Back to Last Roll Call Home Page   

Bruce P. Holmberg
"Bruce"

Company C-1

20 Feb 1939 - 26 Jan 2009

Place of Death: Bethesda Naval Hospital, MD

Interment: West Point Cemetery.

It is with great regret and sorrow that we must inform you of the death of our classmate, Bruce Holmberg, on January 26, 2009 at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD, after a long and courageous battle with multiple myeloma.  Bruce is survived by his wife, Joan, their daughters, Anne Lauritzen and Leigh Rand, and four grandchildren. 

A graveside service was held at 1000 hrs on Friday, 6 February 2009 at the West Point Cemetery.  A luncheon followed at the Thayer Hotel. 

Bruce graduated from the United States Military Academy in June 1961 (order of merit 26 of 534) and was commissioned in the Artillery.  He earned his jump wings and Ranger Tab at Ft. Benning, GA, and, upon completion of the Artillery Officers Basic Course at Ft. Sill, OK, he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Ft, Bragg, NC.  Bruce served in Vietnam in 1966-67 and attended the Artillery Advanced course at Ft. Sill in 1967.  After a three year tour in the Tactical Department at West Point, Bruce received his MBA at Farleigh Dickenson University in 1971.  In addition to serving in several Field Artillery command positions in Korea and Europe, he graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College and Army War College.  In 1983 Bruce was assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and retired in 1984.  His military awards include the following: Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, three awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Bronze Star with “V” for valor, Bronze Star with 2 oak leaf clusters, Air Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, 383 Main Avenue, 5th Floor, Norwalk, CT  06851.

Condolences may be sent to the family at 1351 Sweet Pea Path, Crownsville, MD  21032-2020.

Well done, Bruce.  Be thou at peace.

Tributes:

Article from the Spring 2004 Edition – MYELOMA FOCUS – Newsletter of the MMRF

After being diagnosed with multiple myeloma in May of 2000, Bruce Holmberg retired from his job at an engineering firm, determined to live life to its fullest.  Three and a half years later, he's doing just that-beyond his or his doctor's first expectations and thanks to the help and hope he found through the MMRF.  When Bruce first retired, he thought he would spend his days skiing and fly-fishing. He hasn't forgotten his love of the great outdoors, he has found a new passion to occupy his days.  Bruce has what he describes as a "new full-time job." He volunteers for the MMRF and spends months recruiting myeloma patients to go to Washington and tell their stories to Congress on Blood Cancer Advocacy Day.  It's a job that takes detailed organization, planning, and great interpersonal skill.  "We start in December and work straight through the summer, recruiting advocates from all over the country and making sure they're prepared to meet with their Senators and Congressmen."  Before sending the advocates to Capitol Hill, Bruce gives them a "layman's lesson on how to lobby" and encourages them to tell their personal stories, while asking for congressional support.  In addition to his work with Advocacy Day, he has become an MMRF "myeloma mentor".  He presents his story to pharmaceutical companies, physician organizations and support groups to spread the information and hope that has brought him out of retirement'.  Thank you Bruce for being such a valuable MMRF volunteer.

Remembrances:

Class Memorial Pages\C-1 Bruce Holmberg.pdf

Today I received the sad news that Bruce Holmberg has lost his long and arduous battle with cancer.  He will be missed by his Family, Classmates, close friends, and those of us he has been working with while volunteering his time and energy to our Wounded Warrior Mentor Program.   A special thanks to Bruce for everything he has done for our Wounded Warriors - "Well done; Be thou at peace".  

 Dick Buckner '61

Bruce was a real warrior, a captivating guy, full of energy and a lust for life. I didn't know him for a long time but came to respect him and admire his courage under unbelievable set-backs in his fight to beat his disease. I remember him wanting to have both of his hips replaced at the same time even though he was taking heavy medications for melanoma. He said he wanted to get back on the ski slopes. I know I will miss him and think that we have lost a gifted leader and friend.  

John Herren '58

Bruce was a special man – an inspiration to those of us who knew him well. He cared immensely about everything he did. He fought through pain, sickness, and setbacks like no one I have known, all with a determined, positive attitude. Our friendship went back to Beast Barracks days when we met during in “Corps squad screening” for football. We then spent four years together in adjacent companies, often in the same academic sections. He was an athlete, scholar, and friend. We’ve lost a great member of our team.

Cy Shearer '61 

Wounded Warrior Mentors,

It is with sadness that I have to notify all of you that Bruce Holmberg passed away on Jan 26 at Bethesda Naval a fight of several years with multiple-myeloma. Several of you already have received word on Bruce's passing but the purpose of the message is to insure that everyone gets informed. 

