Published Assembly Jul '97
Roger Hurless Nye
No. 15405 Class of 1946
Died 4 June 1996 at Suffern, New York, aged 71 years. Interment:
West Point Cemetery, West Point, New York
Born 10 June 1924 in Ida Grove, Iowa, Roger exhibited
early the characteristics that were to become his lifetime trademark.
At Ida Grove High School, Roger was senior class valedictorian,
all conference in football, national award winner in music and
editor of the student newspaper. He joined the Class of 1946
at West Point on 1 July 1943.
Cadet life was a natural for Roger. He honed his
skills in preparation for his life's work and early on demonstrated
his potential. Roger graduated a second lieutenant in Armor.
After basic Armor schooling at Fort Knox, Kentucky,
Roger was assigned to the US Constabulary in Germany and then
to the 24th Recon Squadron. When the Korean War erupted in 1950,
Roger was Aide de Camp to General Arthur G. Trudeau. Roger's
brother, Allen, told how he got to Korea: "He volunteered
for reassignment to Korea in 1950, securing General Trudeau's
signature on a letter to General Mac Arthur's G-1, saying in
essence that this officer wants to command a platoon of tanks
and please don't allow him to be sidetracked. He was assigned
to the 72nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Division when the Chinese invaded."
Roger served in combat with distinction earning two Bronze Star
Medals for Valor.
In preparation for assignment to the USMA Social
Science Department in 1954, Roger earned a master's degree from
Princeton. In 1957, from West Point, he went to C&GSC, then
to the 24th Division before joining the Office, Secretary General
Staff in USAREUR in 1959. It was during this assignment that
he met and married Mary Ann (Nan) Lake in Heidelberg on 30 April
1960. He returned to West Point in 1961, again in the Social
Science Department. In 1969 he earned his Ph.D. in American History
from Columbia. In 1971 he was made a Professor and Deputy Head
of the History Department. He retired from active duty in 1975
but in 1977 was recalled to serve in the Office, Chief of Staff,
Army to review the Education and Training of Officers.
It was in retirement that Roger began to fulfill
his destiny as a historian and scholar. He authored two books:
"The Challenge of Command, 1986" and "The Patton
Mind, 1991". He was editor of "The Art of Command Series".
From 1987 to 1995, Roger served with distinction as Chairman,
Friends of the West Point Library.
Roger died of heart failure on 4 June 1996, exactly
50 years to the day after graduating from West Point. He is survived
by his wife, Nan; a daughter Elizabeth and a brother J. Allen.
Roger Nye and West Point! The two are synonymous.
His impact on the institution and its graduates will extend far
beyond the lives of his contemporaries. His friends, students
and classmates remembered Roger with their thoughts about an
Classmate, Joe Jordan wrote: "Roger was an
ideal colleague -- he was always cooperative, wise in counsel
and considerate of his less informed colleagues. In our decades
of working together, I never heard him speak harshly to anyone;
people responded to his calm, informed and inspiring style of
leadership by example. Roger was a superior historian and an
exceptionally skilled writer. His imprint on the field of military
history will last for generations, as will his impact on West
Point graduates who learned from him, either as cadets or colleagues.
Few have contributed as much -- or as long -- to our Alma Mater
and none have surpassed him in living its motto, Duty, Honor,
General Bill Knowlton, fellow instructor with Roger
and later USMA Superintendent, recalled: "Roger was a unique
person. First, he had a knack with cadets which was most unusual.
They would talk to him when they would not talk to others. From
this vast network of contacts came a wide understanding of issues
beyond the grasp of most of us. Second, Roger not only had a
deep and abiding interest in West Point, he lived that interest.
This professionalism could not fail to impress those cadets looking
for a mentor and example. His retirement was but a mark in the
path of his professional interest; it was not an end. It merely
gave him even more time to devote to military studies and West
Point. Thirdly, there was a rock-bound integrity to Roger that
impressed by example but also gave depth to his work. Lastly,
he was my friend and I shall always be grateful for that. I shall
Classmate George Patton remembered: "Roger
was a dedicated military historian with a broad understanding
of our most honorable profession. From his combat experience,
he was able to evaluate military history and provide guidance
to future military leaders from his first hand knowledge of war.
There is no doubt that his articulation of the lessons from the
past will be of value to military generations of the future."
Iowa Supreme Court Justice, Bruce Snell, Roger's
friend from childhood, wrote: "Roger was the most intellectually
bright person I have ever known, who had the rarest of gifts
to go with it -- a charming and engaging personality. Roger's
conversation was always warm and personal, with never a trace
of professional dictate, dedicated to advance the enjoyment of
the listeners. I am sure his teaching was in the tradition of
the most renowned West Point professors. As a husband, father
and friend, he was one of the finest and an inspiration to us
all. To West Point, the Army and our country, he served as a
Excerpts from Bill Anderson's eulogy at Roger's
memorial service speak eloquently about his friend and mentor:
"Listener, observer, philosopher, intellectual, writer,
friend, husband, father, professional, army officer, mentor and
teacher. He was quiet unless he had something to say. He was
unassuming but his presence enlivened and enriched those around
him. He thought first and then spoke. He was sensitive but determined.
He was intellectually independent, thoughtful, even brilliant,
curious to the end and led a happy life. Doers sought out Roger's
advice. Thinkers sought out his ideas. Above all, Roger was a
teacher, even more so when he retired from teaching. We learned
many things from Roger. First, we learned to think independently
and rigorously. He asked that we do our best to stay intellectually
alive. Second, we learned to pay attention to individuals. Roger
loved West Point, but not for its own sake. He loved it as an
institution dedicated to improving, helping and educating individuals
for leaders. Third and finally, we learned to love, because to
know Roger was to love him. Much like Aristotle's students must
have mourned his death around the funeral pyre, today we mourn
Roger's passing. But at the same time we celebrate because we
were so lucky to have known him, to have studied under him, to
have learned from him, and to have loved him so very much."
West Point and The Class of 1946 are justifiably
proud of Roger Nye and join all those who knew and loved him
in saying: "Well Done, Roger; Be Thou At Peace!"
'46 Memorial Article Project and his wife, Nan