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Columbians in the Military

From the Battlefields of Shiloh and Vietnam To the Halls of Kent and Greene: Columbians in the Military


Some did their bit and left; others made the military a career. This round-up profiles alumni/ae who have served from the Civil War to the present day.

By Kate Forristall,
Contributing Editor
The Columbia Law School Report

When Judge Richard Andrias '70 joined the ROTC at Bowdoin College in 1961, he had no idea what lay ahead of him. "My plan for my tour of duty was to see Europe," he says. "At that time no one even knew where Vietnam was."

Four years later, his orders to proceed to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, Tex., were changed. He was going to Vietnam, a tiny country that now loomed large in the mind of the American government. He spent 13 months as an intelligence officer in the field with the First Air Cavalry, interviewing North Vietnamese prisoners and civilians for information. Having planned during college to attend law school, he took on several court martial cases for soldiers who otherwise would have had no defense. One of the benefits was "three hots and a cot" and a reprieve from the field, says Judge Andrias, now a justice of the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department.

Columbians in the military

Columbia Law School alumni/ae and students have served in all branches of the armed forces from the time of the Civil War. Eighteen students were in the military during the Civil War, and three died. Perhaps the most noteworthy was Charles Chaillé-Long 1880. After his discharge, he was commissioned in the Egyptian army, explored the Victoria Nile, and was awarded a medal by the American Geographical Society. After graduating from the Law School, he became consul general and secretary to the delegation in Korea and wrote of his travels in books such as My Life in Four Continents.

During World War I, four successive editors of the Law Review resigned to enter the service. (Dean Harlan Fiske Stone 1898 was also called to do his part; in 1918, he was appointed to a board examining the treatment of conscientious objectors.) Further down the road, 90 percent of the class of 1948 were veterans returning from World War II. Columbians also served during the Vietnam War in the late 1960s and early ‘70s when, due to draft regulations, seven consecutive years through college and law school was almost unheard of. Alumni/ae continue to serve today. While the reasons for wars and battle tactics have changed in 140 years, alumni/ae interviewed for this article fall into two categories: those who served and were eager to begin a new phase of life by entering law school, and those who had found their life's calling in the military and obtained a set of legal skills with which to pursue it.

Colonel Samuel Hogan '50 falls into the second group. A native Texan and West Point graduate, he joined the cavalry in 1938 just prior to its switch from horses to tanks. As head of the 33rd Armored Regiment, he landed at Normandy following D-Day, fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and participated in the liberation of the Nord-hausen prison camp. Peacetime duty followed. He requested assignment in Germany, he says, partly because "the hunting and fishing were excellent." Among his assignments was serving as president of a war crimes court trying Germans accused of killing captured American bomber crews. However, it was an accident during his peacetime service that caused this recipient of a Silver Star to head for Columbia Law School. "I had just shattered my knee on the Autobahn and decided a "‘second career' might come in handy," he says.

After receiving his J.D. in 1950, Col. Hogan returned to the army and had a number of military assignments. His final posting was as defense attaché to the U.S. ambassador in Quito, Ecuador. After leaving the military in 1968, he ran a farm in Quito and took clients hunting and fishing in the upper Amazon rain forest. Today he resides in Corpus Christi, Tex.

While Col. Hogan was already in the Army on December 7, 1941, the day was a turning point for many other Columbians. Brigadier General Duane Faw '47 says he was a draft dodger until that infamous day. "I didn't think we should be involved in a war in Europe. I hadn't registered and wasn't going to. But on December 8, I got up early and drove to Dallas, where there were two lines a block long in front of the Army recruiting office," he recalls. "The Navy office was completely empty." Gen. Faw avoided the queue and joined the Navy. Already a licensed pilot, he was immediately dispatched to the air in an SBD (a dive bomber) and flew 79 combat missions over the South Pacific.

Judge Jack Weinstein '48 and Professor Jack Greenberg '48, from that famous Class of 1948, also served in the Navy. Prof. Greenberg entered through a special college program in September 1941, and Judge Weinstein enlisted after Pearl Harbor. Both chuckle as they remember being part of the Navy's "90-Day Wonder" program. "It was a training program that was supposed to bring us up to the speed of the midshipmen graduates from Annapolis," says Judge Weinstein. He received electronics and physics training and reported for work aboard a submarine.

Prof. Greenberg was allowed to finish college before being assigned, at the age of 20, as an officer aboard an LST-715, a landing ship that launched vehicles and men. A crew of about 250 sailed the vessel down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to New Orleans, where the ship was outfitted with guns, and then taken through the Panama Canal and into the South Pacific. "I'd never even heard of Iwo Jima, but prior to the invasion there the priest gave everyone last rites in case he couldn't get to them," he remembers. "Being Jewish, I declined."

