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of February, 2004
by Bill Ruth
President, 3rd Armored Division Association


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 reunions.

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 reunion.

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 Association.

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, and Germany.

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.

Association President

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