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Roland M. Navarro

Company M-2

10 Dec 1938 - 23 Jul 1961

Interment: Arlington National Cemetery


Class Memorial Pages\M-2 Roland Navarro.pdf

I remember Roland Navarro as one of the first upperclassmen who treated me as a friend. He "recognized" me at the early start of my Plebe Year -- simply because I spoke SPANISH, just like he did at home. Roland belonged to another Cadet Company -- far away from mine -- so we didn't see each other that much. And yet, he invited me to see him, in case I needed help with any problem.

Roland was one of the few friendly faces among the upperclassmen during my Freshman year. We maintained our closeness -- with smiles and greetings for each other -- up to the time he graduated in 1961. He was pleased to learn that I was doing well in all aspects of my training.

It is so tragic that he died in an accident, a few days after graduation.

¡Y ahora, mi último saludo a un amigo!

Brigadier General Ramon M. Ong (Ret.)
Armed Forces of the Philippines


Assembly/Taps Memorial Article:


Cullum No. 23801-1961 | July 23, 1961 | Died in Matehaula, MX
Interred in Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Roland Marius “Pancho” Navarro entered the Academy from Detroit, MI, having received his appointment from Congressman Charles Diggs Jr. of Michigan’s 13th District.

Pancho was a turn back from the Class of 1960 but came into our class with both guns blazing, determined to graduate and earn his commission. Pancho was not your ordinary cadet. He had spent most of his childhood growing up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he first developed a desire to become an army officer. As a cadet, he wore Argentine jack boots, shined everything in sight, and loved all things military. He was not the top scholar in our class, but he must have been one of the hardest workers. He never backed away from his goal of becoming an Infantry officer. This attitude carried over into sports and other activities. 

Pancho’s life closely followed the thoughts of Theodore Roosevelt in his speech to the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” 

Pancho always thought of himself as a boxer and engaged in the Academy’s intramural boxing program. To our knowledge, while he seldom won a fight, he always came out swinging. One day during First Class year, Roland was talking with a group of classmates about what they’d do if they were confronted by ruffians in New York City. Roland quickly offered this advice: “Gentlemen,” he said, “you have to get in the first punch; that way you can control the fight. You hit hard and fast, but hit first!”

Pancho was a handsome, Latin-type man, well liked by his classmates and especially attracted to a wide range of the ladies. But he only dated one, the light of his life, Sue Ferrell. 

Roland and Sue were married the week after graduation in Bethesda, MD. Pancho and Sue bought a beautiful Austin-Healey and went to Mexico for their honeymoon. At the end of July, classmates Bill Weis and Bob Parmele were fishing in the Thousand Islands region of upstate New York when they received a phone call from the New York State Patrol notifying them that Roland had been killed in a car accident in Mexico. Sue was badly injured but eventually recovered. Pancho was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 

An article in the Detroit News on July 24, 1961 stated: “Word of the death of Lt. Navarro was received by his grandmother, Mrs. Ruben Navarro, with whom he lived at 2019 Clairmont.” Following publication of this article, a family member sent a letter to the Association of Graduates, dated August 28, 1961, saying, “Because Roland took such pride in the sense of responsibility taught at the Academy, I feel it is important to emphasize that the accident was caused by mechanical failure rather than personal negligence.”

The Army lost a loyal and dedicated officer who never had a chance to do the job he had wanted. His roommate First Class year was quoted as saying, “After all these years, I think of him often.” 

Roland always lived by the creed of the Academy, especially the thoughts expressed in the Cadet Prayer: 

O God, our Father, Thou Searcher of human hearts, help us to draw near to Thee in sincerity and truth. May our religion be filled with gladness and may our worship of Thee be natural.

Strengthen and increase our admiration for honest dealing and clean thinking, and suffer not our hatred of hypocrisy and pretense ever to diminish. Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy. Guard us against flippancy and irreverence in the sacred things of life. Grant us new ties of friendship and new opportunities of service. Kindle our hearts in fellowship with those of a cheerful countenance, and soften our hearts with sympathy for those who sorrow and suffer. Help us to maintain the honor of the Corps untarnished and unsullied, and to show forth in our lives the ideals of West Point in doing our duty to Thee and to our Country. All of which we ask in the name of the Great Friend and Master of all. — Amen

— Mike Hale and classmates