After his involvement in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Prof. Greenberg and his crew attacked Iheya Jima in one of the last invasions of the war. Before dawn, warships and airplanes blasted the beach. As the bombardment ended, lines of amphibious tanks and trucks carrying Marines emerged from landing ships. Boats lowered from LSTs displayed flags up high and headed for the beach.

"Suddenly, our ship's number-one boat started describing a large circle, its rudder jammed," recalls Prof. Greenberg. "‘Mr. Greenberg, man the number-two boat!' came the captain's voice from a loudspeaker. I climbed down a ladder into the 36-foot craft and zoomed to the head of the line. But in a few minutes, the other boat, rudder fixed, pulled alongside. Its officer shouted to me, "‘Go back!' I returned to the ship, and he went on to the beach. The Marines stormed ashore. But Japanese defenders, if they ever existed, had departed long before."

Judge Marilyn Sullivan '49 was one of three female vets out of the seven women in her class. Following graduation from Radcliffe, where she was a member of the U.S. Naval Reserves/WAVES, Judge Sullivan went to Washington, D.C., to work on a communications program that has yet to be declassified. The around-the-clock shifts left some days free to observe the U.S. Congress in session.

"That experience," she says, "was one of the influences that led me to law school." After graduating, she clerked for a judge in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, practiced real estate law at a Boston firm, and was appointed to the Massachusetts Land Court in 1973. She became chief justice ­ the first woman chief justice of the court ­ in 1985 and retired in 1993.

Wartime experiences also influenced Professor Arthur Murphy '48 to consider law school. For example, he participated in a special court martial investigation involving child abuse in France, though he admits that it wasn't until the war ended that his thoughts turned fully to the future. "People didn't think much beyond the service," he says. "When the war ended we had the wonderful option of the GI Bill which meant that, suddenly, we could do anything."

Gen. Faw began law school im-mediately after the war's end, about the time Judge Weinstein was asking his mother to send him books about lawyers so he could make a decision between physics and the law. "She sent me Oliver Wendell Holmes's The Common Law, " he recalls. "I didn't understand any of it, which didn't stop me from deciding that I was going to law school." Prof. Greenberg's interest in legal matters came from his family, as well as military service. "My parents were Socialist/Zionists, so growing up, the civil rights struggle was something I believed in as an abstraction," he says, "Then I saw the world and understood its place in reality."

The two-year program that Columbia offered after the war served the returning veterans well. They were eager to begin the next phase of their lives. Physics promised a longer route toward a job than an accelerated law program. The birth of his first child during the opening days of law school was one indication that he'd made the right choice. "Harvard wouldn't have admitted me until February 1947, plus they added a seventh semester, which meant I would have graduated nine months later than at Columbia," recalls Prof. Murphy. "And that just seemed like too long at the time to wait."

New wars; new challenges

The challenges for returning Vietnam veterans were different, but no less daunting. Arriving back in the United States in ones and twos, rather than in the masses as had the World War II vets, they faced riots on campus and fellow students opposed to the service they had just rendered.

Spencer Hays '73 completed one year of law school before volunteering for the Army. "The draft board was after me," recalls Mr. Hays, AOL/Time Warner's senior vice president and deputy general counsel. "I knew I'd never be able to finish, so I volunteered and went into Officer Candidate School (OCS)." After finishing OCS and further training, he arrived in Vietnam in 1970. For the next 11 months, he worked in the brigade headquarters supply area in Tan An, the delta south of Saigon, and then was reassigned to Cam Rhan Bay at the command headquarters.

John Pritchard '76 enlisted in the Navy for the same reason. "My OCS class was full of guys like me," he says. Mr. Pritchard, currently a partner at Holland & Knight in New York, was assigned to a destroyer, did submarine exercises in the Atlantic, and did a five-month cruise around South America participating in naval exercises with other countries. His earlier acceptance to Columbia Law School expired, necessitating reapplication.

It was the same for Judge Andrias. From the village of Pleiku, 250 miles northeast of Saigon, he sent off his application to Columbia Law School and was re-accepted. "The military mail was so fast, sometimes it could travel in 36 hours from Vietnam to the East Coast," he says. "By mid-August of 1967, I flew back to the States, went to a Red Sox game, and spent a week at the Cape." A week later, he entered law school, which helped ease his transition from the jungles of Vietnam to Morningside Heights. "It gave me something to focus on. If I'd had a year off, I think I would have had a much harder time."

The last decade

Without the draft or a major war, more recent graduates have not been pressed into the service. They have chosen it. Lieutenant Marc Guarin '95 knew before he entered law school that the Navy was his career choice and his course selections at the Law School reflected that.

