The Official Electronic Newsletter of the Veterans and Descendants of the
U.S. 17th Airborne Division, WWII
Colonel John Godlove Kormann
517th Signal Company
July 30, 1924-April 29, 2015
Life member of the 17th Airborne Division Association
Past president of the 17th Airborne Div. Assoc. 2000 - 2001
The Scions of the 17th Airborne are saddened to announce the passing of John Kormann, our founder, our inspiration and our hero. Those of us fortunate to have known him have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. He leaves behind our organization, which only he could have built and his spirit will live on forever among us, the Scions. Thank you Colonel, for your hard work, your effortless leadership and your enduring kindness.
John Kormann receiving the German-American Friendship Award, March 19, 2015.
The wake for Col. Kormann will be held on Friday, 5/15/2015 from 3 to 5 PM at the Pumphrey Funeral Home
7557 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814
Give all the Scions a big hug from our family, and tell them they are in our thoughts and prayers. We are planning dad's funeral service for Saturday, 16 May at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church. The service is from 10:00-11:30 a.m., with a reception to follow the service in the church's hall. At 12:30p.m., the funeral procession will form to leave for Rock Creek Cemetery. The burial service is planned for 1:30 p.m. If you and other Scions can make it that would great. I would love to have the 17th Airborne flag at the service or in the reception hall.
Colonel John Godlove Kormann was born on July 30th, 1924 in New York City to John Matthew and Elsie Behr Kormann.
His parents worked hard to bring many of their relatives to America from Europe, and this extended family provided him with a wonderful sense of togetherness growing up. They also helped many others to get passage from Germany, and allowed them to stay in their home. These relationships provided young John the opportunity to speak fluent German from an early age; an advantage that would prove to to serve him during his military career.
School years were typical: curiosity, mischief, Boy Scouts, sports, learning the arts through music and drawing, and helping in the family business and around the house filled his life. College years saw preparatory courses at City College of New York before entering Columbia College in 1942. With the outset of the war this was interrupted, but later completed following his first tour of military service.
The draft board call him on March 17, 1943, where he served in the Army Specialized Training Program from June 1943 through January, 1944, when he joined the 17th Airborne Division at Camp Forrest, TN. He went to parachute school in May of 1944.
Colonel Kormann participated in three campaigns and the Rhineland drop (Operation Varsity) with the 517 SG and the Counter Intelligence Corp (CIC). After the 17th was disbanded, he was transferred to the 82nd Airborne and received his field commission. There he served as Officer in Charge of CIC units and 970th CIC Department in Berlin from December, 1945, through August, 1947.
It was during this assignment that the military had gotten word that the notorious Nazi Martin Bormann was suspected to be in Berlin. The Colonel was ordered to dress in shabby civilian clothes and go about trying to get information. He also posed as a German police officer in similar efforts to obtain information about suspected Nazis still on the loose.
He was demobilized into Army Reserve and returned to Columbia where he completed a BA, MA, and course work for PhD. An expert on U.S. denazification policy, he was hired by the State Department in June, 1950, as a US Resident Officer (Governor) for three counties in occupied Germany.
Later in his 36-year career as a diplomat and Army Reserve officer, his assignments included chairman charged with coordinating reporting of U.S. government agencies from overseas, deputy to U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, counselor of Embassy responsible for support activities for Middle East shuttle diplomacy, U.S. operations for clearing Suez Canal, politico-military adviser in the State Department supervising military assistance to 18 countries and relations with DOD and military services, negotiator for Philippine base agreements and Corregidor Memorial Treaty.
During each of these assignments, Mrs. Kormann was by his side, many times with children in tow. He has often spoken of her input, advice, and support and how he treasured that. She had his back.
During the 1967 Arab-Israel War as OIC of the U.S. Embassy, Bengahzi, Libya, he was highly decorated for leading the defense against the Arab attack on the Embassy, receiving the Award for Heroism--one of the highest awards conferred on a civilian.
