HENRY E. EMERSON
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EMERSON HENRY EVERETT EMERSON "Hank" A retired United States Army Lieutenant General, best known for being the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea during the mid-1970s when Colin Powell served as a battalion commander, passed away February 4, 2015. General Emerson was born in Washington, DC on May 28, 1925, the son of Brig. Gen. Govenor Vincent Emerson M.D. and Marie McLaughlin. He graduated from West Point in the class of 1947 as a Second Lieutenant of infantry and served as a company commander with the 5th Regimental Combat Team during the Korean War. He then served on the staff and faculty of the infantry school followed by an assignment as a tactical officer at the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was a graduate of the Navy Command and Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College and the Army War College. General Emerson was best known as a combat commander in three wars: a Company Commander in the Korean War; a Battalion Commander in the Dominican Republic and Brigade Commander in the Vietnam War. His General officer assignments were as the Assistant Division Commander, 82nd Airborne Division; Commanding General 2nd Infantry Division; Commanding General, John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance and the Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps. According to those that knew Him best, such as Colin Powell, who would go on to become the U.S. Secretary of State, what set him apart as a combat commander was his great love for his soldiers and his concern for their welfare. During his command in the Vietnam War, he conceived aerial reconnaissance and combat methods that employed effectively against the Viet Cong. These included a checkerboard concept that involves small groups covering grid squares to seek out an enemy, and jitterbug tactics which are complex maneuvers using helicopters to surround an enemy. This would seem jittery like the dance when Eagle Flights, which were helicopters loaded with local soldiers, were flown in quickly to assist foreign troops in certain situations. He demonstrated that American soldiers could effectively "out-guerrilla" the Viet Cong. Emerson also developed the "seal-and-pile-on technique" (the rapid build-up of combat power to surround and destroy an enemy force). General Emerson, who was fraternally called "The Gunfighter" by his troops, was one of the most decorated officers in the history of the United States Army. He received a Master Parachutist - a Combat/Infantry Badge with Star - Two Distinguished Service Crosses - three Distinguished Service Medals - five Silver Stars - and two Purple Hearts among others. General Emerson had a saying on his wall "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away". Today, the General has "Faded Away" and we salute him one last time. General Emerson is survived by his nephew, Richard Emerson Wilkins of Wilmington, NC; a niece, Marie Page Riggle of Towson, MD; a grand-niece, Elizabeth Page Wilkins of Melrose, MA and her husband, Lt. Colonel Joseph G. Marine, USMA and two great- grand-nephews, William Quinn Hardisty and Joseph William Marine. Memorial Services and interment will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery later this spring and will be announced at a later date. Donations should be made to the Fisher House at 12 Bassett Street, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28307.Memorial Services and interment will be held at the Arlington National Cemetery later this spring and will be announced at a later date. Donations should be made to the Fisher House at 12 Bassett Street, Fort Bragg, North Carolina 28307.


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Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 8, 2015.
Memories & Condolences
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67 entries
August 13, 2020
Bob & Martha Cain
Those exciting Pro Life boxing smokers, where we squared off against the USMC boxers will always live in my memory. The pursuit of Golden Gloves will never leave my heart...as will your personal pursuit of excellence, as well as, ours remains ~forever.Only Gen Schwarzkopf, ever came near you, for soulfully loving your soldiers, officer & enlisted. Rest warm, sir & know we admire you still~& will follow with pride.
martha cain
August 12, 2020
Marco Morales
August 12, 2020
Marco Morales
August 12, 2020
Marco Morales
August 11, 2020
I was stationed with the 2nd Infantry Division from April 1974 to April 1975, during which time I participated as a young Pfc. in the 2ID's reenlistment poster contest which, after winning the top entry, had the privilege of being invited to dinner and a movie at the "Gunfighter's" quarters along with another soldier who had won 2nd place. It is true what GEN Colin Powell said about General Emerson in that he truly cared for the welfare of his Soldiers in every regard. He (Emerson) is one of the kindest and caring Soldiers I had the honor and privilege of serving early on in my 20-year career. Hooah!!
Marco Morales
May 18, 2020
I served with General Emerson in the HHQ Office 2nd Ind Div Camp Casey, late 1972 - early 1974. Worked for the General as well as in the G3 Ops. It was tensed but a pleasure to serve with Gunfighter. Walter biggins.
Walter Biggins
Military
February 11, 2020
I was a CID Agent at Ft. Bragg when LTG Emerson was newly assigned(1975)as the XVIII Airborne Corps and Ft. Bragg Commander. Though I did not meet him until 1977, he was the 2d ID Commander when I was in S. Korea. Everyone in S. Korea knew who he was. He invented "Combat Football" and was well known for making sure his troops were in top notch shape. After he arrived at Ft. Bragg, we began "getting into shape" too. In 1977, I solved a criminal case involving 13 break ins on Ft. Bragg. LTG Emerson pinned on my ARCOM. That was a proud moment for me. His very presence generated energy. He was surely a great Army commander.

