inspired every man he met to be a better man.”
Over the years many in the nation’s military and civilian leadership, and notably in its intelligence community, have held soaring opinions of General Sam — among them at least six Presidents as well as George Allen, Charles Robb, Paul Trible, Alexander Haig, David Petraeus, Richard Helms, John O. Marsh, Bobby Ray Inman, and Edward Lansdale.
— Former CIA Director Richard Helms said General Sam “never hesitated to take on the secret jobs which entail no reward.”
— Pete Schoomaker, former Chief of Staff of the Army, said of him: “I think of General Sam as the ideal polymath Renaissance Man…warrior, scholar, diplomat, leader, and sage.”
— Lynn Novick, Florentine Films said: Early in our project, Ken Burns and I were extremely fortunate to be introduced to General Sam Wilson, one of the most brilliant, honest, and authentic human beings we have ever encountered. We will be forever grateful to him for sharing his deep insights into the Vietnam War, one of the most divisive and complex events in our history. We feel his loss most acutely."
—Joseph Galloway, war correspondent and co-author of “We Were Soldiers Once and Young,” found General Sam “a prince of a man and officer and thinker and doer. He lived the words Duty, Honor, Country every day. His like shall never pass this way again."
—Novelist Charles McCarry said of his life-long friend "General Sam Wilson may well have been the ultimate citizen the founding fathers had in mind when they created our country. In dangerous times, he rose from the people to positions of high influence but all his life remained one of them. His deeds on the world stage were great and their effect on history was by no means small. His fame was quiet, as Sam, for whom duty was its own reward, wished it to be."
—LTG Patrick Hughes, former DIA Director said of his predecessor "It one thing to have been a great man for a brief period of time. It is another to have a sustained history and character of such esteem that one can call you among the greatest of the Greatest Generation."
— LTG James Williams, former DIA Director: "He was first and foremost, a gentleman. It followed then that he was also a scholar and a soldier, cited for heroism, who truly inspired his men and his officers. No challenge was too great and no obstacle too severe."
Among General Sam's various other honors, he was a member of the U.S. Army Infantry Hall of Fame, the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame, the U.S. Military Intelligence Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Attaché Hall of Fame. He was a recipient of: the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star (Gallantry) (twice), the Legion of Merit (twice), the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Medal (thrice), the Office of National Intelligence's Distinguished Service Medal (twice), the U.S. Special Operations Distinguished Service Medal, the CIA Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the William Oliver Baker Award (Intelligence), the Arthur D. “Bull” Simons Award (Special Operations), the National Defense Industrial Association’s Rylander Award for Special Operations, and the Military Intelligence Corps Association’s Knowlton Award. General Sam also held an Honorary Doctorate in Laws from Hampden-Sydney College, an Honorary Doctorate in Letters from Longwood University, and an honorary doctorate in Strategic Intelligence from the National Intelligence University. In 1992, the Virginia Cultural Laureate Foundation named him its Cultural Laureate for Public Service.
Samuel Vaughan Wilson was predeceased by his parents, Helen Vaughan and Jasper D. Wilson; his brothers John D. and William L.; his sister Virginia W. Druen; and by his wife Brenda Downing Wilson. He is survived by his brother James B. Wilson; his sons Samuel V. Wilson, Jr. (Jane Carol), Jackson B. Wilson (Jane), David. J. M. Wilson, and William W Tennis II; by his daughters Susan V. Wilson, and Frances Gwin Tennis (Jason); and by his wife Virginia H. Wilson.
Memorial services for General Sam will be held at College Church, Hampden-Sydney College June 23 at 1:00 PM. The family asks that donations in his memory be made to the Samuel V. Wilson Scholarship Fund or The Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest at Hampden Sydney, VA, 23943.
Alvin D.”Pop” Ezzell, 95, of Round Rock, Texas, member of the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions of WWII, passed away Wednesday May 17, 2017.