The Colonel was active in the early development of unconventional warfare and Special Forces operations. A graduate of the Army War College, he was a Colonel assigned as mobilization deputy director for Special Ops in the Pentagon.
After retiring, he spent a year as an adviser to the Reagan/Bush presidential campaign. He was on the boards of civic and church organizations, and was a frequent speaker and the author of works on foreign affairs and military assistance.
After finding out about the existence of the 17th Airborne Association, he attended his first reunion at Pinehurst, N.C. in 1994. It immediately became clear to his buddies how strong his leadership capabilities were. He served on the Board of Directors, as Historian, Vice-President, President, Chairman of the War Room Dissolution Committee, and Chairman of the Memorial Committee.
For the past 15 years he was a speaker at the Veterans Day wreath-laying Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery.
In 2007, the Association held the final reunion in Hampton, VA. Col. Korrman's buddy Bill Smith decided that he had not had enough; and Col. and Mrs Kormann joined a small group for a weekend. The event has grown over the years and in 2014 there were 70 in attendance.
In 2011, Colonel Kormann seized the moment and showed up with a charter, a mission statement, and an inspirational challenge to organize the sons and daughters who had shown that honoring the 17th Airborne was important. At that reunion, the the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division was born.
Over the years he continued to lead and inspire us; and we have and will continue to keep his legacy alive. Our membership is growing; and we will continue his work as historian as we provide information for the members and take care of our veterans and recognize their sacrifices.
Colonel Kormann married Elsa Wells on June 11, 1949. They had three children--Brad, Andrea, and Matthew. Sadly they lost their beloved Brad to cancer in 2004.
A must read is the Colonel's 2007 autobiography "Echos Of A Distant Clarion". It is available on Amazon. His account of the above-mentioned defense of the Embassy in Bengahzi is as stirring account of honor, bravery, and courage that can be found anywhere.
These stories of the career of this son, husband, father, soldier, diplomat, adventurer, and a man so devoted to serving his country are amazing and inspirational. He will be deeply missed by those who had the honor to be called his friend.
My Thoughts on My Friendship with
Colonel John Godlove Kormann
by Isaac Epps
It is impossible to narrow to a single fond memory to describe and honor my relationship with Col. John Kormann. If I had to, having him consider me to be his friend is a great honor in itself; and that stands for all the men of the 17th Airborne that I have gotten to know over the years.
From the very first time I met the Colonel in 2003 he was engaging, friendly, and was genuinely interested in who I was--he drew me in immediately. I noticed his sense of purpose to put forward the story of the 17th Airborne Division immediately; and I then got it.
Of course, spending time with him at he Association reunions and later in Lancaster and hearing his stories was also such a treat--dare I say Blue Tango??
Hearing his strong voice singing with great commitment as we sang Eternal Father Strong to Save, including his verse for the Airborne, and then Miss Elsa's beautiful and inspired Ode to the Brave is unforgettable.
In 2011 he grasped the moment when, in 2010, Bill Smith at his Lancaster reunion challenged the group to get more of us children of the 17th to attend. He then went way above and beyond by drafting a charter to found the Scions of the 17th Airborne Division---to tap into that group in attendance and light a fire under those of us who were always working for the 17th but scattered with our efforts, and brought us together to form the strong Scions group that we have today. Thank you Col. Kormann for that kick in the rear to get us organized to carry on the legacy of our fathers.
The time between reunions is special for me. Our weekly phone calls were peppered with him telling me of the progress made on the battery of projects that he had on his plate. Getting a stamp to honor the U.S. Paratrooper in Gen. Miley's name---getting the Silver Star for Charlie Jones upgraded to the Medal of Honor for "Fire on Me"---designing the Scions Pen---organizing a reunion for he and all the other Resident Officers who served in Germany after WWII---disposition of our War Room that is stuck at Fort Benning---and the designing of the many certificates he put forward to honor those who get on board and serve are just a few of the efforts he worked tirelessly on trying to push forward.
