SigEp Military History


This Week in SigEp Patriot History
December 31, 2012 – January 6, 2013


01 JAN 1920
On this date, World War I Veteran and OH Gamma Brother Captain Robert Lester Tavenner, U.S. Army was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) and Distinguished Service Medal for his courageous actions while deployed to France & Belgium. The DSC is the second highest military award presented to a member of the U.S. Army for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Brother Tavenner is one of five SigEp Patriots to be awarded the DSC.

03 JAN 1941
World War II Veteran and PA Xi Brother First Lieutenant Paul Harvey Cunningham, U.S. Army was sworn in on this date as a member of the Seventy-seventh Congress. Brother Cunningham served the people of Iowa’s 6th District until 1943 when he was elected to serve the 5th District.

31 DEC 1942
NC Epsilon Brother Charles Henderson joined the U. S. Navy after graduation, and served 26 months overseas before being discharged at the end of the war at the rank of Lieutenant.

01 JAN 1943
On this date, DC Alpha Brother Kenneth H. Brunner, U.S. Army entered the service and obtained the rank of Captain and served on an "interesting duty" with the Manhattan District in Tennessee, headquarters for the atomic bomb before being discharged.

03 JAN 1943
Making the ultimate sacrifice on this date, World War II Veteran and MI Alpha Brother First Lieutenant James L. Lee, U.S. Army was in action over Western Europe while serving as co-pilot with the U.S. Army Air Corps 323rd Bomber Squadron, 91st Bomber Group (Heavy). Brother Lee was MI Alpha’s first casualty of WWII.

A SigEp at MI Alpha between 1935 and 1937, Brother Lee entered the service in the fall of 1941 after graduating from Carnegie Institute of Technology at Pittsburgh. He received his preliminary training at Maxwell Field, Montgomery, AL, and was later sent to Camden and Sumter, SC, before receiving his silver wings and commission at Shaw Field, in the summer of 1942.

His awards include the Purple Heart and Air Medal.

Brother Lee is memorialized at the Brittany American Cemetery, St. James (Manche), France.

03 JAN 1944
KS Beta Brother Lieutenant Commander L.W. Newcomer, U.S. Navy arrived on Guadalcanal and set up camp on this date as he staged for the pending attack on Bougainville.

30 DEC 1944
For his leadership at Bastogne, WV Beta Brother (then) Brigadier General Anthony “Nuts!” Clement McAuliffe, U.S. Army was awarded the DSC on this date by General Patton. Brother McAuliffe would go on to become a four-star General, is one of five SigEp Patriots to earn the DSC, and was awarded the SigEp Citation in 1965.

31 DEC 1945
On this date, World War II Veteran MS Alpha Brother Private First Class Robert D. Keller, U.S. Army was discharged after 18 months of service with the Armored Infantry in the European Theater, and WI Alpha Brother Lieutenant William H. Zuehlke, Jr., U.S. Navy Reserve was also discharged following four years overseas.

06 JAN 1946
U.S. Army World War II Veteran and UT Alpha Brother Worth Barber McNeel was discharged from active duty on this date. When the war broke out, Worth joined the Enlisted Reserve Corp at Utah State University. In 1943, he joined the U.S. Army, and served in the Philippines, Okinawa and Korea. After his patriotic service, Worth brought his wartime leadership to Utah State and became a noble member of our beloved fraternity. In later years, he joined the Idaho National Guard in Blackfoot, ID.

03 JAN 1949
On this date, World War II Veteran and MT Alpha Brother Colonel John Woodrow Bonner, U.S. Army began his first day in office as the 13th governor of Montana, and would serve in office until 04 JAN 1953.

03 JAN 1953
World War II Veteran and FL Alpha Brother Captain Donald Ray Matthews, U.S. Army was sworn in this date as a member of the Eighty-third Congress of the United States joining Brother Cunningham.

03 JAN 1955
World War II Veteran and VA Kappa Brother Major William Pat Jennings, U.S. Army was elected to represent the people of Virginia’s 9th District, and was sworn in this date as a member of the Eighty-fourth Congress, joining brothers Cunningham, Matthews, and VA Zeta Brother William Munford Tuck already serving in Washington.

03 JAN 1959
On this date, Brother Paul Harvey Cunningham completed 18 years of service in the U.S. Congress.

03 JAN 1967
This marks the last day of congressional service for brothers Donald Ray Matthews and William Pat Jennings.

03 JAN 1969
On this date, after more than 15 years of service in the U.S. Congress, U.S. Marine Corps World War I Veteran, Virginia State Senator, Governor (Virginia) and VA Zeta Brother William Munford Tuck served his last day in Congress as the representative from Virginia’s 5th District.

