John Joseph Madigan III – Colonel, United States Army

Colonel Carried On His Family's Military Tradition With Fervor
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of The Washington Post
Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Madigan family has seen a lot of military service. Four generations have served, suiting up for the major conflicts of the past century. Retired Army Colonel John J. Madigan III, who died May 4, 2009, at 80 after a fall at his Fairfax County, Virginia, retirement home, was the grandson of a Marine Corps veteran and the son and father of career soldiers. He twice served in the Old Guard at Fort Myer, an elite ceremonial unit, and was a veteran of the Vietnam War. He spent the latter half of his 30-year career in intelligence.

In a family that prided itself on patriotism and tradition, Colonel Madigan also had a wry sense of humor. Enamored of composer John Philip Sousa after serving two tours in the Old Guard, whose ceremonies are often conducted to Sousa marches, he had a special way of rousing his children.

“This is how Dad would wake us up for church on Sunday: loud John Philip Sousa music,” said his eldest son, retired Army Colonel John Philip Madigan, 52, who got his name from the composer and later served in the Old Guard.

The first John J. Madigan came from Ireland in the late 19th century, settled his family in Washington, became a liquor dealer and served for a period in the Marine Corps. Two of his children became Army doctors: Patrick Madigan was an Army surgeon whose name graces the Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, Washington, and Colonel Madigan's father and namesake retired as a Colonel and was for a time General George C. Marshall's physician.

John Joseph Madigan III was born at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on January 11, 1929, and grew up in Washington, where he graduated from St. John's College High School. Unable to win an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., he instead attended Georgetown University's foreign service school and joined the Army in 1954.

He went on to receive a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, master's degrees in public administration and liberal studies from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania and Georgetown, respectively, and a doctorate in adult education from Virginia Tech.

While at Georgetown, he met Ann “Nancy” Curran at a mixer. They married in October 1955 and had five children, all of whom survive. The family moved into a house in Springfield in the late 1960s, which remained Colonel Madigan's residence until he was widowed in 1997.

After a heart attack in 1977, Colonel Madigan gave up smoking and began running. Within a few years, he retired from the Army and began a second phase of his life. He was a tax official with the state of Virginia for many years and also an adjunct professor teaching national security studies, technical writing and other subjects at area colleges.

Colonel Madigan's family, including two former members of the Old Guard, gathered at Arlington National Cemetery on July 31 to say farewell to him. Tom Madigan, 50, who had served one tour in the Army, said that after so many of his family's experiences working ceremonies there during terrible weather, the fact that it poured buckets was “almost fitting” for his father.

And as John Joseph Madigan III was guided to his burial site, with rain pouring down, there was one more fitting element: the music of John Philip Sousa.

Thursday, August 6, 2009
Army legacy remembered, honored
By Debra Preitkis MDW Public Affairs

Between them, Tom and J.P. Madigan had taken part in hundreds of military funerals with The Old Guard. But July 31, 2009, more than a decade later, they stood under a canopy in the pouring rain at Arlington National Cemetery as sons paying tribute to their father.


Then 1st Lt. John Madigan participates in ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns in 1956 at Arlington National Cemetery.

The familiar elements of an Army full honor funeral were performed in their presence for Colonel (Retired) John J. Madigan III. The Army Band marched down ‘‘White Line Road” to the beat of muffled drums to take a spot in Section 30 near the opened grave where 12 years earlier a wife and mother had been laid to rest.

The Old Guard’s Caisson Platoon arrived with the casket, to be borne off to the site by a team of eight Soldiers. A caparisoned horse, riderless, but with boots reversed in the stirrups — representing the colonel looking back for the last time at troops he once commanded — trailed. A formation of Soldiers, rain beating a tattoo on their caps, marched behind, the escort platoon.

Tom, J.P. and the rest of Nancy and John’s Family — five children and a good number of their dozen grandchildren — arrived with Family and friends in automobiles and walked with umbrellas behind the casket team, following Monsignor Dominic Ashkar. The band played a solemn hymn.

As a grandson of a Marine and son and nephew of Army doctors, Madigan entered the Army after attending Georgetown University. His first duty station was with the Old Guard. And later he returned as a field grade officer, seasoned with tours in Vietnam and Korea.

