As President, I feel obligated to call your attention to a
series of events that have occurred these past seven months.
Even though these events were mentioned in Taps this past
November issue, I would like to elaborate on the passing of five
of our past presidents: Russell Steele, LeRoy Hanneman, Bill
Wall, Erwin Sadow and Ernie DeSoto.
I can't recall a period of time when we lost more than two
past presidents during a year. Five in seven months is a sobering
thought, as well as a time to reflect on their achievements and
greatness. There is no doubt that our members will agree that
these past presidents had a tremendous impact on the Third Armored
Division Association. Because of the many hours of hard work,
and dedication of these individuals, the Third Armored Division
Association is at its best.
Ernie DeSoto was very involved in the formative years
of the Association. He was President in 1956 and served on the
Board of Governors of the four national reunions: 1956, 1967,
1986, and 1997. He was involved in three of the four Louisville
Ernie DeSoto and Russ Steele were two of the founding members
of the KIO Chapter in October 1955. At this meeting the name
was selected with members coming from Kentucky, Indiana, and
Ohio. Of the 23 original members, Joe Hunt, Columbus, is the
only one still active.
Ernie DeSoto, along with Bill Edie and Emanuel Baker, past
presidents, provided the leadership to complete the Third Armored
Memorial at Ft. Knox, of which we are all proud.
Those who attended the Wichita Reunion in 1987 will never
forget the eloquent memorial speech that Ernie delivered on that
beautiful sunny Saturday morning in the park across from our
headquarters hotel. John Hoover, Past President, sponsored this
Erwin Sadow passed away October 2, 2003. The Taps
account says Erwin was one of our most active Association members
and was instrumental in starting chapters in Pittsburgh, Milwaukee
and Los Angeles. He was Association president in 1966. Ken Armstrong,
Past President, wrote that Erwin gathered the guys together in
Milwaukee and since then they have met every month for all these
years. I remember Erwin as a quiet, soft-spoken, well-mannered,
deep thinker who had many excellent ideas that were used by the
As we planned our 1994 trip to Europe to deliver 43 plaques,
Erwin worked with the citizens of Codford, England, to locate
a Sherman tank. Once located, he convinced the Board of Governors
to spend $1,000 to buy the tank. Ken Armstrong says, "Erwin
was a heck of a nice guy."
LeRoy Hanneman, Past President in 1987, and Secretary/Treasurer
from 1989-1999, left an impact on this organization. He kept
a tight purse string on our money. During his ten years as Treasurer,
he became the expert at negotiating with hotels. The 51st Annual
Reunion held in Asheville, North Carolina, was a testament and
tribute to LeRoy, who passed away July 17, 2003.
Russell Steele passed away on June 7, 2003, 40 days
before LeRoy. He was President in 1989. Russ was one of the 23
original members of the KIO Chapter and KIO president these past
20+ years. Russ was a quiet, soft-spoken gentleman who went about
his work like a 21-jewel watch. Russ was active in all three
reunions held in Cincinnati.
The year Russ was president he had the task of selecting and
replacing our Secretary/ Treasurer, Bob Calliout, from Louisiana,
who had resigned. The June 1989 newsletter listed the application
and job description for our new Secretary/Treasurer. LeRoy was
selected among a list of three candidates.
We have been a strong organization due to Russ' nominating
skills. He chaired the Nominating Committee for many years. Through
his keen sense of observation and managerial skills, he was able
to seek out the leadership abilities of our Officers and Board
of Governors for nomination. I personally am indebted to Russ
for his faith and trust in me. He nominated me on two different
occasions for President. Russ was one of my mentors.
Bill Wall, another of my mentors, passed away on October
5, 2003. He was president in 1989 and chaired the Sparks/Reno
Reunion. It was during this reunion that I gained a tremendous
amount of respect for Bill as I saw him perform under pressure.
We became friends when we took the battlefield tour in Europe
in 1992. At Bastogne, when we saw a Third Armored Tank with another
Armored Division Plaque, Bill was so mad that he was ready to
remove the plaque. At that instant, with Bill taking the lead,
we decided to come back in 1994 to take part in the big 50-year
celebration of the Normandy Invasion and the Liberation of Europe.
Haynes Dugan identified the towns that should receive a plaque.
Bill, John Danay, Aurio Pierro, and I began to design the plaque.
We scouted the United States for the best price to produce these
43 plaques that were to be placed in England, France, Belgium,
Bill steered the Board of Governors to add to the title of Historian
to our Constitution. Haynes Dugan was selected and is still performing
his duties diligently.
Bill completed dictating his story of moving the Third Armored
Division from Camp Polk to the California Desert in June and
July of 1942, just a month before his stroke. This was the largest
troop movement ever. Thanks to Haynes Dugan for encouraging Bill
to get this done. The story is now in our archives.
There is a Chinese proverb that says, "When an old person
dies, a library is lost." We can thank these five past presidents
for their hard work, dedication, and love for their Third Armored
Division. Our children, grandchildren and future generations
will benefit from their unselfish and untiring efforts.
Years fly by. Time, like a river, flows silently and incessantly
by us and a little way onward, falls into an ocean of eternity.
We, symbolic as leaves of a tree that continually fall, are carried
away by that swift current of time.
Well done, our good and faithful servants.