"I took Professor [Telford] Taylor's Law of War and War Crimes course...though it was a little daunting to know that the man teaching this intimate seminar had personally prosecuted the top Nazis 45 years earlier," recalls Lt. Guarin. He also benefited from Adjunct Professor Michael Marks Cohen's '65 Admiralty Law course, "which proved valuable, interesting, and most colorful."

The same adjectives could be used to describe a career that has taken Lt. Guarin around the world. His initial posting was as a staff judge advocate aboard the USS Essex, a 41,000-ton amphibious assault ship with a crew of 3,000. The cruise coincided with the terrorist attacks on the embassies in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi, and the crew spent 104 of their last 110 days at sea on high alert. His next assignment was at the naval air station in Keflavik, Iceland, "one of the last pristine places on earth." For the past two years, he has been the senior prosecutor in Yokasuka, Japan, serving the forward deployed Seventh Fleet.

Also serving in Yokasuka in the Naval Legal Service Office, Pacific, is Sylvaine Wong '01. Currently a legal assistance division officer, she works with sailors and their families to provide a broad array of legal services both in Japan and back in the United States. Though she initially enlisted with only a three-year tour in mind, the job has given her a great deal of satisfaction.

"I didn't know if there would be an opportunity to do what I enjoy in the law, but once you're in you get to see all the different options there really are. I feel like I can genuinely help people here," she says. While much of Lt. Wong's work would be familiar to general practitioners, other aspects are completely unique to life in the service.

Her training took her aboard an AEGIS class destroyer for two weeks, where she participated fully in the "line community" that runs the ship. It included live firing exercises and conning (navigating and directing) the ship. "It's rewarding to see sailors on the job, whom I've seen as clients, who are refocused on their work again because they no longer have legal issues to worry about."

While Daryl Mundis '91 found similar satisfaction, he didn't exactly find excitement during his early days in the service. "If I joined the Navy to see the world I would have been disappointed. My first assignment took me all of 90 miles down the New Jersey Turnpike to Philadelphia!" he says. Mr. Mundis, whose interests are in national security and international law, spent six years in the Navy doing both prosecution and criminal defense work throughout the United Kingdom and Germany. However, it was after he left the service that the experience took him far afield.

In February 1998, he met Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, president of the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal. She had been looking for a lawyer with a military background and hired him as her international humanitarian law adviser. He has spent the past five years in The Hague, where his work assignments have taken him to rape sites in Bosnia and the killing fields of Kosovo. He also helped draft the prosecution's response to ex-Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's challenge to the tribunal's jurisdiction.

Tae Hyun Chung's '96 law school degree also led to important international work. After graduating and joining the law firm of Kim & Chang in Seoul, he did his three years of obligatory service with the South Korean military. He helped negotiate the amendments to the Status of Forces Agreement with the United States Army (an experience he notes as unique "for being one instance in which having a lawyer actually speeded up the process!"). His experience took him from the Korean JAG Office to the Ministry of National Defense to the Army's Office of the General Counsel. Today, he is back at Kim & Chang, doing mergers and acquisitions, foreign investment, and telecommunications law.

The Law School also has a number of recent graduates and current students who have served or are serving in the military. Peter Belk '02 is currently a captain (military intelligence) in the U.S. Army Reserves. Mr. Belk received his commission through an ROTC program at the University of Pennsylvania 10 years ago. He is now a corporate attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York.

Charles Yi '03 was in the Amry from 1993-98 as an armored cavalry officer. His experience includes serving with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea's DMZ and with the 1st Armored Division in Germany and Bosnia. His platoon of cavalry scouts was the first American combat unit to cross the Sava River into Bosnia in December 1995, as part of NATO's Implementation Force. After graduation, he will practice at a New York firm.

For Judges Andrias and Weinstein, military service aided their careers. "I handled Agent Orange cases and those of draft dodgers who fled to Canada," says Judge Weinstein. "I saw patent cases differently because of my work with electronics on the submarine." Concurs Judge Andrias: "The military gave me a different view of humanity. I'm open to hearing everything before making a decision."

Captain Edward Magennis '36, who died in 2001, is perhaps rare among law school graduates or graduates of any school. He joined the Navy in 1942 after practicing law in New York City for six years. After serving in the Naval Armed Guards during WWII, he returned to his former job doing contract work. His widow, Irene, said he soon found his nine-to-five terribly tedious. "He would jokingly say he wanted to head for Deadwood City and hang out a shingle because he was so bored doing what he was doing before the war," she recalls. In 1946, Captain Magennis transferred from the Naval Reserve to active service in the U.S. Navy, finally retiring in 1968.

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