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Personal Life of Lt. Gen. Snedeker
(Editor's Note: The following comments were prepared by Col. Robert A. Foyle, son-in-law of Lt. Gen. Edward W. Snedeker, for delivery during the funeral mass for Snedeker held May 9, 1995, at Marine Memorial Chapel, Marine Corps Base, at Camp Pendleton.)
By COL. ROBERT A. FOYLE
The first thing one must say about Gen. Snedeker is that he was a devoutly religious Catholic who lived his religion. He is the only man I have known, other than a chaplain, who knelt by his bed at night to say his evening prayers and again in the morning for morning prayers. This only stopped a few weeks ago when it became too difficult to do.
Grace before every meal. This came into sharp focus for me the first time I was invited to Sunday dinner in Quarters 133 at Quantico when he turned to me and said, "Bobby, will you say grace?" With Helen's sotto voice help, I bumbled through. I didn't fail that test again.
Though he changed over the years with the changing liturgy and sang the songs, exchanged the sign of peace and held hands with neighbors for the “Our Father," he could never bring himself to eat other than fish on Friday.
He was a loving husband, a stern but caring father and a doting grandparent. While reading through a family history compiled by his granddaughter, Susan Wright, I came upon a letter he wrote to Minnie (his first wife) while he was sailing to New Zealand on June 3, 1942, their 16th wedding anniversary. It was an eloquent expression of love and devotion and sharing.
If you think about it, here was a man who left for war in 1942 and essentially came back to two grown daughters and two teenagers. This is the stern part: If I had had one-tenth the hack time the girls served, I'd never have gone past lieutenant. But he showed great concern and love for his extended family.
Each of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren--all 35 of them--were the recipients of Christmas and birthday gifts on the right day.
He was a humble man. He sought no self-aggrandizement. After he retired, if you caught him working around the house in his worn and faded sweatshirt, you know he believed it was the man inside the clothes that mattered.
He had two avocations, stamps and flying. His stamp collection is extensive and I'm told his collection of Vatican stamps is one of the most complete there is outside of Rome. He had made arrangements to give his collection to the Marine Military Academy as a gift.
He had a great, wry sense of humor and was greatly respected by his peers and seniors. He made a lasting impression on all those whose lives he touched- -a leader and warrior in every sense, and a fine human being.
After Minnie passed away in 1979, there was a period of loneliness in his life. In 1986 he married Vestena whose love and support enriched both of their lives these last nine years.
As he set off on his last campaign, he was covered by the 1st Marine Division afghan with his beloved Division emblem over his chest. We know he has joined the legion of those Marines who have gone before us, guarding the streets in heaven's scene.
General Snedeker's promotion to Lieutenant General (three stars).
His wife Minnie (Douthit) Snedeker is pinning his stars.
Minnie was the sister of Gladys (Douthit) Freehling of Haigler and Jim Douthit of St. Francis, KS.
The three-star flag presentation
Lt. General Snedeker was the Comandant of the Marine Corps Schools - as far up as you can get as a Marine. This is quite a feat for a graduate of the Benkelman High School.
Printed in the Benkelman, NE Post, May 1995
Edward Walter Snedeker, Lt. Gen.
CARLSBAD, Calif.—Lt. Gen. Edward Walter Snedeker, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), 92, died Friday, May 5, 1995, at his home in Carlsbad, California.
He was born February 19, 1903, in Peoria, Illinois, the only child of Albert Henry and Mabel (Kennedy) Snedeker. He attended schools in Peoria, Dallas, South Dakota, and Benkelman, Nebraska, where he graduated as valedictorian of his class, the largest to that date, in 1922.
He was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1922 and commissioned a Marine second lieutenant upon graduation June 3, 1926. That same day, he married Minnie (Johnson) Douthit of northwest Kansas. To this union four daughters were born: Mary in 1927 at Parris Island, Helen in 1928 in Haiti, Patricia in 1930 in Long Branch, New Jersey, and Eleanor in 1932 during a second tour in Haiti.
The General's first tour of expeditionary duty was with the 11th Marines in Nicaragua from May to August 1927. He was then transferred from Nicaragua to the Marine Barracks at Cape Haitian, Haiti, where he remained until August 1929. He returned to Haiti in January 1931 to serve there until May 1933.
In addition to expeditionary duty he served at various posts and stations in the United States before the war, chiefly in communications.
He also completed the Marine Officers Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the Communication Officers Course at the Army Signal School in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, the postgraduate course in applied communications at the Naval Academy and the Senior Course in the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico, Virginia.
