Alexander Earl Halls – Colonel, United States Army

Courtesy of his classmates, USMA Class of 1946

Alexander Earl Halls No.15462 Class of 1946

Died 4 July 1993 In Potomac, Maryland, aged 68 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.


Alex Hall was born 22 December 1924 in Galt, Ontario, a small Canadian town where his Scottish ancestors had settled in the 19th century. When he was quite young, his family moved to Pleasant Ridge, Michigan. His Lincoln High School,  Ferndale, Michigan friends recalled that Alex was an excellent student with major strengths in the sciences. He was on the track team, but his best sport was hockey, the result of his Canadian heritage. After graduation from high school, Alex attended Wayne University in Detroit for a year before receiving an appointment to West Point on the basis of a civil service competitive exam. He joined the Class of 1946 on 1 July 1943.

Cadet life posed no problems for Alex. One of his roommates, Colonel Rob Rufsvold (Ret) recalled: “Alex Halls was a man of steadfastness, integrity and consummate good humor. He took the vicissitudes of plebe year in stride and never seemed to be really bothered by the harshness of the system.” Their other roommate, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph LaRock (Ret), remembered: ‘There is one important characteristic that Alex had as a cadet: he never denigrated anyone. If he couldn't say something good about someone, he said nothing. He was quiet, good natured and had a very high sense of morals.” After graduation, Alex pinned on the bars of a second lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps.

Following basic schooling at Camp Lee, Virginia, Alex attended Stanford University, where he received a Master's Degree in Business Administration. It was there that he met the love of his life, Betty Heaslett, whom he married on 13 June 1948 in Palo Alto, California. Alex spent his entire military career in the logistics field, including six overseas assignments: two on Okinawa and one each in Korea, Vietnam, France and Iran. In Iran, as ARMISH MAAG J4, he managed the largest Foreign Military Sales Program that the United States Government had in the early 1970s. This program totaled some 700 contracts of approximately five billion dollars. His commanding officer, Major General Ellis W. Williamson (Ret) stated: “Alex Halls was one of the most cooperative, industrious and effective officers I have ever known.”

In Vietnam, Alex served as executive officer to the MACV J4 and as head of the Logistics Element in the MACV Operations Center. Other assignments included two years as commanding officer, Supply and Transportation Battalion, 5th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado. He taught in the ROTC unit at North Carolina State University and at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was a graduate of C&GSC and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Alex retired in 1975 as a colonel.

Following retirement, Alex traveled, did volunteer work, served his church and continued his hobby–playing the stock market. In September 1992, he was diagnosed with leukemia. After hospitalization and chemotherapy, he was in remission for a short while. However, the leukemia came back and Alex died on 4 July 1993. He is survived by his wife Betty; son Andrew; daughters Sandra, Sharon and Mary Beth; and six grandchildren.

A classmate and friend in Alex's retirement years, Albert Wedemeyer, wrote: “Alex had a strong spiritual faith and was an active member of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Potomac. The impressive and moving memorial service at the church was a good indication of the high regard and affection the clergy and congregation had for Alex. The numerous other attendees-including a large number of classmates was another indication of the loyalty Alex inspired in his many friends. Probably the thing I will remember best about Alex was his unflinching courage during the final months of his life while he was fighting leukemia. He continued to display a remarkable serenity in confronting his illness. His usual good sense of  humor never left him right up to the end.”

When his family planned his memorial service, they included in the printed program his cadet photo and write up by Rob Rufsvold in the l946 Howitzer. “His proneness to minimize his achievements, good common sense and steadfast devotion to what he believes is right” were as true in1993 as when penned in 1946.  His son in law Bill Derge delivered a fitting tribute: “And finally, let us not forget those of us for whom he also was a father, though only in law. In a way, we feel a little cheated because we hadn't been given the great joy and privilege of knowing him quite as long as our spouses, who are the lucky ones.”

A friend from Geneva Church, Eleanor Heginbotham, wrote an “In Memorium” to Alex Halls. “Whether working or playing, he was cherished by his family and friends. To a person, they say they cannot remember a ‘more Christian, loving man.' Nor can they think of a time he ever complained or ever said a mean word about another person. As a husband, father, grandfather, son, cousin, neighbor, colleague and friend, Colonel Alexander E. Halls, the boy from Ontario and Detroit whose smiling face greeted those who had come to share the ceremonial moments in his honor, exemplified, without a trace of sanctimoniousness or self consciousness, the simple sounding but difficult to live by rules of John Wesley:

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
As long as ever you can.

Well done, Alex; Be Thou At Peace!

'46 Memorial Article Project and his family

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