Ronald Knighton
July 9, 2019
Off duty 122nd Signal Battalion Camp Casey 1975
Steven Vaughn
May 20, 2019
I served under General Emerson during 1974-1975 Camp Casey Korea. I was assigned to the 122nd Signal Battalion on one occasion General Emerson landed at my Relay communication site to make a secure call. It was a honor to meet him especially during a field operation. RIP Sir. Sgt. Steven Vaughn
Steven Vaughn
March 7, 2018
The "Gunfighter" was one of my great US Army admirations/admirers...as a soldier & artist I served proudly...this admired man,and profound leader.Painting a portrait is an expression of artistic intimacy but even more a legend, shared. Misunderstood by many, incapable of his vast, pro-life vision, he lived his life on his own terms, with little apology and no regret. The pearl handled colts were what gave him his nickname but his never ending dream for his men, gave him his legacy.
martha cain
March 6, 2018
I served at the 121 Evac Hospital in Korea when LTG Emerson commanded the 2nd Infantry Division. I remember when he would visit his troops, always very concerned about their welfare and the care they were receiving.
Dennis Level
January 10, 2018
He is of the greatest individuals I have ever served with. He supported me in the implementation of the first rehabilitation program for recalcitrant soldiers - A program called SPARTAN PATHFINDER. During his leadership as the Commanding General for Special Forces he demonstrated that we can help those who need strong leadership which enabled many to receive honorable discharges. The program was implemented under Col Joseph Love Commander of 7th Special Forces.
Thank you very much. Chris Robbins, MAJOR, US Army, RET.
Chris Robibins
September 30, 2016
I will fade away someday soon, dear Sir. Will the Gunfighter lead, as always? Doc and Bern, too. The Gunfighter's girl
martha cain
January 16, 2016
Fond memories of hard days and raucous nights
I served under General Emerson...and have nothing but fond memories and respect
Jeff Isenhart
January 14, 2016
I served in the 2ID when he was the CG. Remember his "pro life" symbols were all over the division in the form of the Egyptian ank.

Tsm
November 30, 2015
One of Gunfighter's "fastest guns" (Self Propelled Vulcan) crossing the Hatan Gang north of Camp Casey.
November 2, 2015
Proudly served with The Gunfighter in the 2ID in 1975: We are "Fit To Fight" The division Motto. General Emerson was the best commander for 2ID at that time; He knew how to pull the soldiers together.
Steve Brady
August 8, 2015
You were the best soldier-general ever. The absolute greatest. Rest in peace, Sir.
Charles Toftoy
August 7, 2015
With deepest respect to your great service to our country and deepest sympathy to your family and your country who grieve now. Respectfuly, Pamela Griffin Law, Daughter of Peter and Brenda Griffin
April 8, 2015
I'm Hank's godson. My family and son (named after Hank) have fond memories and are sad at his passing
Steve Williams stelmo757@yahoo.com
Steve Williams
March 23, 2015
i remember his leadership at Ft. Bragg,how he liked his soldiers and his hospital visits.
March 22, 2015
He was My Commanding General at Bragg Rip ABN
Steve Rud
March 8, 2015
We great graditude for your devotion to the United States and all that it stands for. RIP & AATW!!!
Leon Strigotte
March 8, 2015
I am thankful to have the opportunity to serve under the "GREATEST" General in this "Mans" Army. 1974-75...James Peoples
James Peoples
March 7, 2015
R.I.P. Sir!!!
Sgt. Billy Smith
March 7, 2015
R.I.P. SIR (GUNFIGHTER) SALUTE IT WAS MY PRIVLE
DGE TO SERVE UNDER YOU.
March 7, 2015
Rest warrior this battle is over I salute you, job well done lives changed for the better. Service to the True King begins REST IN PEACE
Walter Chambers
March 7, 2015
RIP BROTHER
Bob Moylan
March 7, 2015
It was an honor to serve under your command. May you RIP. AATW
Robert Webster
March 7, 2015
I met the General, once, in person, but served under him and knew of him and his reputation as a soldier's General. I would have followed him to Hell and back, or anywhere he wanted to lead me, because I knew he would get there...and back...without fail!
Joe Schwenz Sr.
March 7, 2015
it sounds like you were loved by all, and l'm glad l could hear about it. With the love and prayers to your family and friends, RIP to a great hero GOD BLESS
KATHY SWANSON
March 7, 2015
All The Way, Sir!

