Courtesy of his classmates
United States Military Academy, Class of 1946
John Edward Stannard
No.15850 – Class of 1946
Died 31 October 1993 in Sumner County, Tennessee, aged 71 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery
He earned the Purple Heart and three Silver Stars; commanded in combat on every level from squad to brigade; and achieved the rank of brigadier general, but John Edward Stannard's most cherished honor was his induction into the Infantry Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia for earning the Combat Infantryman's Badge in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
John Stannard was born 3 February 1922 in Kenmare, North Dakota. He finished eighth grade in Rawson, North Dakota in a rural two room school, after which the family moved to Williston, North Dakota. In high school, he excelled scholastically, boxed and played football, gaining all state recognition in the latter. He joined the North Dakota National Guard his junior year, graduated in 1940 and went on to North Dakota State University. His Guard unit, the 164th Infantry, was called to active duty in February 1941, first with the 34th Division in the states; then becoming one of the regiments of the Americal Division, the first Army division to fight in the Pacific at Guadalcanal.
In later years, John wrote a book, The Battle of Coffin Corner and Other Comments Concerning the Guadalcanal Campaign. In typical John Stannard style, he failed to mention that he earned a Purple Heart and a Silver Star for gallantry in action. His leadership also resulted in his being awarded one of two Americal Division appointments to West Point. John became a second lieutenant in the Infantry upon graduation.
John was assigned as a platoon leader in the 25th Division and then the 11th Airborne Division in Japan and at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. John and Llewellyn Fowler were married 26 May 1951 at the Catholic Chapel at Fort Campbell. He joined the 23rd Infantry, 3rd Division in Korea in 1952, served as a company commander and battalion operations officer and was awarded his second Combat Infantryman's Badge. After returning to the states, John served with the 508th Airborne Regiment and instructed at the Airborne School. From Fort Benning, he attended C&GSC at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, then went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 325th Airborne Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. In 1958, the Stannard's traveled to West Point where John served as executive officer for the newly organized Admissions Division, USMA. While there, John attended New York University and received his masters in business administration. Between West Point and his next assignment in J3 division, HQEUCOM, John attended the Armed Forces Staff College. In 1964, John was selected to attend the National War College; then served in the War Plans Division, DCSOPS, Department of the Army. John went to Vietnam in 1967, first to command the 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry; then as brigade commander, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile)/
Gerald Saylor, a platoon leader in C Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry, remembered John as a combat leader: “Intelligence had reliable information that a large NVA unit was operating in the vicinity. We received orders to close with our sister Company B to have sufficient firepower should we encounter what was eventually proved to be the 2nd NVA Regiment. We didn't make it. We were sucked into an NVA ambush and took heavy casualties. Lieutenant Colonel Stannard had coordinated support, including a smoke screen between us and the NVA. However, at dusk he was dropped off at our night position. He visited each of the platoons, encouraging all. A head count revealed we were unable to account for several personnel, including the dog handler and his dog … LTC Stannard organized a volunteer group to search for the missing personnel. All were
recovered, including the dog. For his action that night, LTC Stannard received the Silver Star. I had no contact with General Stannard until several years ago when, in response to a Christmas card, he wrote of the history of Company C as if it had happened yesterday. He spoke of the good men we had lost, identifying each of them by name and date. John E. Stannard remembered. He remembered because he had a deep concern for the welfare of his men.”
When John took command of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry (Airmobile), he selected Vern 0. Peters, (CPT, USA, Ret.) as his command sergeant major. Vern Peters remembered: “John was a very stern person. Having served as an enlisted man, he understood the needs of his men. As brigade commander, John was tops. Any time someone in our brigade was in combat, he was there to support his men. On many missions, John would fly in to pick up the wounded when our air ambulance would not go in. He would not leave a member of his command in trouble if there was any way he could get to them. We had a sergeant missing in action. For four days we checked the area for him, receiving ground fire each time. Finally, on the fifth day we spotted him at the edge of a clearing; down we went, and he hand picked the NCO out. Although we received small arms fire, everyone was safe. John was a good friend and his death is a big loss.” John was awarded a third Silver Star and his third Combat Infantryman's Badge in Vietnam.
Returning to the states, John was assigned to International Security Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1970 and assigned as assistant chief of staff for Plans and Policy, Headquarters, Allied Forces Southern Europe. The Stannards next went to Hawaii, where John joined the staff of CINCPAC. John retired in 1975 and he and Llewellyn settled in Dallas, Texas. After 12 years, they moved to Sumner County, Tennessee.
John Edward Stannard died suddenly from a heart attack on 31 October 1993. He is survived by his wife, Llewellyn; two sons, Dennis and Fred; a daughter, Llewellyn; his mother; two brothers, George and James; and three sisters, Myrtle, Joyce and Gladys.
Jim Cecil, a member of E Company, 164th Infantry, and John's lifetime friend, delivered one of the eulogies: “Public figures die and are subjects of public acclaim, but it is private men and women who are buried and mourned by their families and friends. So it is only appropriate to consider John Stannard as he was perceived by his friends. We in Co E, 164th Infantry, NDNG were proud of John. It was no surprise to us when he became a general. We were impressed with his rank; most of us, enlisted men, had little contact with generals except for an occasional hand salute. Rank did not change John, he still visited on the street corners when he was home on furlough. The public man is now a part of history. The private man, loved by his family and friends and mourned by the aging members of Company E, where his military career began, will live in our hearts forever.”
His daughter, Llewellyn, delivered another eulogy: “Most of you know what a great soldier my father was. You may not know that he was a loving father to my brothers, Dennis and Fred, and to me. When my brothers had paper routes and I rolled papers for them, Daddy built us a paper rolling machine. We were proud of Daddy for building us one — it even worked, sort of. My favorite story about Daddy was when he was going to fix the faulty toaster, once and for all! He sat down at the kitchen table with the toaster in front of him, his tools all set out at hand, and started in on the toaster. Guess what happened? The toaster blew up! Probably the only defeat in ‘battle' he ever suffered. Daddy was rough and gruff on the outside, but he was always there for my brothers and me. We knew how much he loved and cared for us. We will miss him. We love him.”
When his wife was asked to give the character traits that best described her beloved John, she declared simply, ” A man of honor.”
John Stannard was a genuine hero and a natural leader of men. It is with pride that the Class of 1946 declares, “Well Done, John; Be Thou At Peace!”
'46 Memorial Article Project and his wife, Llewellyn
NOTE: His brother, George Willis Stannard, Colonel, United States Army, is also buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard