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John B. Oliver
11/5/38 – 11/18/75

John Brooks Oliver

Class Memorial Pages\E-1 Jack Oliver.pdf

John Brooks Oliver was a Bay City, Michigan, native, a University of Michigan alumnus, and a proud member of the “Second to None” Class of 1961, whose class fund is now named in his honor.

With graduation came selection of the Field Artillery as his branch. Marriage in the Cadet Chapel to his beloved Linda preceded an initial assignment in Hawaii. Serving in a variety of battery-level positions, John’s lieutenant-hood indicated great potential based on demonstrated job performance and mission accomplishment. The fundamentals of Field Artillery were deeply ingrained in John and would become the cornerstone for his career development. Selection as an aide-de-camp to the division’s commanding general enabled him to gain a first-hand knowledge of leadership, command, and staff operations. As a commander of a direct support field artillery battery in Vietnam, John drew on his knowledge of field artillery and demonstrated his leadership of troops in combat. The result was responsive fire support for the infantrymen locked in combat with an elusive enemey provided by inspired soldiers who were responding to a dedicated commander.

Accelerated promotion to major was a reflection of John’s early career performance and an indication of his career potential. Assignment as a Tactical Officer at West Point was a pleasure for John and a unique experience for the cadets of his company. He led them, counseled them, fought battles with the academic departments for them, and laughed with them. His reward was their graduation and entry into the Army. He cherished their friendship and, as their paths crossed at Fort Sill, he would enjoy being kidded that they had risen from cadet to Army captain, while he remained a major.

John left West Point for Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. His graduation was followed by a second tour to Vietnam with duties as a battalion executive officer and staff officer with the Vietnam assistance program.

John then came to Fort Sill. Here in a research and development capacity, John was the representative of the entire Field Artillery with the most direct responsibility for the development of the TACFIRE, the computerized system of the future. John’s success as a combat developer is measured best by TACFIRE, which is now planned for fielding ahead of schedule. This is due primarily to John’s extensive knowledge of the Field Artillery and his ability to communicate his knowledge to the civilian contractor. At the time of his sudden death, he was preparing for a day of work with the civilian contractor/builder of TACFIRE. A posthumous award of the Legion of Merit provides a measure of his success in this challenging role.

Posthumous promotion to lieutenant colonel and almost certain designation as a battalion commander complete the legacy of John Oliver. The troops he would have commanded will miss him and their chance to follow a man who had carefully prepared prepared himself as a professional leader of men. His friends miss his cheerful smile, quiet dedication, honesty, and sincerity. Mom and Dad miss a son of whom they are deservedly proud. Daughter Amber misses a dad who loved her, who enjoyed sharing in her activities, and who cherished their friendship. His wife Linda misses his love, warmth, and a unique relationship.

And so, with a quiet suddenness, it was ended with a massive heart attack. In the mid-years of life, the only dreamed-of death became a solemn reality.

To all who miss him:

“When you are sorrowful, look again in your heart, and you shall see that, in truth, you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”

On 24 November 1975 amid friends, classmates, and familty, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver was laid to rest with full military honors in the cemetery of his alma mater.

West Point — your son has come home.

Originally published in ASSEMBLY, December 1977.

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