On completing the senior course, he served as transport quartermaster aboard the USS Barnett for six months before he was named signal officer of the 1st Marine Division in June 1941. That September, after participating in landing exercises with the division, he moved with it to New River, North Carolina. He sailed with its advance echelon for New Zealand, via the Panama Canal, in May 1942.
In August of 1942, Snedeker landed with the 1st Division at Guadalcanal.
After fighting in that campaign and serving several months in Australia, he was detached from the division in July 1943 to become signal officer of the 1st Marine Amphibious Corps. Then, following service as an observer at Vella Lavella, he was named Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 (Operations) of the 1st Corps in September 1943. He served in that capacity in the Treasure Island-Bougainville campaign before returning to the United States in January 1944.
That November, after duty at Marine Corps Headquarters as Chief of the G-3 Section, Division of Plans and Policies, he rejoined the 1st Marine Division in the Russell Islands to take command of the 7th Marines.
After leading that regiment in the assault and capture of Okinawa, he returned to Marine Corps Headquarters in October 1945 to serve again as Chief of the G-3 Section. He continued in that capacity until May 1946, then served briefly as Chief of the Instructors Section at Quantico before taking command of the Basic School there in August 1946. He left Quantico in June 1949 to serve on Guam as Assistant Chief of Staff for Plans and Area Marine Officer, Naval Forces, Marianas.
He returned from Guam in July 1950 and departed for Korea later the same month as Chief of Staff of the 1st Provisional Marine Brigade. After the Pusan Perimeter fighting, the brigade was absorbed by the 1st Marine Division and General Snedeker became the division's Deputy Chief of Staff, serving in that capacity in the Inchon-Seoul campaign and the October landing at Wonsan.
In November 1950, he served on temporary duty with the Pacific Fleet Evaluation Group, returning to the 1st Division December 3 to establish a control and regulation post at Chinghung-ni, along the Division's withdrawal route from the Chosin Reservoir. Following that campaign he became the Division's Chief of Staff in February 1951, serving in that capacity until late May 1951 during operations in Central Korea.
On his return to the United States, Snedeker served for a year as Chief of Staff of the 3rd Marine Brigade at Camp Pendleton, California. He was promoted to Brigadier General in December 1951 and, in May 1952, he became Deputy Director of the Marine Corps Educational Center at Quantico where he remained until June 1954. That following month he was appointed assistant commander of the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, serving until February 1955. Promoted to Major General in April 1955, he remained with the 2nd Division until June of that year. On August 1, 1955, he went to Washington to serve as Chief of Staff, G-3, for 2 1/2 years before returning to Camp Pendleton where he commanded the 1st Marine Division. He remained there until his assignment as Commandant Marine Corps Schools, retiring in 1963 to Carlsbad.
Snedeker was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star Medal, the Legion of Merit with Combat "V" and gold stars in lieu of second and third awards, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat 'V', the Air Medal with gold star in lieu of a second award and the Navy Commendation with Combat 'V'.
His other medals and decorations include the Presidential Unit Citation with one silver star, the Navy Unit Commendation, the Second Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, the Expeditionary Medal, the American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with one silver star, the World War II Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal with Asia Clasp, the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with one silver star, the United National Service Medal and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.
He retired June 30, 1963, following 37 years of commissioned service. Subsequent to his retirement. he assisted in the establishment of the Marine Military Academy in Harlington, Texas.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Minnie, on August 14, 1979; two daughters, Mary Agnes Halter and Patricia Ann Elebash, and a great-granddaughter.
On April 5, 1986, he married Vestena N. Burns of Carlsbad. During his 32 years as a Carlsbad resident, Snedeker served on the Carlsbad Planning Commission, on the board of directors of the Boys Club of Carlsbad and as a member of the board of directors of the MiraCosta College Foundation.
He is survived by his wife, Vestena, of Carlsbad; two daughters, Helen and her husband, Robert Foyle, of Reston, Virginia, and Eleanor and her husband, John Wachter, of Carlsbad; 17 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren.
Rosary recital was at 6 p.m. Monday, May 8, 1995, at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Carlsbad. Mass was celebrated at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 9, 1995, at the Marine Memorial Chapel, Marine Corps Base, at Camp Pendleton. Graveside services followed at Eternal Hills Memorial Park at Oceanside, California, with a reception held at Camp Pendleton following interment.
(Editor's Note: The above obituary information was submitted to The Post by Paul Freehling Sr. of Haigler, Nebraska. Freehling's wife, Gladys, who is deceased, was a sister to Snedeker's first wife.)
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