I hope the Scions can find a way to continue the efforts for him and his constant quest to honor the 17th Airborne Division.
Eventually our phone calls would go into our deciding how to save the world from the moral decay that we both agreed was rampant; and how to get his beloved country back to the sense of pride and honor and sacrifice and to "our finest hour" that it took to get through WWII and the real threats that were in place then. We would end with deciding that we had figured it all out; and then how to get someone in charge to listen!
In one of the last conversations I had with him, he shared that he hoped that his doctors could keep him alive long enough so that he could continue to serve his country.
I recently saw a picture of the Colonel at Arlington during the Veterans' Day Wreath laying ceremony there that he has been doing for years--I saw my sister Barbara's daughter Deborah's young son Jonny standing with the Colonel, and was told that little Jonny had saluted the Colonel at that ceremony---that will be my greatest memory of the passing of the torch; and I will be as proud as ever at that.
He was like a father to me. His inspiration in my life is immeasurable.
I will deeply miss my dear friend, Colonel John Godlove Kormann.
(L to R) Ed Siergiej Jr., Joe Quade, John Kormann and Ben Nothstine at a Lancaster gathering.
A Few Favorite Memories of Colonel Kormann
by Rose Friday, President
Looking back on Colonel Kormann's illustrious life, much will be written about his many lofty achievements. Although I am in total awe of this amazing man, my feelings toward him are more as though he is one of my most-favorite uncles. I have much respect for him, blended with love.
I am honored to have spent some personal time alone with him and Mrs. Kormann. They entertained me with several dinners at their home, as well as a weekend spent at their cabin. Like Peter, my fondest memory would be of an hour spent alone with Colonel, sitting on the dock of Deep Creek Lake. What a priceless treasure it was to sit there, alone in Colonel's company, amidst Nature's beauty that surrounded us. He and I talked one-on-one. He shared some thoughts; we looked back; he explained his vision for us Scions to move forward. Those quiet moments are forever crystalized in my mind's eye. That man was truly mesmerizing.
Any time spent in his company was a gift: Having luncheon at his Officer's Club, listening to his "stories." What a gifted story-teller he was, telling us some about his life's adventures. Being in the audience when he delivered a memorial or inspirational speech. He was a very moving speaker. Attending the memorable receptions at the Kormann's residence. What seasoned hosts the Kormanns were. Colonel would cook up his special meatballs, and serve-up his "legendary" cocktails. All of us sitting in their living room, sharing in song and conversation. Each of us so delighted to be there. What a feeling of "Scion Family" he created there.
But, I can think of two of my favorite memories that I think help to illustrate his personality, as seen through my eyes. For Veterans' Day, when many of us Scions would gather in D.C., we would make a stop at the WWII Memorial. We had a caravan of about 6 - 8 cars. There is no where to park any where remotely close to the Memorial. With the crowds of people and traffic on Veterans' Day, the police really enforce the "No Parking Zone," keeping a close watch for offenders. Police officers on horse-back patrol the area very vigilantly. But, none of that mattered to Colonel Kormann. He would just drive right up in his car, leading us, his "ducklings." He would pull right up to the curb of the Memorial - - directly in front of the entrance. We would all just fall in behind him. We all would hop out of our cars; scurry to our memorial; place our wreath; pose for and snap our photos. We would have our grand ceremony, and all 20 of us would line up for our group photo. Other visitors would stop and ask what we were doing. We would attract attention to ourselves, but before the horsemen police could even figure out what was going on, we were back in our cars, and on our way. The policemen would see us, but seemed to figure that only someone who had the authority would be so audacious as to try to pull that escapade off. But, we always managed to. Colonel didn't seem concerned with "rules" and things would apply to ordinary people. Which he certainly was not. Hats off to you, Colonel Kormann! I sure don't see us trying that again.
