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Robert Harry Guerzenich
2/20/39 – 2/3/64

Robert H. Guerzenich

Class Memorial Pages\B-2 Bob Guerzenich.pdf

Robert H. Guerzenich, known to his classmates at “Guerz,” was killed in an avalanche on 3 February 1964, while on a skiing holiday with his wife in St. Anton, Austria. He was just two weeks away from his twenty-fifth birthday.

Lieutenant Guerzenich’s untimely death came at the beginning of a very promising military career that began when he entered West Point in 1957. The record that Cadet Guerzenich set testifies that he was of the “stuff” from which exceptional people are made. Battalion training officer 1, Class secretary 3, 2, 1, and Editor-in-Chief of the Pointer are some of the positions he held. He also sang with the Glee Club for four years, was on the staff of the Pointer for four years, and was a member of the Dialectic Society for three years.

In June 1961, Bob was graduated thirty-fourth in his Class. The 1961 Howitzer was not wide of the mark when it described him as “bright, friendly, industrious — and outstanding person blessed with a wonderful outgoing personality.” The ability “for enjoying life to the fullest” was perhaps the most accurate description given to Bob in the Howitzer sketch. He did live life to the fullest, and this, in some small way, lessens the tragedy of his death. Bob’s life was short, but he lived it well. That’s what most of his classmates will remember.

Bob was born to Mr. and Mrs. Harry Guerzenich on 20 February 1939. He was reared in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. He grew up in a good home and attended Croton-Harmon High School where he achieved an unequalled scholastic record while participating fully in sports and student government. He was an active member of the Asbury Methodist Church where he sang in the choir.

His friends and classmates in Croton have not forgotten Bob. They have established a memorial for him in the new library, and have contributed a new bookcase of books in his honor. The members of Bob’s church have also decided to give an award in his name to help a deserving boy go to college.

Bob met Elaine Drollinger the summer after graduation from West Point. It was love at first sight, and, on 6 May 1962, after he completed Airborne school and the Artillery course, Bob and Elaine were married. Shortly afterwards they went to Bob’s overseas assignment in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany.

While in Schwaebisch Hall, Bob served in Battery A of the 37th Artillery, an eight-inch-howitzer battalion. He was fire direction officer, executive officer, and, as of December 1963, battery commander. His enthusiasm, devotion to duty, dedication, loyalty, and effective leadership contributed significantly to the notable success of Battery A and to the battalion’s widely recognized accomplishments. Because his outstanding performance of duty reflected distinct credit upon himself, upon VII Corps, and upon the military service, Bob received, posthumously, the Army Commendation Award.

In September 1963, three months before Bob was made battery commander, a son was born to the Guerzenichs. From the of Peter Robert he will grow into his father’s shoes and be a source of great comfort to Elaine in the coming years. Elaine is delighted by the fact that young Peter looks like Bob, whom she loved dearly. She feels that she “was lucky to have loved Bob even for so short a time. The experiences we shared and the happiness we knew were more than some couples know or share in a lifetime.”

In his eulogy, at the small chapel at West Point, Bob’s pastor said that Bob was a “committed” man. Those who knew Bob, know this to be true. He was committed to Christianity, to his country, to his family, and to life. His deep and abiding faith will bring him eternal happiness that is the due of the young Christian warrior.

— A Friend


This is a Eulogy from a son to his father.

Although he died shortly after I was born, I know inside that he was a good man and took care of me and my mother. I recently visited his grave at West Point and want to make this mark for others to read. Wherever you are now know that your son has a great respect for your life and a gratitude that you and my mother provided a place for me to appear in the world. A part of you lives in me. I am proud to be your son.

Peter Robert Guerzenich Small

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