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Henry W. "Pop" Seeley Jr.

HENRY W. (POP) SEELEY, JR. Henry W. Seeley Jr., beloved father, grandfather and friend, died on January 17 at his home at the Indian River Estates in Vero Beach. Pop-as he was known throughout his life-was born in Washington, Connecticut on July 8th, 1917, son of Margaret Abbott and Henry W. Seeley. He attended The Gunnery School, Amherst College, where he played varsity football and baseball, and George Washington University in Washington DC, where he earned a Masters Degree. He was married for 63 years to Joan Lilley of Waterbury, CT. He attended the first Candidates' Class for the US Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia shortly before the outbreak of WWII. After graduation he taught at the Motor Transport School, followed by participation in the invasions of Guadalcanal, Benika, Peleliu, and the Philippines, much of that time with the First Marine Division. Towards the end of the war, he served on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff in the Philippines. He was awarded the Bronze Star for actions in combat during the assault on the airport during the invasion of Peleliu. At the outbreak of the Korean conflict in 1950, he was assigned the command of emergency loading and logistics to equip the invasion force convoy embarking to Inchon. Here he earned a second Bronze Star. After landing at Inchon, he accompanied the First Marine Division into North Korea, and ultimately was assigned to Task Force Drysdale, a group sent to rescue trapped forces including US and Royal Marines trapped at the Chosin Reservoir. The task force was overrun, surrounded and divided into small units. After directly refusing a demand to surrender made by Chinese commanders, he subsequently broke out of the entrapment with dozens of men under his command and forced heavy enemy casualties. For this action, he was awarded the Silver Star along with a Purple Heart for combat wounds. He retired from the Marine Corps as a full colonel in 1963, and embarked on a 20-year career in business; first with College Life Insurance Company in Indianapolis and then with Louis Allen Associates, serving in Chicago, Johannesburg South Africa, and finally in Palo Alto, California, where he was president of the company. He retired in 1983, and moved to Vero Beach, Florida. Pop loved poker and parties, and was a master of both; a lifelong sports enthusiast, he played golf and tennis until the last year of his life. He had wide-ranging interests and a large circle of friends made over a lifetime. He had a quiet but professionally competent manner in the way he managed organizations, whether military, business or volunteer. Over the past 25 years he gave freely of his time to the Vero Beach Theater Guild, Lions Club, and FLiCRA, where he held various leadership positions. In 2011, Pop was escorted by the Honor Flights organization-which recognizes and honors World War II veterans-to the National WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. with a group of fellow veterans, which was a highlight of his last year of life. His wife Joan predeceased him, as did his two sisters, Helen Seeley deCourcy and Ruth Seeley Fisher. He is survived by his daughters, Margaret Mikels of Indianapolis, Indiana, Robin Seeley of Ashland, Oregon, and his son, Greg Seeley of Washington, Connecticut, 3 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, those who wish to honor his memory are encouraged to make a donation to the Vero Beach Lions Club, PO Box 1204, Vero Beach, FL 32961-1204. Burial services will be private. A memorial celebration of his life will be held at Indian River Estates at 2300 Indian Creek Blvd., Vero Beach, FL on Saturday, February 4th, 2012 at 10 AM. paid obituary

Published in the TC Palm on Jan. 29, 2012
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