R.I.P.
Dave Butts
March 7, 2015
Rest in Peace, Sir
Proud member of the 82nd Airborne
ATW
Michael Cronin
March 7, 2015
Fly high
Terry Brumback
March 7, 2015
Rest in peace Sir.
Jim Lawson
March 7, 2015
RIP SLOW SALUTE TO YOU SIR
MANY PRAYERS FOR YOUR FAMILY IN THIS TIME OF NEED. GOD BLESS HOPE TO MEET YOU SOME DAY EVEN THOUGH I NEVER MET YOU.
GARRY JOHNSTON
March 7, 2015
It served under you in Viet nam and again in South Korea. RIP Sir.
victor Provencio
March 7, 2015
R.I.P. Brother. Thanks for your service!
Frank Drake
March 7, 2015
ALL THE WAY SIR!
Sgt. Hudson
March 7, 2015
Who could forget 'Gunfighter'. Thanks sir for your service to this country and all those who served in your commands... RIP Sir, RIP
BJ King
March 7, 2015
Rest in peace; to a great American. Wish I had had to privilege of knowing you personally.
Daniel Darrell
March 7, 2015
Rest in Peace, Sir. Once Airborne, Always Airborne!
Paul Harmon
March 7, 2015

To a great American who sacrificed for his nation. A true Patriot and leader. he will be missed.
March 7, 2015
Rest In Peace sir. May God keep you in his warm and loving embrace forever. AATW!
Michael Caballero
March 7, 2015
Rest in Peace, Sir
THANK YOU for your service
TAPS:

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the skies.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep.
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.


Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.


Fades the light; And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.


Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh
Steven Coderre
March 6, 2015
A TRUE American Patriot !!
May God Bless this man of honor, bravery and heart. If the world could only live by the standards the General instilled in is family, friends and troops we would be at peace and understand the true meaning of faith and love. Fraternally yours Sir, Joed Miller (son of your friend and fellow warrior LTC. Archibald S. Miller)
Joed Miller
March 6, 2015
R I P, GOD BLESS...
Billy Smith
March 5, 2015
A true military tactician, warrior, and leader. Rest in peace Sir.
John Filiczkowski
March 5, 2015
We've lost a true warrior and leader. He was an asset to the United States and his loss will be felt years to come. Man out of ranks....Sir!
Jack Stroud
March 5, 2015
Thank you General Emerson for your service and dedication to this country, freedom, and those who served with you. My deepest condolences to your family and friends everywhere. Rest in peace, sir.
Michael Monnin
March 5, 2015
Sir you will be missed you were the best GEN that I have ever served and fought with. I still remember in 1974 when you had a what you called a GUNFEST with the good old boonesfarm apple wine you sat with us and said that we were the best that he's ever served with and that it made you proud. SIR YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY. GOD BLESS YOUAND MAY YOU NOW R.I.P. SIR
fred calloway
February 23, 2015
Hand Salute, general! Fond memories of you and your mentoring of me at the Indianhead Division . Great fun jumping with you and Colonel Braim onto the golf course at TDC.
CWO4 Dave Mann
February 15, 2015
General Emerson was a man of uncommon courage, a walking history book, an American hero, and a man of grace and tenderness. When we last dined together, he tearfully toasted all the soldiers on his watch who didn't make it home," a reality that weighed heavy on his heart. We salute you, General, for your courageous service to God and country. The poet Tagore said it well--"Death is not extinguishing the light. It is putting out the lamp because the dawn has come." Bishop George Leo Thomas, Diocese of Helena
February 14, 2015
I miss you Hank. I was very inspired by you and priviledged to have been the last guy to have a drink with you on your deck overlooking the lake. I learned a lot from you in these last few months. I learned the importance of having a plan every day, enjoying a fire, good food and drink, reaching out to people who inspire you, giving gifts and praise to people you appreciate, dinner parties, living the West Point Honor Code, love of God and country and service. You were more of a mentor to me than you will ever know. My boys still talk about going out to "Hank's house to our rooms." I miss watching old movies and talking politics with you. This marine will never forget you and I salute you sir. God speed and God bless you my friend.
Mike Hagman
February 14, 2015
Hank So glad I had a chance to visit with you last year in Florida. Didn"t know it would be our last time.Cousin George Poillon
george poillon
February 12, 2015
Hank you will be missed here so much, I know you are happy to be home with your mom, dad and sister. I hope you fishing with Holly right now.
Shannon Edwards
February 12, 2015
Hank Emerson
Shannon Edwards
February 12, 2015
I talk to your spirit my General, my friend. We spent many times together on the battle field and I was your aide. We drank to one another and to our fallen when we bedded down at night. We travelled across our country visiting the graves of those gone on before us. We continued our close bond of friendship up to the last day you were with us here on earth. You were waiting for me to arrive where we would once again vacation together and remember our lives and those we met along the way. We loved one another and we would alway sign off from each phone call with "I love you" and it came from the heart. I will miss your calls and our visits and being able to travel the states together. My wife Linda went to be with the Lord a few months before you and you were so concerned about me. Now you are with our Lord together with your family and mine. Until I see you again my General, my friend, it only a matter of time.
Chuck Wise
February 11, 2015
You will be missed my friend Sue Bartole Al Loppie and the guys from A and A Plumbing
Al loppie
February 9, 2015
Gen Emerson was a man of action, of strength, a fighting soldier, bold with passion, a no nonsense leader, lover of the infantry(Queen of Battle), fierce competitor on the battlefield.
Charles Toftoy
February 9, 2015
The loss of someone so close is difficult to bear. We share your grief.
Ps. 55:22
February 9, 2015
Thirty plus years ago this gentleman help the founder of the martial arts style I train in come to the USA. "Thank you" would never cover my appreciation. Rest in peace, sir.
Matt S.
February 9, 2015
RIP Sir Was an honor for this Trooper to have maintained commo with you for a number of years. Remember the "Fit To Fight" program and Combat Football at Ft Bragg under your Leadership as 18th ABN Corps Commander. Airborne Warrior Through and Through. Till we link up once again. GBU ALL THE WAY SIR AND THEN SOME
Bobby Wingate
February 9, 2015
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort.
Rev 21:3&4 G. Johnson
February 8, 2015
From all of the men in the 2/502 INF. REG. 101st Airborne Division.
We have lost one of our greatest Commanders.
"Gunfighter" as he was known to all of us, was the one man who changed how battle was conducted in Vietnam. From Phan Rang, through the battles at Dak To, Gunfighter was the one who held Our Battalion together.
YES, it was the BEST SCOTCH he could find, that was in his 2nd canteen. This was confirmed at our 2/502 Reunion in 2012.
Rest in Peace SIR.
You may be gone, but Your Legacy will live FOREVER.
STRIKE FORCE
2/502Bn 101st Airborne Div.
February 8, 2015
He was my plebe basketball coach.His guidance made us the BEST Plebe team ever.God rest his soul
Erndog Remus class of 1960
February 8, 2015
With great respect - it was an honor to serve with and be led by you, and to be your friend. Rest in peace.
James Peterson
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