Bruce came into our program three years ago when his Class of 61 joined our mentoring program.  I cannot add enough thanks or praise for the many creative efforts and contributions Bruce added to our program during the next two years before he had to limit his efforts due to his sickness. Bruce was a unique individual, All Army leader, avid skier, cyclist and a major 'hands on" worker/leader who made major contributions to our Program. Since I did not know Bruce before he joined our program, I was fortunate to observe and learn first hand his talents during the next two years. On the Army piece, I was fascinated by the his army career and how he had served in every division in the Army, several in combat..  It turns out he was a Tac at West Point as well. Bruce was an operations officer type who really jump started the growth of our organization from the small 58 nucleus to what it is today. Our program was the direct beneficiary of his people, organizational and technical skills learned during his many years as an Officer in the Army and in a following successful civilian life. His work with the WW Transition Brigade, the program recruiting effort and his his mentoring efforts with several severely injured Wounded Warriors were sorely missed when he had to pull back from the program. We missed him then and his passing is a major loss to our program.

To Bruce's family and his wife Joanne we offer our deepest sympathy. We can celebrate his life and have comfort that he is in a better place. 

Lee Miller '58

It was painfully inspirational to watch Bruce Holmberg courageously refuse to stop trying to help others.  We all saw him struggle to maintain focus and block out his own suffering so that he could help ease the suffering of our wounded veterans. At times when most people would just sit down and feel cheated, Bruce invested the last strength he could muster, caring about everyone but himself. He is truly a hero.

Bruce and his family are in my prayers.

Heather Bernard

I can only second all of your comments. Bruce was one teriffic guy. Just as one example, who else, with cancer and severe pain in his legs, could lead a motorcycle escort of two busloads of Walter Reed Wounded Warriors into Gettysburg, as he did on Memorial Day a year ago. We will dearly miss him. May he rest in peace.

Hank Kenny '61

In addition to all of us losing a great man, I lost a close and good friend!  I am deeply saddened but will endeavor to carry on his work in his name.

Jon Dodson ‘68

Bruce,
I did not know you well but through email and family contacts. I know your struggle though and the sense of security you surrounded your family with.  It is not that you have left us, but what you have left behind you that will be remembered and allow me to know you more.

 Travel safe to your sanctuary.

Wendy Holmberg

Bruce, you will be greatly missed by Steve and I on our yearly fly fishing trips to the Yellowstone and Henry's Fork. You always managed not to be skunked and as tough and persistent as you were we thought you would go on licking this thing as well. I can still hear you cursing the weeds at Harriman's Ranch! We will always think of you on our future trips so that you will still be there with us to enjoy one of your favorite past times. God bless you and keep you always with one more cast to throw.

Mark Jordan

I have searched for words that will somehow lessen the blow of Bruce's passing, thinking surely this word-smith had something to offer, but I find myself seemingly searching in a bare bin.

Bruce provided well for his family; the recent acquisition of the new house reflects his devotion in that it is exactly where it needs to be. He had an awesome career serving his country and even in this day and age there are those of us who find that most admirable.

I am a firm believer that we live on in another plane or dimension after passing from this world; I believe that we are here to learn something and no one can tell you what that is. If we have learned we go on, if we haven‚€™t we come b! ack, not as Bruce, but with innate talents as someone new until we learn what is required. Bruce was a quick study, knew early on what he wanted and gave it all the gusto it required of him; I wish I could have done that.

I had the opportunity to pass on some thoughts about how one could deal with trauma, learned from my own bouts with that, and one thing he especially liked was just another battle, and I am Warrior!Ě

So, my brother, check on Mom and Dad, all your loved ones passed, save me a seat and I will see you when I get there.

Don Holmberg

Obituaries:

HOLMBERG Col. Bruce P. Holmberg USA (Ret.) Passed away on January 26, 2009. Born in 1939 in St. Paul MN, he was the son of the late Donald and Betty Holmberg. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1961 and proudly served his country until retirement in 1984 when he and his family made their home in Rockville, MD. He was a devoted volunteer for the Multiple Myeloma Cancer Research Foundation, the Ski Liberty Ski Patrol, where he served as director, and the Wounded Warrior Mentor Program at Walter Reed Army Hospital. His loving family includes his wife, Joan D. Holmberg; his daughter, Anne Lauritzen, her husband Brian and children Daniel and Kristen; daughter, Leigh Rand, her husband David and children Matthew and Allie. He is also survived by his devoted sister and brother, Kristen Behan of Washington and Donald Holmberg, Jr. of Texas. Services and burial will take place at West Point, NY on Friday, February 6 at 10 a.m. Memorial contributions may be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), 383 Main Avenue, 5th Floor, Norwalk, CT 06851.