Alvin D. Ezzell, (Pop), 95, of Round Rock, Texas, passed away Wednesday May 17, 2017. He was born in Taylor, Texas, on June 6, 1921, to Edna Mae Wood and Ralph Taylor Ezzell. He spent his early childhood in Taylor and then moved to San Antonio, Texas in his early teenage years where he lived with his Aunt Ree and Uncle Charlie Herbert and later graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1939. After high school, he joined the Texas National Guard, 141st infantry, 36th division, where he began a decorated 22 year career in the U.S. Army.
On October 18, 1941, he married Virginia Adams, the love of his life. They were blessed with nearly 73 wonderful years together in marriage. In May of 1942, he volunteered for overseas service and he was stationed in London, England, in the Inspector General’s Office. On December 7, 1942, his daughter Bonnie Gay Ezzell was born while he was overseas serving our country; meeting her for the first time after World War II (WWII) ended in 1945. In June of 1942, he became restless with his office job and once again volunteered to further serve our great country and applied for Army Ranger training in Dundee, Scotland which was vigorous training by the British Commandos. After graduation from Ranger training, he became a member of the elite fighting force known as the Darby’s Rangers, commanded by Colonel William Orlando Darby. He was a proud member of both the 1st and 3rd Ranger Battalions of WWII. From August of 1942 – January of 1944, he participated in numerous battles, invasions and raids throughout North Africa, France, and Italy. On January 30, 1944, after the invasion at Anzio, Italy, he was captured by German forces and was a prisoner of war for nearly seventeen months. He returned to the “Good Ole USA” in 1945 after being liberated. In 1950, he volunteered for the U.S. Army’s first helicopter pilot training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In November of 1951, he once again volunteered for service and went overseas to Korea as a cargo helicopter pilot flying numerous missions over his sixteen months tour of duty in Korea. He later became a helicopter flight instructor and later Chief of Flight Operations at Camp Wolters in Minerals Wells, Texas. In July of 1963, Alvin retired from active service as a Chief Warrant Officer III. He was a proud recipient of many decorations, medals, citations and ribbons, including the bronze star, purple heart, good conduct medal, combat infantry badge, distinguished unit badge, 7 overseas bars, army aviation badges, air medal with cluster and senior army aviation badge, to name just a few. He was proud of his service to our country and was equally proud to be a member of the Darby’s Rangers. “Rangers Lead the Way” was the motto by which he lived his long and blessed servient life.
After his military career, Pop worked for the Texas Highway Department for over 10 years in Johnson City, Texas. After retirement, he stayed busy either ginning cotton in Williamson, County Texas or assisting shearing mohair in Uvalde, Texas at the Stone Ranch. He was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, uncle and friend to many. He was a diehard University of Texas Longhorn fan and was a season football ticket holder for many years; he bled burnt orange and had many great memories attending games with family and friends. He enjoyed hunting with his son-in-law and grandsons and had many great memories fishing on the Rio Grande with his life-long buddies. He was an avid gardener and enjoyed being outdoors doing just about anything. He also enjoyed traveling in his RV with his wife Virginia spending time at the Texas coast or just about anywhere in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. He and Virginia also enjoyed many wonderful years boating, fishing and living on Lake LBJ.
Pop, thank you for all of the wonderful memories and times together and your dedicated sacrifice and service to our country. You’re a true American hero and a chartered member of the greatest generation that will be missed by all who knew you. We are grateful for the nearly 96 years of your life and hope you can now rest in eternal peace as you enter God’s kingdom. As you would say, “Here’s to it and to it again and if we ever get to it, we will do it again.”
He is preceded in death by his wife Virginia Ezzell, his daughter Bonnie Jehl and his son-in-law Carl Jehl, Sr. He is survived by his grandchildren, Carl Jehl, Jr. and Robin Branham, Chuck and Marilyn Jehl, Rick and Tina Jehl, his great grandchildren, Jake, Jared, Hunter, Taylor, Jason and Jaxon Jehl, his sisters Peggy Massey and Joy Welsh and his extended family, Jack and Susan Stone.
The family would services were held at Beck Funeral Home in Round Rock, Texas on Monday May 22, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. Visitation will be held prior to the funeral services from 9:00 – 10:00 am.
like to thank the staff at Wyoming Springs assisted living for all of the wonderful care and love for Pop over the years and would also like to thank the team at Accolade Hospice for the incredible care and service to him over the past few months.