I have another "best memory" that I think illustrates what I honor most about that man. He believed that if you are going to do something: do it with your whole heart, passion, and gusto. That is how he went about his life. That is also how he sang.
I have been fortunate enough to have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Colonel and Mrs. Kormann during many church and memorial services. All dressed-up, standing tall and proud. Colonel, with his dearest Elsa at his side. Try to imagine being in a crowd, with everyone singing "How Great Thou Art," or "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Colonel's strong, melodic voice would rise above the others, as he near-belted out the lyrics. That, countered by Mrs. Kormann's sweet, strong-yet-gentler, also powerful voice blending in with his. Either could stand solidly alone. Together, they strengthened each other, becoming something even more beautiful. Together: they were just pure magic. (As for me: I would just be trying to not break into sobs, as their energy was always so electric.)
But, to me, this symbolizes how Colonel and Mrs. Kormann went through 68 years, side-by-side. Both being more than competent. Each complimenting the other. Stand tall. Let your voice be heard. Do all with passion. Lift up your heart. Together, being more than the sum of the two parts. Together, they were simply pure magic.
We will always remember, and be thankful that Colonel Kormann shared with us, his magic. He will never really leave us, as he will always - - fondly, live on in our hearts.
One of Col. Kormann's best stories was his touching tale from his experiences on March 24, 1945, during Operation Varsity.
Click the image below to be taken to a YouTube video of the story. This video was filmed at VFW Post 8672 in Jarretsville, MD at a reception following the funeral for 680/HQ veteran Mick Stinchcomb in 2014.
Col. Kormann's Dedication Address
17th Airborne Memorial
"Field of Sacrifice"
Ft. Benning, Georgia
"Honored Guests, Veterans of the 17th Airborne Division, Family Members, and Friends:
The year has come, the day has arrived and the hour is now. A sacred obligation has been discharged. It is done. The Memorial is before you. It is fitting that we meet on the "Field of Sacrifice" here at Fort Benning and all around us the spirit of heroism, honor and love of country envelopes us. It is fitting that our many fallen, wounded and still surviving comrades should be remembered in this place. "Thunder from Heaven" has resounded in the hills and fields of Georgia and echoes to every cemetery in overseas lands and America where troopers of the 17th Airborne lie buried. It echoes in gratitude to all those who labored and contributed to make this magnificent testimony to our airborne division a reality.
Above all it sounds for Ralph Grooten, our Memorial Committee Chairman, who made a dream a reality by his tireless efforts over the years working with the Federal Government, the Army, Fort Benning authorities, the sculptor, the engineers and the construction workers. "Thunder from Heaven" sounds for Ed and Mary Sergiej who handled the finances and the many details related to the purchasing of the memorial bricks and benches. It sounds for the Memorial Committee and the Board of Directors. It sounds for Joe Quade and our Association magazine. It sounds for John and Lou Moore, who shouldered the burden of our reunion gathering.
Many hands and hearts made this memorial a reality. For me to name them all, opens me to the possibility that I might omit some. So please forgive me and suffice it to say it was a labor of love and dedication of so many, that it reflects glory on the
entire membership of our Association.
Over the years I have heard some say with regret, that the 17th Airborne is the forgotten division of World War II. After its losses from "Operation Varsity," a decision was made at the end of the war to deactivate it, while other airborne divisions were kept in service. Well, let me tell you the 17th Airborne lives and our hosts today members of the 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, are living proof of that statement. The 507th provides the support organization for the Parachute School. What better legacy could there be, than to have one of our units reactivated to serve in the training of America's airborne of the future.
Four years ago, as part of a group of veterans attending the Static Line Airborne Awards Ceremonies, I visited the Parachute School here at Fort Benning and I had the honor of pinning wings on the graduates. As I placed the wings on one soldier, a handsome young Iowa farm boy, I told him that his wings were being pinned on by a veteran of the 17th Airborne of World War II, a division with four recipients of the Medal of Honor. I told him that his wings now had special meaning and that he should never do anything to dishonor them. I told him to learn about the 17th Airborne, because now it had become part of his heritage. I shall never forget the look of pride on that boy's face, as he shouted back, "Yes Sir!" to me.
