A Tribute to Lt. Gen. Jonathan O. Seaman, West Point '34, World War II and Vietnam veteran: Vietnam 50th Anniversary
By Richard A Eckert Sr., American Legion Post 42, Ocean Springs, Miss.
As a member of Post 42, I would like to remember and honor the service of Lt. Gen. Jonathan O. Seaman, a veteran of World War II and Vietnam. In addition to my two older brothers who served two tours in Vietnam, this occasion also requires remembering the service of Seaman in Vietnam. Seaman had a connection to my father, a high school graduate who enlisted in World War I to follow his older brother to end all wars, was promoted to sergeant and commissioned in 1920. Some 53 years later in 1971, after serving 38 years' active service during the World War I, World War II and Korea eras, my father was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Two staff cars pulled up at the Post Meyer Chapel. Several staff military personnel quietly sat in the back for the service. After the chapel service and burial service, 3-star Gen. Seaman, 6 ft. 4 ‘’ and medals covering his chest, approached my mother to express his condolences. He stated that he was my dad’s 4th Field Artillery Regiment battalion commander during World War II when my dad commanded the 25th Division Artillery in the South Pacific during several battle campaigns, and expressed to my mother how much he appreciated his leadership.
What follows is Seaman's bio. Seaman was born in Manila, Philippines, the son of a U.S. Army officer, B/Gen Albert Owen Seaman, and his wife, Florence Thompson (Look) Seaman, 11 Dec 1911. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy, graduating with the class of 1934, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 16th Field Artillery at Fort Myer, Va. It was there he learned the exploits of my uncle, Dad’s older brother, and his combat experiences in World War I. From December 1935 to 1938, Seaman served as a White House military aide. After a teaching assignment at West Point in 1939, he was promoted to captain with the 4th Field Artillery at Fort Bragg. By 1942, he was a major and battalion commander of the 4th Field Artillery regiment. He served in World War II in both the European and Pacific theaters. From 1953 to 1954, he commanded the 30th Field Artillery Group at Yorkhof Kasserne, Germany. Seaman was later honored in 1999 by the 30th Field Artillery when the 3rd Battalion headquarters at Fort Sill, Okla., was named "Seaman Hall."
Vietnam and Retirement: As a major general in 1965, Seaman was named commander of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan. The 1st Division was the first Army combat division to be called up for service during the Vietnam War, arriving in theater in July 1965, with Seaman being the first of six combat commanders during the war. In March 1966, Seaman was promoted to commander of U.S. II Field Force, a 100,000-man fighting force that included the 1st Division, along with two other divisions and several independent brigades. In 1971, he retired to Beaufort, S.C., after 37 years of active duty. Seaman was married to Mary Grunert, daughter of U.S. Army Gen. and former First United States Army commander George Grunert. Seaman died at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 18, 1986, at 74. He was buried at the Beaufort National Cemetery. God bless and rest in peace, Gen. Jonathan O. Seaman on the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.