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3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Delta's Clearwater Lodge
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Edward Francis Sheehan


1931 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Edward Francis Sheehan Obituary
Lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)
March 14, 1931-Sept. 21, 2018 
Ed Sheehan was born in 1931 in Brockton, Massachusetts, and climbed his last mountain in September 2018.
He lived his American dream in Delta Junction, where he raised his family, served his nation and fully enjoyed the Alaska lifestyle.
He was a decorated war hero, involved in cold weather/mountain training and equipment testing for the U.S. Army that spanned almost a half-century and defined much of his life.
Ed enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from high school in 1949. When the Korean War broke out in early 1950, he volunteered for combat duty and, when denied, he instead joined the Army and was immediately shipped to Korea with the very first unit to deploy.
He was assigned to Company K, 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Division, "Gimlets." His regiment included the ill-fated "Task Force Smith." They were all just a token tripwire of undermanned and inadequately equipped soldiers, sent by overconfident leadership to try to delay the flood of invaders from the North until more forces could arrive. The "Forgotten War" quickly turned into intense sustained combat against overwhelming numbers, often in severe cold and mountainous conditions.
His unit sustained heavy losses and received numerous citations for valor. He was quickly promoted up through each rank from private to master sergeant. He distinguished himself through heroic actions in numerous combat operations and was repeatedly cited for valor, at a time when such personal sacrifice was both commonplace and little recognized.
Ed received a battlefield commission in 1951 and served as an Infantry platoon leader for the duration, sometimes as company commander.
After the war, he served in Infantry assignments across Europe, mostly in front line mountaineering/ski units holding critical passes across Austria, Italy and Germany, developing cold weather and mountaineering skills and doctrine along with our Cold War allies.
Capt. Sheehan returned to the U.S. and served 4 years as the operations officer for the Ranger Department. He initially developed and then commanded the Mountain Ranger Camp in Dahlonega, Georgia, where he was instrumental in developing Ranger training courses as well as the original Ranger Handbook, which we still know today. He married Christina Altieri, of Brockton, Massachusetts, in 1957, and then had a son, Joe, in 1958.
After completion of Command and General Staff College as the youngest captain to ever attend, Ed and Chris had daughter Brenda in 1959 and became Alaska residents. He was assigned to the Arctic Test Center at Fort Greely as the Airborne Test Officer. They lived in a Quonset hut at the airfield, then in Delta, until housing was available. In 1962, Ed and Chris had another daughter, Liz "Punkin." Ed loved the rugged Alaska lifestyle of the pre-pipeline days, enjoying hunting, trapping, fishing and hiking all across the new state.
In 1964, he was assigned to Kentucky as the operations officer of the 101st Airborne Division, among the first major units to Vietnam. He shaped the deployment and initial combat operations. In 1965, he was reassigned as the executive officer of the 1st Brigade's "Geronimo" Red Feather Battalion, serving in direct combat. Promoted to lieutenant colonel, Ed was reassigned to be the Senior Advisor for the South Vietnamese Army's (ARVN) Rangers.
Upon return from Vietnam in 1966, he was reassigned back to Fort Greely to serve as the commandant of the Northern Warfare Training Center and sometimes as post commander. Having served in two services and two wars, in every rank from private to lietentant colonel, Ed retired from the U.S. Army in 1970 to make his home in Delta. He then served in the Cold Regions Test Center as the senior test officer until retirement in 1986. He continued many years to serve as a consultant and doctrine reviewer for cold/mountain operations. Over his many years, Ed developed much of the cold weather/mountaineering doctrine, manuals, programs and training still used today.
Among the many awards and citations earned by Liet. Col. Ed Sheehan are the Bronze Star with V device and oak leaf cluster; the Purple Heart; Korea Campaign Medal with four battle stars; Vietnam Campaign Medal with three battle stars; Combat Infantry Badge with star; the Air Medal; two Legion of Merits; two Defense Meritorious Service awards; and numerous other U.S. and foreign citations.
Ed loved Alaska, and he became a true representative of the pioneering spirit of the people. In retirement, Ed continued to enjoy hunting, fishing and trapping in the great Alaska outdoors he knew so well. He was a proud part of the Delta community and served on Delta's original Fish and Game advisory board, as well as in numerous other community volunteer activities that Chris was very much involved with. He was a great American, soldier, Alaskan, husband, father and neighbor - the embodiment of the rugged individual.
Ed was a modest and humble man with quiet character, dignity and honest decency, which he set as the example to his family and to all who knew him. He rarely talked about his amazing military experiences, but he fully appreciated the American ideals and the cherished freedoms that we have, as well as the sacrifice of those who paid for it in blood. He is greatly missed, and there are far too few like him remaining in our world.
He is pre-deceased by many dear friends and was devastated by the loss of his beloved wife, Chris, in 2010. He is also preceded by his parents, Joe and Dorothy; and siblings, Lorraine and Ron.
He is survived by his three beloved children, Joe (Mary), Brenda and Liz (Will); sister, Ginny "Tiny"; brother, Paul; and many nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Ed's life will be held from 3-6 p.m. Saturday, June 8, at Delta's Clearwater Lodge. Food and beverages will be provided. Attire is casual, as he would have wanted it. Please come share memories of Ed and lift a toast.
Please visit www.legacy.com/obituaries/newsminer to sign an online guest book.
Published in Daily News-Miner on May 12, 2019
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