The year 2004 for us has been the year of America finally paying a long overdue debt of gratitude. Decades have come and gone. A Vietnam War Memorial was built, a Korean War Memorial was built, yet nothing was done to honor those who sacrificed in the greatest conflict, the defining conflict of the 20th Century. Instead some argued that a World War II Memorial on the National Mall, where others already stood, would clutter that site. I say to you that a nation reveals itself not only in the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.
Well, wiser heads prevailed. And now that superb edifice, the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. stands. And in the same year, following on, it is right that we dedicate our memorial, the 17th Airborne Division Memorial. It is dedicated to the men who fought and died in the snows of the Ardennes and in the skies and fields of Germany. It is dedicated to those who gave their lives in training in camps and airfields in America and Great Britain.
In years to come, all those who pause before this memorial will read and be moved by the valor of our Medal of Honor recipients. They will ponder over the readiness of our young troopers to brave the rigors of pioneer airborne training, of early silk parachutes and flimsy gliders. Above all they will look with wonder at the prowess of those young troopers in battle, and their sacrifices in dead and wounded. The fighting men of the 17th Airborne have earned a special place in the history, in the survival of this nation. And so it is appropriate that this monument stands here today for all to see.
As we meet on this hallowed ground our nation is at war. Our military men and women are sacrificing themselves on far-flung battlefronts, in Iraq and Afghanistan and other outposts around the world. And while they struggle and suffer, what is asked of us here at home in the land they fight to preserve? That we support them with all the strength within us. That we act nobly as a nation worthy of their sacrifice.
A few days ago, a neighbor brought me an article to read. He gave it to me saying, "John, I don't know whether I should do this to you, but read it anyway." I was perplexed at what he meant, but I soon learned. What he gave me was an account written by an escort officer, a lieutenant colonel, assigned to accompany the coffin of a young soldier killed in combat in Iraq to his small hometown in Wyoming for burial. It reminded me of what America is really like - of the goodness and caring of our everyday people across this land.
Everywhere that officer went accompanying that flag-draped casket people responded with heartfelt respect and honor. People stopped and saluted, placing their hands over their hearts. At the airport, the clerk as soon as she realized the officer's mission, changed his seating to first class, the pilot took him aboard ahead of the passengers.
At a stop-over, the taxi driver went far out of his way to help him. Everywhere people wanted to assist. Everywhere a spirit of gratitude and compassion surrounded him. In the soldier's hometown everyone turned out to honor the fallen soldier for his sacrifice and to console the grieving parents. I tell you, I was a basket-case after reading that article. That is America as I know it. Not an America of Hollywood immorality; not an America of greedy Enron executives, who get rich while their employees lose their jobs; not an America of lobbyists influencing a Congress, where members talk a lot, but only a handful have served inthe military - and where even fewer of their sons and daughters enter the Service. This country was founded on the concept that all, rich and poor alike, were required to share in its defense and to work toward its well being within our communities.
We are the nation of the "Citizen Soldier." My wife and I made sure that both of our sons served in the Army, one as a West Point graduate and the other as a Reserve officer. It disturbs me to see so much of the burden in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world being borne by some, while others, particularly the wealthiest and most blessed by this land, avoid service and feel no hardship at all. Our military should reflect an absolute cross section of our population. To have it otherwise, does not keep faith with our founding fathers. Look at the names on our Memorial Plaque - Hanson, O'Reilly, Hernandez, Pappenfuss, Napoli, Goldberg, Lee, Ming, Zahritsky, Gordon... They represent every nationality...represent different religions...some came from poor families, others from the well to do...all died for America...died that we might live in peace and freedom.
