Ronald Lee 'Ron' Cairns was born on March 7, 1933 in King of Prussia, PA to Rosa and Tasker Cairns. His early years found him in the King of Prussia public school system, where he excelled in the classroom and on the playing field. He eventually graduated from Upper Merion High School in King of Prussia in 1951. Ronald had done very well in high school, and with a strong desire to get to West Point he sought and received an appointment to the Military Academy. He competed for an appointment and was successful in receiving an appointment from the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. On July 3, 1951 he travelled to West Point and joined the West Point Class of 1955. After a trying six weeks in New Cadet Barracks, Ron was assigned to Company I-1, where his excellent background in academics, with an emphasis on math, made him a very sought after 'tutor' for those struggling with numbers.
Academically, Ronald excelled, making the dean's list often and having time to pursue his passion for softball, basketball, reading novels, and his work with the Special Programs Committee. This still left time for him to participate in the Handball, Skeet, and Spanish clubs, the Debate Council, and the Dialectic Society. Completing his four years, Ron found himself in the upper half of his class, and at Branch Drawing he had an opportunity to select his branch of choice, Infantry.
Ron did find time for his one-and-only, Marion Jean Hoover, whom he met, courted, and later married on Graduation Day, June 7 1955, in the Cadet Chapel at West Point. This marriage would result in the birth of seven children.
Like all new second lieutenants of Infantry, Ron and Marion made their way to Columbus, GA and Fort Benning for the Infantry Officer Basic Course, followed by successfully completing the Airborne and Ranger courses. Upon completion of these introductory courses, Ron and Marion travelled to Fort Bragg, NC and duty with the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. In 1964, Ron was among our early classmates to be assigned to the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, where he served initially in the Office of J2, Communications Security. After six months he was further assigned to MACSOG, Military Assistance Command Study Operations Group.
Returning to CONUS in 1965 Ron was assigned to the Junior ROTC Program in Chicago, IL, where he was an instructor in military operations. In 1968, ending his tour in Chicago, Ron was again assigned to Vietnam, joining the 25th Infantry Division at Cu Chi during the Tet Offensive of 1968. Initially assigned to Headquarters, 25th Infantry, he soon took command of Alpha Company, 26th Infantry Division. For the next five months he led his company on assigned military operations, earning the Combat Infantryman Badge and a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat. Ron was then selected to become a staff officer in the G2 section and later was assigned as the 25th Division G3 plans officer. Ron departed Vietnam in 1969 and returned to the States, where in late 1969 he decided to depart the Army for civilian employment.
Ron's service was exemplified by his commitment to duty and his love of country. In every assignment he was noted as a caring leader and a sharer of his talents. Service was his byline.
Ron was first employed in the hotel business in the DC and northern Virginia area, where he established a home, and for 20 years he and Marian continued raising a family of seven children. In 1978, Ron and Marian divorced.
Soon after the divorce Ron relocated to Ocala, FL, where he was employed as administrator for an industrial truck, tractor, trailer and stacker business in Ocala. He then became involved in a buyers information service in Ocala. It was here that Ron met, courted, and, on March 25, 2001, married Sherry Lynn Rogers. For the next 10 years they found time to do some travelling and visiting with old friends and family. After a few years, however, Ron developed a series of illnesses which terminated in his death on December 20, 2011, leaving seven children from his previous marriage.
Ron Cairns was restless, full of energy, and multitalented. He did much good in a life devoted to service, friends and family. He will always be remembered by his classmates as a good soldier and loyal friend.
Well done, Ron. Be Thou at Peace.
TAPS Memorial Article
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Marian Jean (Hoover) Cairns
Marian Jean (Hoover) Cairns, of Richland, PA, died October 20, 2011 at Birmingham Green of Manassas, VA at age 77. Marian was born November 11, 1933 in Pennsylvania to the late Ben and Helen Hoover. She was a dedicated registered nurse and retired from INOVA Fairfax Hospital in VA and Hershey Medical Center in PA. She was a member of the Eastern Star.
Marian is survived by her daughters Cathy Cooke of Severn, MD, Lisa Sheaffer of Harrisburg, PA, and Denise Perka of Lovettsville, VA; sons Richard Cairns of Charlotte, NC, Robert Cairns of Front Royal, VA, Ronald Cairns of Richland, PA, and Donald Cairns of Mechanicsburg, PA; brother Robert Hoover of Clinton, TN; sister Delores Shumate of Troutdale, VA; and eight grandchildren.
A graveside service will be held at Grace United Church of Christ Cemetery, Richland, PA, (717-866-5946) on Friday, November 11, 2011 at 1:00 p.m.