Published in The Washington Post on 1/30/2009

Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:

Bruce P. Holmberg  1961

Cullum No. 23307-1961 | January 26, 2009 | Died in Bethesda, MD
Interred in West Point Cemetery, NY

 

Bruce Peter Holmberg was born to serve. His life story reflects his intense and total commitment to excellence in service to our nation and its institutions and his devotion to his family and friends. He was both brilliant and committed, intense and eclectic, thoughtful and outspoken, a gifted patriot who pursued a unique path throughout his life.

Bruce was born February 20, 1939 in St. Paul, MN to a military family. He attended high school in Paris, France, in the period of his fatherís service there during the post-World War II occupation. As a West Point cadet, his extraordinary talents were quick to emerge. He wore academic stars, was selected as a cadet regimental captain and was on the intercollegiate swimming, lacrosse and track teams. He was commissioned from West Point as a second lieutenant in 1961, choosing Field Artillery, since his father was also an Artillery officer. During his military career he served in six divisions: the 82nd Airborne, the 24th Infantry, the 1st Infantry, the 2nd Infantry, the 7th Infantry and the 3rd Infantry. He held command positions in all six divisions, from battery commander to division artillery commander. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star for valor; three additional Bronze Stars and three Meritorious Service Medals, plus the Air Medal and Army Commendation Medal. He completed his assignment at division level as 3rd Infantry Division chief of staff in Wurzburg, Germany and then reported to the Pentagon to serve as assistant to the Armyís G-3. During his military career he also attended all the appropriate career schools, including Airborne (Senior Parachute Wings), Ranger, advanced Artillery course (an honor graduate), Nuclear Weapons, Armed Forces Staff College in Virgina and the Army War College in Pennsylvania. While serving as a company tactical officer and regimental S-1 at USMA, he earned an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. On his retirement, Bruce became executive VP and partner in an automotive crash safety engineering firm. In this position, he approved contracts addressing improvements in safety for occupants of Army ground vehicles.

Itís a cold January day, 1961, and the Corps of Cadets has traveled to Washington, DC to march in President John F. Kennedyís inaugural parade. It was on this weekend that Bruce met his future wife, Joan Davis, a junior at the University of Maryland. After her graduation they were married at Fort Myer, VA, in June 1962. Joan, a native Marylander and always an enthusiastic Maryland supporter, returned to the University of Maryland to teach after Bruceís retirement from the Army. Bruce and Joan were married for 46 years before his passing and have two daughters, Anne and Leigh, both of whom married military officers. After graduating from William and Mary in Virginia, Anne went on to become an Army Intelligence officer. Bruce was always proud of his daughters, sons-in-law, Brian and David, and his four fine grandchildren: Daniel, Kristen, Matthew and Allie.

Bruceís activities, interests and hobbies reflected his lively intellect, zest for challenges, and wide-ranging talents. He joined the National Ski Patrol and was the Liberty Mountain Patrol director for several terms and also served as the Liberty Mountain Patrol representative to the Wounded Warrior Skiing and Snowboarding Program. In addition, Bruce was also a mentor in the West Point Wounded Warrior Program at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, DC. He was nationally recognized for his volunteer efforts supporting the Multiple Myeloma Cancer Research Foundation and traveled around the United States speaking as a multiple myeloma survivor to groups of patients and medical personnel. Ever adventurous, he belonged to a motorcycle club that rode in the annual DC area Memorial Day Parade as part of Rolling Thunderóhe loved his Harley! His daring ventures didnít end on the groundóhe also piloted his own airplane. An avid fly-fisherman, he made annual excursions to enjoy fishing the rivers of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. With friends who also practiced archery, they hunted carp with bow and arrows in the roiling waters of Great Falls, VA. Bruce was also a highly skilled craftsman who created fine furniture in his extensive basement woodworking shop, and family members will treasure the furniture he designed and built, such as their elegant dining room table, for generations to come. His grown daughters still cherish the Victorian doll house he created for them when they were little girls.

Bruce contracted a deadly form of blood cancer, multiple myeloma, after retirement from the Army; itís suspected that it resulted from his time in Vietnam during the war. Although he felt blessed to enjoy several years in remission after the initial diagnosis, he died at Bethesda Naval Hospital (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) on January 26, 2009, with family at his side. This warrior had bravely and forcefully confronted a terrible disease and set the standard for courage in adversity. He is now at peace and buried at West Point. Simply summarizing Bruce Holmbergís amazing biography does not do justice to this talented and brilliant man. He was one of a kind who left this life too early, with so much more he wanted to accomplish. 

Written by classmate Bob Rosenkranz in collaboration
with Joan Holmberg