I come to you today with a strange request - strange because it borders on the simple. Veterans of the 17th Airborne I ask you to remember who you are. I ask you never to forget who you are. Ours is a heritage grown out of sacrifice and courage. Ours is a heritage forged in the cauldron of war. Ours is a heritage shaped by love of country - of devotion to comrades who have lived and died for this land.
We here are spoken of as being the "Greatest Generation." The nation mourns as our numbers dwindle, the count in passing now is almost 1,500 a day. That be as it may, but let me tell you America has not and should not have heard the last from us. We must speak out. We know what made this country great, what brought it out of the depths of the Great Depression, conquered tyranny around the world and brought down Godless Communism. It was a readiness to bear heavy burdens, to sacrifice and towork together for the common good.
Time is running out for the veterans of the 17th Airborne. These recent years for many of us have been difficult ones. We are experiencing the trials and tribulations of old age, not only for ourselves but for our loved ones. We can not be sure that illness, suffering, tragedy or disappointment in some form or other will not come to us. There is no way we can guard against these things. But if we are to be the "Greatest Generation" then we must know how to deal with the blows that lie in store for us. The way we choose to meet life is our own. And when we do so with courage, dignity and compassion, we are given the strength to rise above the things that happen to us and we set an example for all those around us.
We are the 17th Airborne. Tell your children and your grandchildren about what you have seen and done. You have an obligation to do so. Let your family history bear testimony in the spoken word and on the written page. Ours has been a valiant chapter in the saga of American fighting men. This monument before you in marble and bronze... a trooper praying over the grave of a fallen comrade... tells our story. Its mood of reverence and valor... so movingly tells our story.
This leads me to my final comment to you this morning. There is an epitaph on a British war memorial overseas that reads: "When you go home,tell them about us and say, 'For your tomorrow, we gave our today' "Our monument is the very essence of that thought. And so I say to you now: When you leave this place, this "Field of Sacrifice," think about what you have seen, think about those who shared these moments with you. For in this place rests the very soul of our nation. For here also rests its conscience and it calls out to us to keep faith with our fallen. May God bless each and every one of you here this morning and May God bless our beloved country."
From Peter Schleck:
John Godlove Kormann was a leader. He was passionate. He drove a '68 GTO convertible in his day, and later, a Toyota hybrid. He left his mark, and a legacy. He saved lives. He fought for freedom. He worked for peace. He cared about a lot of things, and when he was on the case you had better lead, follow, or get out of the way. He was quite a painter. He was my friend, as he was a friend to so many, and he taught me a lot, mainly by example. Colonel Kormann helped me to understand so many of my Dad's experiences, after my father passed away too young at 64. Of John Kormann, we can say, his was a life well lived. He was one of the lucky ones from the 17th Airborne, indeed, having lived well close to 91, when so many didn't get much beyond 19. He made the most of it. And we were lucky to know him. And we will miss him.
So. To him, and those like him. Damn few left.
From Michele Smith:
There are so many fond memories I have of our great friend Colonel John Kormann, it's hard to know where to begin. His friendship, like all of our 17th Airborne buddies, has been such a wonderful gift to us all. As many of you know, my Dad 17th AB Bill Smith, 466 HQ passed from this earth last July 25, 2014 after four years of disability caused from a bad fall. When this occurred in 2010, my Dad was in a coma for over a month. It was during this time that Colonel Kormann had a dream that he called me about...based on what happened next he typed it out for me and I'd like to share it with you.
These are his words from that time in 2010:
A Veteran's Strange Dream by John Kormann
Saturday night a week ago, I dreamed that I went to a hospital in Paoli, Pa. I had driven up from Chevy Chase, MD to visit Bill Smith, a WWII veteran and a good friend. Bill had fallen weeks earlier and now was comatose in the hospital. While his physical signs appeared good, his eyes remained closed and he was not responding. His daughter, Michele, was faithfully by his bedside.
Over the years, I had always associated Bill with a remarkable incident which had taken place during the Battle of the Bulge. It involved one of our 17th Airborne Division artillery forward observers, Captain Charles Jones. A column of German tanks was just about to overrun Jones' position and break through our lines. Jones was desperately trying to radio back coordinates for artillery fire, but the shell bursts simply were not on target. To be absolutely certain of the correct coordinates, with a deathly air of finality, he told our artillery to: "Fire on me!" The tanks were stopped, Jones miraculously survived and later was awarded the Silver Star for his action. Bill was back at the artillery position during this incident and was severely shaken by the act of calling fire directly upon Captain Jones. At the point of tears, he would recount that fateful occurrence at veteran's reunions.
In my dream, after talking with Michele, I approached Bill's bedside. I bent close to him and in my most commanding voice said: Trooper, this is Colonel Kormann, Captain Jones is O.K., but some of those German tanks have broken through and we have to pull back fast! Get up and get your rear end out of here now!" Bill opened his eyes and sat upright. He was in that sitting position, when I woke up. My stirring about awakened my wife, Elsa, and I told her what I had dreamed. It was exactly 3:10 a.m.
Sunday morning, I told Elsa that I was ready to drive up to Pennsylvania and do exactly what I did in my dream. She in her wisdom, said: "John, I am not telling you not to go, but think about the ramifications of what you are about to do. Bill has a heart condition and there could be serious consequences." We went to church that morning with me still intent on making the trip.
Not long after we came home from church, Michele called and said: "Dad opened his eyes." She was in the hospital room and put the cell phone to Bill's ear so that I could speak to him. While after all this time he is still not really conscious, I sense he could hear me. He now opens his eyes from time to time. I know that the prayers of all the 17th Airborne family are with him and his loved ones.
So, that was his dream, thankfully, my Dad did regain consciousness and they had frequent conversations over the next four years. Today, our great loss is Heaven's great gain.
Michele Smith, VP Scions of the 17th Airborne
Col. John Kormann by Betty & Cindy Heigl
Mom & I had the pleasure and honor of knowing Col. Kormann and his wonderful wife Elsa for many years. We traveled with them in 1999 on a 17th trip. I remember both of us sitting close to one another when we were heading to Paris. I overheard them talking about when they were there many years ago and the places they used to frequent. I had several maps of Paris with me and offered them a map. They were so thankful that they could perhaps find some of these places to visit.
Also on that trip we went to Wesel Germany, and I believe we went to a German military cemetery. I will always remember how diplomatic Col. Kormann was in the speech he delivered & then stood among all of us including German citizens, military, and US military holding hands and singing .
Having made this last trip with the 17th Airborne Scions last month there are several things I remember concerning Col. Kormann. The first is that everywhere we went Col. Kormann was not forgotten even though he could not make the trip. He was presented many things given to the veterans who were on the trip.
Second at the school St. Joseph in Bastogne I met a young woman who 15 years ago when we were there also was the student who sat next to the Kormanns. She was disappointed that he could not make this trip but understood that he was not well. She showed me a stack of letters & cards that she received from the Kormanns over the 15 years. She even showed me pictures that she had of the 17th Airborne trip 15 years ago.
Lastly I had the pleasure & especially the honor as a executive member of the Scions to unveil Col. Kormanns name plaque near the tree in his honor at the Bastogne Peace Woods. About two weeks after the Scions trip I called & spoke to Col. Kormann & his wife Elsa. I told him these 3 things from the trip especially how he was not forgotten. I told him that Jerry and Pat O'Brien would be delivering all of his momentos from the trip . Mrs Kormann thanked me & told me that I made his day.
I will always remember Col. Kormann as the founder of the 17th Airborne Scions & respected him so much. He will be missed. I wish his family our condolences at this sad time. Col. Kormann you will never be forgotten.