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!
Oldest Merrill’s Marauder MG Milton Pilcher dies at 100
By Jonnie Melillo Clasen
Retired MG Milton A. Pilcher, 100, died peacefully shortly before noon Easter Sunday in Virginia. He was the oldest living original Merrill’s Marauder. Pilcher served as a communications officer with Merrill’s Marauders and Mars Task Force for 18 months in the China Burma India Theater.
My brother and his wife and my husband and I were all there to pray with him and tell him how much everyone loved him,” said his daughter, Ann McKenzie, following her father’s death.
Pilcher died on the 73rd Easter Sunday anniversary of Merrill’s Marauders 2nd Battalion being rescued by the 3rd and 1st battalions after being surrounded for almost two weeks by the Japanese at the battle of Nphum Ga, Burma.
Pilcher had distinguished careers in both the military and public administration. Prior to his service during WW II, he was employed by the Kentucky Power Company and then the Rural Electrification Administration from 1938 to 1942.
Following his service in the China, Burma India Theater, Pilcher served as assistant signal officer with the Second Army in Tennessee, and in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in the Pentagon until relieved from active duty in 1946. Pilcher served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a USAR School Director and then as a member and later commander of the 352nd Civil Affairs Command located at Georgetown University from 1946 to 1968.
He was in the Executive Office of the President of the United States for 11 years, from 1949 to 1960.
He was promoted to brigadier general in 1966. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Military Operations, Department of the Army, and promoted to major general in 1968. Pilcher was appointed commander of the 310th Field Army Support Command, Washington, DC in 1972 and served until retirement in 1974.
His decorations include the Legion of Merit, and recognition as a Distinguished Member of the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment, and the Civil Affairs Corps Regiment. He received the AUSA award for distinguished service in 1995.
Funeral arrangements for Pilcher, who will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, are being handled by:
Murphy Funeral Home
4510 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, Virginia 22203
(703) 920-4800 | MAPhttp://www.dignitymemorial.com
Those wishing to send condolences can mail them to:
Murphy Funeral Home
1532 Dahlia Court
McLean, Virginia 22101-3312
Jonnie Melillo Clasen
706 689-0153 H
828 230-8724 C - no texts
Pilcher as a young officer
Pilcher in a communication briefing with the Chinese during WW II
Pilcher taken at his military retirement with his friend, GEN Frederick C. Weyand, who served as commander of American forces in Vietnam in the final year of the war
Johnny Mercer McClellan died unexpectedly on Sunday, February 12, 2017.
He was born on August 18, 1948, in Frankfurt, Germany to Stan Leon & Phyllis Irene McClellan.
Johnny graduated from West Point in 1970. He continued to serve in the US Army Infantry, Ranger, Paratrooper and Special Forces officer until 1977, including two and a half years in Vietnam and SE Asia. He resigned as a Captain.
Johnny became engaged to KimOanh Tran in 1977 and later married her in 1978. That same year, Johnny joined IBM where he continued to work until 1993 in systems engineering and sales. After his time with IBM until 2011, Johnny was a residential Realtor in Gaithersburg, MD. There he participated in more than 450 transactions and owned and operated his own Century 21 franchise for 8 years.
A good son to his parents, brother to his sister, a kind and fun cousin to his cousins, a loving husband and best friend to his wife, a beloved son-in-law, brother-in-law, and uncle-in-law to all of his in-laws, a kind and loyal friend to his friends, a good neighbor to his neighbors. Johnny enjoyed being in the outdoors, hunting and fishing. He was an antique car enthusiast and enjoyed his antique gun collection.
Johnny was a good man and fun person, he will be greatly missed by all. He is survived by his beloved wife, KimOanh McClellan; sister, Karen McClellan.
John was a Life Member of USARA.
Friends and family are invited on Sunday, February 19 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am for a Buddhist ceremony. A visitation will then follow from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, with a Buddhist cremation ceremony starting at 1:00 pm at Fairfax Memorial Funeral Home, 9902 Braddock Rd. Fairfax, VA 22032.
Dr. Joseph Hamilton Hilsman Jr. of Atlanta died on Jan. 18, just four days before his 103rd birthday.