It was a legacy kept by sons J.P. and Tom.

J.P. also served two tours with the Old Guard, Tom, one. Between the father and two sons, they participated in more than 1,000 funerals, four state funerals and four presidential inaugurations.

The hillside where the Family stood was familiar. Not only does their mother lie there, but also their paternal grandparents are nearby and other past associates.

‘‘That whole section — they all knew each other from serving in southeast Asia,” said daughter, Jean Judge. ‘‘We’re happy to have names we know nearby.”

The Monsignor spoke the words of committal, and the officer in charge raised his hand in salute. Seven Soldiers raised their weapons and fired a volley, lowered, then raised and fired again. Three volleys, each expected, each startling.

Reaching across the casket, the Soldiers who bore the remains and held the flag taut over them, began the series of folds as Staff Sergeant Ryan Spacht sounded ‘‘Taps.”

Captain Steve Gieser brought the American flag that had covered their father’s grave to the eldest son, J.P., and formally thanked the Family, ‘‘on behalf of a grateful nation.”

And as they have been doing for more than 30 years, an Arlington Lady, Willo D. Grimes, kneeled down next and offered words of condolence and offers of help.

Madigan died May 4, following complications from a fall at The Fairfax, a Fort Belvoir retirement community. He was 80 years old, but had been active, teaching courses for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Funeral services at St. Bernadette’s in Springfield, Virginia, first brought the Family together. ‘‘It’s beginning to sink in,” Tom said at the reception after the burial. Scheduling a full honors funeral takes time. Rain, which the monsignor jokingly said their father must have commanded, won’t cancel one.

The Madigan military legacy covers many years and many wars. Madigan’s grandfather served as an NCO in the USMC. His father, John Jr., and uncles, Joseph and Patrick, were doctors in World War I and II. John Jr. served as personal physician to General George Marshall, namesake of the Marshall Plan that brought hope to Western Europe’s economy and people after the Second World War.

Uncle Patrick Madigan, was called the ‘‘The Father of Army neuropsychiatry” and became assistant to the surgeon general of the U.S. Army and then chief of neuropsychiatry at Walter Reed General Hospital. Madigan Army Medical Center was named in his honor in 1944.

Like his sons, Madigan began his military journey at MDW and served as both a junior officer and a field grade for The Old Guard. Father and son, J.P. share similar pasts as both of their first assignments were in Charlie Company. ‘‘It was an honor for all of us to serve in The Old Guard when you consider its unique missions,” said son J.P. ‘‘All of this was particularly special since it grew into a Family legacy.”

After the funeral service, Family and friends continued to remember Madigan at a gathering in the Fort Myer Officers Club. A video?slideshow that Jean put together portrayed the many sides of the man, but mostly as a husband, father and grandfather.

His daughter said her dad will be remembered for being passionate about the Army, his Family, his teaching, and the Washington Redskins.

His war was Vietnam. He experienced it first as a military advisor, prior to the American buildup. He came back in 1972 as commander of the 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry. He also served during the 1970s as commander of Camp Humphreys in South Korea.

Madigan’s educational dossier is something that grew over time. Madigan attended the Army War College and went on to earn a master’s in public administration at Shippensburg University. After retiring in 1981, he returned to Georgetown University to get another master’s degree and then a doctorate in adult education from Virginia Tech. He taught at four separate Universities simultaneously: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Georgetown University, Central Michigan University and the Lutheran Consortium.

Madigan’s dual focus on the military as well as education came from his own Family’s influence.

‘‘I suspect with his Family’s history of academic excellence, that it was the impetus for him to contribute to his Family,” J.P. said.

Their father’s focus on Family as well on his job made a lasting impact on his own life.

‘‘It was important for him to stabilize us and have his Family intact. His example of us growing up … taking on hard jobs to stabilize the Family … I tried to template that example with my family through my military career,” J.P. said.

The Family legacy in serving their country and serving students continues.

It appears the Madigan military legacy lives on; grandson Tommy tells his parents he wants to join up and continue the Madigan military lineage.

DATE OF BIRTH: 10/15/1933
DATE OF DEATH: 10/13/1997

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