From Jeff Schumacher:
Even after knowing John Kormann for just a relative few years, it is clear he is a man who makes an impact on everything he touches...a positive impact. I'm thinking back to events or reunions for which it was known that John and Elsa would be attending. When they arrived - you knew. Not because they 'made an entrance', but because one could sense their presence. I think everyone could.
And, of course, John's voice is unmistakable. Whether singing "Eternal Father..." or telling a story or making a toast, you had to hear and listen. The magic was not just the tone or tenor of John's voice, it was what was behind the words - which was his integrity and his passion.
I have two recent "Colonel" stories. One was while my father, John was in the hospital in early March. The phone rang and it was Andrea, with Colonel John standing by. He talked for 5 solid minutes about the importance of we as Americans to stand up and show the world that for which we stand for...and in doing so can bring renewed respect and leadership to the world. "I believe our best days lie ahead of us..." This from a man of the Greatest Generation, at 90 years of age...ever and always encouraging and uncovering the best from all he encountered.
The other story is one shared with many of our Scions as we gathered together on the 24th of March, in Wesel, in remembrance of Operation Varsity. On that day, we all heard from John. And we heard his voice brighten distinctly at the mention of Elsa. It was a privilege
I have in my mind's eye the picture of John and Elsa - always together - such as at reunions. With one, you could be sure to find the other. For any of us to be so fortunate...
I regret that I do not have more personal stories that I can adequately share. But having had the opportunity to spend time, learn from and call John Godlove Kormann my friend outweighs any such trivial regret.
Jeff Schumacher – Son of John Schumacher (194th GIR)
My Thoughts on Colonel Kormann's Passing
by Rose Friday
It is with much sadness that I attempt to write something meaningful to honor Colonel Kormann.
There is so much that could be said of this amazing man, and all of his numerous achievements. But, I will leave that to others. I whole-heartedly join in with what Peter, Michele and Isaac have written.
I have a little more to share with you.
Of all of the vast accomplishments of Colonel Kormann, what has puzzled me some is that one thing that he seemed to be most proud of, is us, "His Scions." Others would be content to sit back and relish their past. Colonel Kormann was continually thinking, planning, and strategizing. He was still creating visions for his many "projects" until his final days. He still was relaying those wishes to us, so that we could carry forth his vision.
Colonel Kormann was also very proud of his children and grandchildren, and their chosen paths in life. So, I am in no way meaning to over-shadow that. They are a very successful bunch. But, that said, I want to share with you a couple of comments from Colonel Kormann, during his "final chapter."
In mid-February, he e-mailed me the following: "Rose, Bless you. It is rough getting to the computer and typing, despite pain-killers. I know that my Scions are with me through this, and that gives me strength. Love to all, John."
Then, on Monday, April 27th, at about 8:30 pm, his son Matt sent me the following e-mail, our final contact from Colonel Kormann:
"Thank you, Rose. I relayed your message to Mom. She will not leave my father's side. My father is resting peacefully, until he is called home by our Maker. In the few words my father spoke tonight, he said he was thankful to all who have been so kind. He specifically mentioned your name, and Isaac. I asked if he had a final message. This is what I could discern: "We have done all what we planned to do. We honored our brothers, especially those in Europe. Well done, Scions. Well done."
So, we have to carry on the torch that has been passed to us. Let us hold it high, and continue forward. Even though Colonel Kormann will no longer be among us, we will still feel his lead, out in front. We will forever follow this dear man's dreams. Let us always make him proud.
John Kormann and wife Elsa in 2013.
John Kormann at his house on Deep Creek Lake in 2013. Photo courtesy of Peter Schleck.
Colonel Kormann's book, "Echoes of a Distant Clarion".
The Colonel giving orders.
At the 17th Airborne Plaque at Arlington National Cemetery.
A lovely dinner at home with Elsa.
The Colonel with Peter Schleck.
Receiving the French Legion of Merit.
Soldier, rest! thy warfare o'er, Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking; Dream of battled fields no more, Days of danger, nights of waking.
--Sir Walter Scott
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