02 JAN 2000
World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War Veteran, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Renaissance Brother Admiral Elmo “Bud” Russell Zumwalt, Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired) died on this date at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

According to representatives in Richmond/HQ, Admiral Zumwalt was initiated by the Connecticut Alpha chapter in New York City in APR 1985. However, multiple online resources state he was initiated in 1980 including – which contains information confirmed by Navy biographers. To make things a bit muddier, The Journal of Sigma Phi Epsilon Volume 98, Number 1 (Spring 2000) stated, “SigEp mourns the passing of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt (Connecticut '42) who served as Chief of Naval Operations during a turbulent era and was famous for his celebrated "Z-grams." However, Brother Zumwalt never attended Connecticut.

Eagle Scout, high school valedictorian, cum laude graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) and commissioned an Ensign on 19 JUN 1942, he was the youngest naval officer ever promoted to Rear Admiral (one-star) at age 44. At age 49, Bud was the youngest four-star Admiral in U. S. naval history, and the youngest to serve as CNO – the most senior naval officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. In 1998, he was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian award in the United States.

The military accomplishments of Brother Zumwalt cannot be completely displayed due to the magnitude of his service and contributions during his 32 years of active duty service. Go the Naval History & Heritage Command site to read about our renaissance brother - Respect can be paid to Brother Zumwalt in Section 3, Lot Number 0382 at the USNA Cemetery and Columbarium in Annapolis, MD.

06 JAN 2005
U.S. Navy World War II Veteran CA Beta Brother David Raynes Billings was 80 years old when he died on date in Stockton, California from complications associated with Alzheimers. David was born in Los Angeles, CA, and graduated from the University of Southern California in 1946. Per David's wishes, no formal funeral services will be held.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends wishing to remember David contribute to The Alzheimers Aid Society, 105 South Washington, Lodi, CA 95240.

06 JAN 2007
At the age of 77, Korean War and Vietnam War Veteran, NM Alpha Brother Lieutenant Commander Jack C. Bolander, U.S. Navy (Retired) died on this date at McGuire V.A. Hospital in Richmond, Virginia. Jack was born in Clovis, NM. He graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1951, and conducted post-graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California. He was a member of the VFW/DAV, American Legion Post 284, National Sojourner, Gideons, Sea Scouts (leader), Navy League, and Duncan, Oklahoma Lodge #60, AF & AM.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: the Men's Outreach Ministry, Colonial Heights Baptist Church, 231 Chesterfield Ave., Colonial Heights, VA 23834.

Respect can be paid to Brother Bolander at Section 20, Site 525, Quantico National Cemetery, Triangle, VA.

04 JAN 2009
On this date, VA Epsilon Brother Neil Campbell Pascoe died in Naples, Florida at the age 99. A veteran of World War II, Brother Pascoe served in the U.S. Army and was a life member of Private Peter S. Hotalen Post No. 157, and a past Sussex County Commander of the American Legion.

He was born in Easton, PA and resided in Branchville, NJ for many years. He attended the Georgia Institute of Technology and was a graduate of Washington and Lee University's class of 1934. Returning to Branchville after WWII, Brother Pascoe served on the Borough Council, and was a charter member of the Culver Brook Restoration Foundation. He also served as Chairman of the Selective Service Draft Board No. 41 from 1950 to 1969. Prior to his retirement, he was a Senior Vice President and Personnel Director of Selective Insurance Company in Branchville. After moving to Naples, FL, he was a founding member of the Quail Run Country Club.

Respect can be paid to Brother Pascoe at Branchville Cemetery.

Early JAN 2010
While the exact date of his death isn’t listed, the Miami Herald announced on 07 JAN that U.S. Air Force Veteran and FL Gamma Brother Russell Jeffries McGraw, Jr. had died recently. Brother McGraw graduated from University of Miami in 1951, and participated with the Coral Gables Country Club Theater Group. Donations in his memory may be sent to GA Chapter- Alzheimer's Association 1925 Century Blvd., N.E., #10, Atlanta, GA 30345-3315.

Respect can be paid to Brother McGraw at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery, Doral, FL.

04 JAN 2011
On this date, IN Beta Brother Ryan Zipper accepted a United States Air Force health professions scholarship, and was sworn in to the U.S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant.

31 DEC 2011
GA Gamma Brother Lieutenant John Robert O'Neal, Sr., U.S Navy Reserve died on this date at the age of 66. Following high school, John attended Valdosta State College where he pledged SigEp. After graduating from college, Brother O’Neal entered the U.S. Navy and became a pilot. John served his country on active duty for five years, and additionally as a reserve officer. John was honorably discharged at the rank of lieutenant.

Following his military service, he discovered that he had a knack for sales. In fact, he was described as being able to "sell ice to a bartender at the North Pole." After working sales in several industries, John returned to the world of aviation, and spent 32 years as a member of the Sales Department at Eagle Aviation in Columbia, from which he retired in SEP 2011.

John was an active member of the community in the Columbia, South Carolina area. He was a member of the Windermere Club, Blythewood, and a former member of the Rockbridge Club.

Respect can be paid to Brother O’Neal at Section 3, Site 415, Fort Jackson National Cemetery in Columbia.

02 JAN 2012
World War II Veteran and VA Alpha Brother Major John Thomas Watkins, Jr., U.S. Army Air Corps died on this date in Morganton, North Carolina. Brother Watkins graduated from the University of Richmond in 1940, and joined the Army Air Corps in NOV 1940. In 1941, he graduated from advanced flying school, and on 08 DEC he left Langley Field, VA with the 22nd Bomb Group for Australia. John was in action until JUL 1944, when he was transferred home. He was separated from the service as a Major in 1946.

John was born in Richmond, Virginia, attended public schools in the city and while in college, he rowed for the Richmond Crew and the Virginia Boat Club. After college, Brother Watkins spent his career in business working for Travelers Insurance Company, Monsanto Chemical Company, Fabricon Products, and Watkins Machine Sales, which he founded, and his level of civic involvement would be tough to beat.

In 1981, John and his wife retired to Morganton where John was involved in many civic activities including Director of Economic Development, president of the Friends of the Library, the Morganton Kiwanis Club and the Western Piedmont College Foundation. He was active in the Burke County Chamber of Commerce, participated in fundraising for the Phifer Learning Center, and co-chaired the Burke County United Way. Additionally, he assisted in the restoration of the Quaker Meadows House, helped construct homes with Habitat for Humanity, repaired bicycles for Christmas Cheer, and tutored for the Literacy Council. John was honored as the Morganton Rotary Club's "Man of the Year" in 1996, and was a participant in the development of the Burke Mission Station where he served on the Board of Directors, as well as in the soup kitchen and as building manager.

There were no funeral services, but memorials may be made to the Scholarship Fund at Grace Ridge Retirement Community, 500 Lenoir Rd., Morganton, NC 28655.

05 JAN 2012
On this date, U.S. Army World War II Veteran NC Beta President James Lee Holloway died in North Carolina. During WW II, James served in the Philippines with the 38th Infantry Division. After the war, James brought his leadership to NC State University (NCSU) and graduated in 1950.

He was born in Durham, NC, and after leaving NCSU, he worked for Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical for 33 years, retiring in 1988.

Memorials may be made in honor of Brother Holloway to Gideons International, P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, TN 37214-0800; Pearsall Memorial Presbyterian Church, 3902 Market St., Wilmington, NC 28401 or Lower Cape Fear Hospice Life and Care Center, 1414 Physicians Dr., Wilmington, NC 28401

In 2011, CA Alpha Brother Charles Coassin and MI Epsilon Brother Eric Redding received their commissions as Ensigns in the U.S. Navy.


  • U.S. Coast Guard Korean War Veteran and OK Gamma Brother William H. "Bill" Curry Jr. passed away 19 DEC in Oklahoma.

  • U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and TN Theta Brother Jim Wiseman passed away 30 DEC at the age of 71 in Nashville from complications due to cancer.

  • Korean War Veteran OK Alpha Brother and Staff Sergeant William Thomas Dingler, U.S. Air Force passed away 31 DEC in Oklahoma City at the age of 82.

  • World War II Veteran and MA Beta Brother Richard “Richie” E. Howard passed away 03 JAN in Worcester, Massachusetts. A funeral will be held tomorrow at Callahan and Fay Brothers Funeral Home, 61 Myrtle St. with a Mass at 10:00 AM in Our Lady of the Angels Church, 1222 Main St. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Our Lady of the Angels’ Family Campaign Fund at 1222 Main Street, Worcester, MA 01603.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the chapter brothers, family and friends of SigEp Patriots Curry, Wiseman, Dingler and Howard.

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