Richard "Red" Eugene Warner hailed from Berwick, in the anthracite coal region of northeastern Pennsylvania, where COL Blaik's Army football team did much of its recruiting. Red was offered a full scholarship by both Penn State and Syracuse, but he chose West Point instead. He wanted to play for Army and, from 1955-57, was a stalwart on teams that beat the best football teams in the country.
Red struggled with academics throughout each of his four years, but learning to write the Ml Theme in Plebe year English class was an epiphany. He said he knew he would make it when he first heard the words, "in recapitulation." During later years, he would occasionally end lengthy phone conversations with "Now, in recapitulation..."
As a cadet, Red and just about everyone associated with him, including many of the faculty, were in agreement that Red had come to West Point solely to play football. He later discovered, however, that he wanted to become a pilot. Everything about cadet life was tolerated just so he could accomplish these two goals, and he focused on achieving a class standing sufficient enough to be able to enter the Air Force and fly.
Red almost always had a smile on his face, was happy-go-lucky, and had a great sense of humor—although that sense of humor would later prevent him from becoming a pilot. He was a good friend, always generous and enthusiastic. He was a fun guy who loved music. A former roommate remembered weekends in the room during Plebe year's Gloom Period, when Red spent much of the time playing the same Bobby Hackett album over and over. He also loved to dance. Rock & roll became popular during his cadet years, and Red loved it. He would get out there and gyrate all over the dance floor, or any other convenient empty space, and could never understand why everybody was embarrassed but him. But that never slowed him down or ever caused him to change.
Upon graduation, Red chose an Air Force career. Two to three months into flight training, he was doing well. He had terrific hand-eye coordination and flying came very naturally to him. He also had a terrific sense of humor and saw himself and his foibles in a humorous light. Red started most of his declarative sentences with "Ha-ha-ha," both as a plebe and as a lieutenant.
His typical flying training day began with a mass briefing and ended with a mass debrief. One of the features of the debrief was an opportunity for the student who had made the mistake of the day to confess his lapse to all of his assembled classmates. On one occasion, the flight commander made the routine announcements and subsequently called on Red to tell his story: Red stood up, and with a big Red-Warner grin on his face, laughing at his own shortcomings, said, "Ha-ha-ha, I started my airplane today with one of the intake covers still in the intake." The resulting damage, if any, was minor, but Red was promptly eliminated from training, not for any deficiency in flying ability or for any shortfall in his performance as an officer and a gentleman—he washed out for laughing at himself, for being the Red Warner we all knew and loved.
Later, Red began to develop a bit of a balance problem that was noticeable in the way he ran and danced. It may have been the result of head injuries during his football days, as he was light and small for an Army lineman of that period and was knocked unconscious several times. Red was tough, perhaps too tough for his own good.
Red resigned his commission in 1965 to join Reliance Electric's business planning group, where he spent several successful years. Following his time with Reliance, he held sales management positions with several manufacturing companies.
Red married and divorced the same woman three times. As in most everything in his life, he wouldn't give up. It was a stormy relationship but yielded a daughter, Michelle, who became close with her father and looked after him for many of his later years.
Red's health failed in 1996 as the result of a massive stroke from which he never really recovered. He spent his last few years in a nursing home near Berwick, PA. While his health deteriorated steadily, he always appreciated a visit from a friend. Highlighting his last year were visits from the current Army football team captain, who presented Red a football signed by the team. He also received a videotape of highlights from the 1957-58 Army football team. He watched that tape over and over, each time getting so excited that his yells could be heard all over the floor of the nursing home. Proudly displayed in his room was a picture of Coach Blaik and GEN Douglas MacArthur at a football practice, with Red and several other players prominent in the background. Visited only months before his death by an Army teammate, he got shakily to his feet and began to dance—his only way of communicating. During what was probably the last visit from classmates, he struggled to sit up and had to be restrained lest he disconnect the IV tubes in his arms. Like all his other undertakings, he was a fighter, even to the end.
In recapitulation, Red, you were one hell of a fine man.
Classmates Joe Shea and Joe Schwar