American Veteran 02

Elmer Carl "Whitey" Reese

November 11, 1930 ~ November 13, 2022 (age 92) 92 Years Old
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Obituary

Elmer Carl "Whitey" Reese

November 11,1930 - November 12, 2022

 

 

Elmer Carl "Whitey" Reese passed away November 12, 2022, One day after his ninety-second birthday, with family by his side.

Elmer was born in Punkin' Holler, in the Ozarks of Missouri, on November 11, 1930, to Ira Raymond Reese and Lillie Marie (Jackson) Reese. He spent his first six years on Carr's Creek, Missouri, until the family relocated to St. Louis in 1936, where he lived until joining the Missouri National Guard at the age of 13 and enlisting in the U.S. Army at the age of 15. He earned his "sixth stripe" on the U.S. Korean War battlefield at the age of 19 and was proud to have worn six stripes for 19 years, retiring from the Army after 23. He was only 38.
 
In 1951, while on furlough from Korea, he married his wife of nearly 72 years, Mary Ann "Mickey" Reese. His love for her never faded. Together they raised three beloved children while traveling the world, with Elmer serving 21 months in the Korean War theatre, as the first infantry unit deployed to the frontlines; two years in Berlin, Germany, during the Berlin Wall crisis, where he ran the communications security facility ; duty with Operation Dominic in the Pacific, running the crypto communication service for its chief scientist, where he witnessed 11 nuclear bomb tests, up to 15 megatons, conducted in 1962; and five duty assignments to Vietnam during wartime.
 
Elmer's war service earned him a Purple Heart Medal Award and a Bronze Star Award, with several additional awards and commendations. He was most proud of his Combat Infantry Badge, earned for his infantry service in the front lines of combat. He later became a vociferous advocate for support groups of wounded servicemembers and those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
 
After infantry service, his military carrier led him into the field of electronics and cryptography, specialties he taught and interests he maintained for the rest of his life. Elmer and his family located to the Fort Huachuca/Sierra Vista, Arizona, area in 1967, transferring from the Washington, DC area with the U.S. Army Strategic Communications Command. For twenty years post-retirement, he managed the U.S. Army Electronic Proving Ground's Antenna Test Facility, locally known as "The Arc," at Fort Huachuca. In the late sixties and early seventies, he served as a reserve Deputy Sheriff for Cochise County.
 
In his later years, Elmer was honored to represent military war veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars in local parades. He was a tireless supporter of the local chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, where he served as a Junior Vice Commander and Chairman of the Hearing Loop Committee, raising funds and providing free hearing loops to veterans with hearing issues. During these years, he was awarded a Congressional Certificate of Recognition, presented by U.S. Senator Martha McSally, and the Patriot of the Year Award, for patriotism and selfless service recognized by the Military Order of the Purple Heart: and was instrumental in Sierra Vista being recognized as the second official Purple Heart City in Arizona. His service of many years on the Board of Directors of the 8th Cavalry Regimental Association earned him their first Davis Award in 1995, for his body of work with the organization.
 
Elmer had a broad base of interests and became known as a jack of all trades, having built the family home with his own hands, a four-year process, and experimenting with success in a broad range of both artistic and scientific pursuits. Over the years, he amassed a large collection of world postage stamps issued prior to 1950, published short stories in the mystery genre, painted oil portraits and landscapes, and owned champion dachshunds acquired in Germany. He was a prolific inventor and builder of an eclectic mix of things from raw and sourced materials, such as telescopes, metal detectors, hovercrafts, licensed distilleries, and so much more. He had a great love of firearms, had been a licensed firearms dealer in the 1960s, did beautiful custom wood inlays in rifle stocks, and became a volunteer range master at the Sierra Vista shooting range. He loaded his own ammunition and donated this to the range-affiliated women's shooting club, the Shooting Stars, for many years. In the 1970s, Elmer developed an interest in the sport of fast draw and competed in several local competitions, his best fast-draw time being .22 seconds. In 2012, he won the adult division in the Sierra Vista Library's poetry contest with his poem, "The Fastest Gun In the West." He loved to photograph Arizona sunsets.
 
The combination of his creative and military interests resulted in his creating and maintaining three significant websites: moph572.org, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Chapter 572; 8cavalry.org, the 8th Cavalry Regiment Association; and the blog, "Ramblings Of Whitey Reese," which evolved into the largest and most accurate database of U.S. Army Korean War Casualty records in the country and the largest website in Arizona. The information he gathered was instrumental in identifying remains recovered in North Korea from 1999 to 2004. Archives of this website continue to be accessed by researchers.
 
For Veteran's Day, also his birthday, in 2017, Sierra Vista's Herald Review filmed an interview with Elmer chronicling his military service for their "Salute To Services" series. The interview is still available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C1614HRn0Q&t=19s.
 
His entire life, Elmer's greatest loves were his wife, Mickey, and their three children, Gerrie Reese-Jones (Frederick Jones), Ginger Reese-Myers (Peter Aguilar), and Gordon (Dorothy) Reese, all of whom survive him. He and Gerrie had an especially close relationship due to their shared civil service experiences and creative interests. He and Ginger were bonded at the hip due to their shared love of horses and spent a summer together traveling horseback throughout Arizona. Gordon was the apple of Elmer's eye, his son with whom he shared all things inventive and in whose accomplishments he took great pride.
 
Elmer also loved deeply and is survived by his grandchildren, Chelsea Salmon (Alfred Nash), Caitlin Jones-Seebacher (Christopher Seebacher), Justin Salmon (Dallas Bullington), Ethan (Julia) Myers, Andrew Myers, Christen Jones (Brandon Reks) and Hannah Myers; great-grandchildren Ashlyn, Alyssa, Danyka, Ashlynn, Theodore, Luke, Raelynn and Adeline; numerous other family and friends; and his faithful service dog Comadre.
 
Elmer's family would like to thank Soldier's Best Friend and the Wounded Warrior Project for bringing his service dog, whom he named Comadre for her friendship, into his life.
 
 
Paw, you will be missed.
 
 
 
 

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Services

Graveside Service with Military Honors
Tuesday
November 22, 2022

11:00 AM
Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery

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