Retired Soldiers share Fort Rucker's Sanford Hall namesake history
Retired Cols. Erneast "Frank" Estes, left, and William Giese pose in front of the new addition to Fort Rucker's Sanford Hall March 26. Estes succeeded Maj. Jackie Sanford whom the hall is named after when he was killed in Vietnam. Giese, Sanford's lifelong friend, donated the photo.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Two retired Soldiers shared Sanford Hall\'s namesake history March 26 with future leaders who train at the facility.

Retired Col. William Giese donated a large photo of his friend, the late Maj. Jackie W. Sanford, who was killed in action during the Vietnam conflict.

"I wanted Sanford Hall to have an appropriate rendition of its namesake," said Giese, noting he visited the hall previously and noticed the lack of a photo of Sanford in his element before he was killed.

Sanford began his military career as an enlisted Marine in June 1946, according to information displayed around the facility. After completing his Marine Corps service, he enlisted in the Army in 1949 and later received a commission as a second lieutenant in the infantry in January 1955. He served in Europe, Japan and Korea prior to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, Sanford joined the 13th Aviation Battalion "Delta Battalion" operation in the Mekong River Delta, south of Saigon. As a member of the "Outlaws," he flew UH-1 Hueys in lift and air assault operations against the North Vietnamese.

On June 16, 1965, heavy fire hit his helicopter and it exploded when it hit the ground, killing him.

Giese remembered Sanford, who he was stationed with in Europe and Vietnam, as a friend. He talked about the two-week vacation he and Sanford took across Europe.

Retired Col. Erneast "Frank" Estes, who had to fill Sanford's shoes when he took over command of Sanford's unit for the rest of its Vietnam tour, described Sanford's leadership abilities.

"If you want to know what a leader looks like, acts like and is, just look at this photo," said. "He was a great man, a smart man and a quiet man. He was a Soldier's Soldier - the kind of leader you knew would take care of you. Now, thanks to Col. Giese, you are getting a piece of history back in your unit."

Estes recognized the need for older generations to share their combat stories.

"I've been in your place many times, thinking 'What are these old guys doing here and talking about''" he said. "We're here to remind you about our history. I envy you, what you folks are getting in to. You are beginning your careers as professional Soldiers. I know there is at least one 'Sanford' in your group."

Giese agreed, adding he felt there was more than one Sanford in the assembled formation.

"These things are important because it gives people a line into history," he said. "You have to do things with the history to share it with new Soldiers. It's great to see young guys starting their careers and to share our history with them."

For students in a unit that teaches the fundamentals of leadership and soldiering with an emphasis on combined arms operations, learning about past battles from men who fought in them was just as important as hitting the books, they said.

"For one thing, it inspires you. It reminds you what you're doing and what your job is," said 2nd Lt. Andy Gorrospe, D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment.

Other Soldiers agreed.

"In our culture and profession, it is critical for us to know our history and professional ethos of those before us," said Lt. Col. Mike Burns, 1st Battalion, 212th Aviation Regiment commander. "It's about those who fought the conflict. It's important to know the types of people who fought during other conflicts are the same as us today. The Army is one of the most trusted government institutions. In order for the Army to continue to be an organization the American public holds trust for, our new leaders must know about the leaders like Sanford."

Page last updated Thu April 1st, 2010 at 12:29