Joseph Hilsman knew at a very young age that he wanted to be a doctor, and he never wavered. He pursued that goal through medical school at Vanderbilt University and as a U. S. Army medical officer on World War II battlefields who participated in liberating the Buchenwald concentration camp. Hilsman not only became a physician but enjoyed a career that spanned more than four decades and was the first gastroenterologist at Piedmont Hospital.
“My father always claimed that he wanted to be a doctor since he was in diapers, and it probably wasn’t far from the truth,” said Hilsman’s son, Joseph “Skip” Hamilton Hilsman III of Atlanta. “When I was a teenager and didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my life, he couldn’t understand that. He not only always knew his calling and followed it, but he was very, very good at it. He chose a profession in which he excelled in every way.”
“My father enjoyed a long, productive life and was sharp until the end,” he added. “His longevity is probably due in no small part to his belief in keeping busy and avoiding excesses. He did things he loved to do, spent time with people he cared about and who cared about him, and led a wonderful, full life.”
Hilsman was born at home at 13th Street and West Peachtree on Jan. 22, 1914, one of four children of Joseph Hamilton Hilsman and Mary Bogle Hilsman. He attended Spring Street School and Boys High School for a year before going to the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where he played on the tennis and baseball teams. He graduated from the University of Georgia in 1936 and Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 1941.
Hilsman was in the Vanderbilt ROTC and was inducted into the Army in the spring of 1942, months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He became an instructor at Camp Picket, Virginia, giving first aid courses, digging foxholes and inspecting kitchens. He was sent to Camp Adair in Oregon the next spring as a battalion surgeon. During his year there, he volunteered for duty overseas, but his commanding officer said since he was the only physician on the base he could not be spared.
In 1944, he went to England with the 558th Field Artillery Battalion and was there until after the invasion of Normandy, then moved with the Third Army until the Battle of the Bulge. Later, he volunteered as a medical officer for the Fifth Rangers. Hilsman was eventually assigned to the military police and was one of the first medical officers to liberate Buchenwald.
“I think the personal experience he had there, seeing the horrors at Buchenwald and knowing there were so many people beyond help, deepened his resolve to help others through the practice of medicine,” Skip Hilsman said. “He said here wasn’t a day that went by that he didn’t think of that experience and all those lives lost.”
After being away from a hospital environment four years in the Army, in 1946, Hilsman redid his internship at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. He then spent a year at Grady Hospital in Atlanta and a year at the University of Pennsylvania completing a fellowship in gastrointestinal disease. He returned to Atlanta and within a few years joined Piedmont Hospital where “Dr. Joe” became the first gastroenterologist on the staff. He closed his gastroenterology practice in the late 1980s but later returned to Piedmont as an emergency room doctor, where he was appointed medical director.
Dr. W. Perry Ballard III, an oncologist at Piedmont, described his friend and fellow physician as a mentor and role model who was “totally dedicated to his patients and his profession.
“We all greatly admired him,” Ballard said. “When most doctors close their practice, they go off to relax and play golf. Not Joe. He never slowed up. After leaving his gastroenterology practice, he came back to work in the emergency room at Piedmont. He had boundless energy and enthusiasm for medicine and his patients.”
After finally retiring in 1995, Hilsman went to work in an auto body shop to focus on his hobby of restoring old Volkswagen Beetles and Karmann Ghias. In his later years, he spent time with family, read military books and traveled. He was a longtime member of the Piedmont Driving Club and First Presbyterian Church and a founding member of the David, Helen and Marian Woodward Fund.
Hilsman is survived by his wife, Vangie House McKenzie Hilsman of Atlanta; his three sons, Joseph “Skip” Hamilton Hilsman III, David L. Hilsman and Clayton W. Hilsman; a step-daughter, Jenny McKenzie Stebbins, and a stepson, Ray McKenzie, all of Atlanta; and nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
A private burial service was scheduled Jan. 26 at Westview Cemetery followed by a memorial reception hosted by the family in the McRae Auditorium at Piedmont Hospital. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Piedmont Healthcare Foundation, Piedmont Atlanta Hospital Emergency Department General Fund.
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