Ralph Allen Starner
Colonel, United States Army
of his classmates
United States Military Academy Class of 1946
Ralph Allen Starner
Ralph Allen Starner was born on 19 August 1921 at Omaha, Nebraska. The Starner family soon moved to Hoffman, Minnesota, where Ralph spent his early years. Following graduation from high school he attended Concordia College at Moorhead, Minnesota, earning a degree in chemistry. Ralph became a Cadet at the United States Military Academy on 1 July 1943.
Ralph quickly won the esteem and respect of his associates in the Corps of Cadets and established a reputation as a man of strong character and high moral principles. A classmate had this to say in the 1946 HOWIIZER: "Ralph makes friends very easily and we are sure he will be a credit to the long gray line." As did many of his associates, Ralph entered pilot training during Third Class year. He was assigned to flight school at Chickasha, Oklahoma, and during this short tour of duty he met his wife, Joy Jones, of Ardmore, Oklahoma, then a college student at nearby Oklahoma College for Women. Ralph graduated with the Class of 1946 on 4 June 1946 and was commissioned in the Field Artillery.
Ralph and Joy Jones were married at Ardmore, Oklahoma, on 30 August 1946 during graduation leave. Ralph attended the Field Artillery Officers Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Fort Bliss, Texas, until mid-1947 when he joined the 472d Field Artillery Battalion, 11th Airborne Division, in Japan. The Starners' son, Steven Cage Starner, was born at Jinmachi, Japan, on 13 January 1949. In the fall of 1950, Ralph entered combat in Korea with the 674th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion of the 187th Regimental Combat Team and participated in both parachute landings made by the 187th Regimental Combat Team. This tour in Korea was followed by duty with the 675th Airborne Field Artillery Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Ralph returned to Fort Sill in 1952, where he attended the Artillery Officers Advanced Course in 1952-1953. Next came a civil schooling assignment at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where Ralph earned a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering. He then returned to Fort Sill for duty with the Artillery School in the Communications-Electronics Department until 1959. The next permanent change of station took him to the Command and General Staff College for the regular course of 1959-1960. Ralph then commenced a four year tour of duty in Germany with several duty assignments: the 2d Howitzer Battalion, 7th Artillery (60-61); G-1 Section, Headquarters, 24th Infantry Division (61-62); Personnel and Administration Division, Headquarters, United States Army Europe (62-63); and Commanding Officer, 6th Battalion, 40th Artillery (63-64).
Following this duty in Germany Ralph was assigned to the Office of the Chief of Research and Development, Department of the Army, until early 1967. He then began a two year tour with the American Standardization Group in the United Kingdom and was assigned to duty with the Royal School of Artillery at Larkhill, England. From England, Ralph was ordered to duty with the 1st Signal Brigade, United States Army Strategic Communications Command, Vietnam, where he spent a challenging and rewarding year.
Colonel Starner had just commenced a long-awaited tour of duty in Hawaii at Schofield Barracks with the Headquarters, United States Army, Hawaii, when he died suddenly and unexpectedly on 9 September 1970. Graveside services were conducted at Arlington National Cemetery on 16 September 1970.
Ralph was a highly competent, intensely dedicated professional soldier who epitomized the motto, Duty, Honor, Country. He was liked and respected by all with whom he was associated. Ralph was also a strong family man and extremely proud of Steve, who was commissioned in the Field Artillery upon graduation from the United States Military Academy with the Class of 1970. Ralph carefully charted the ups and downs of Steve's academic and military aptitude standings, and periodically provided fatherly "buck-up" counseling. He was extremely pleased that he could return from Vietnam for June Week and to administer the oath to his son. We are certain that Ralph would have been equally pleased and proud on the occasion of Steve's marriage on 14 February 1971 to Mary Frances Scott, daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Willard W. Scott Jr., Field Artillery, Class of 1948.
As a classmate so wisely observed twenty-five years ago Ralph is truly a credit to the long gray line. Of his all too few years on earth, "May it be said, 'Well done, Be thou at peace'."
He is survived by his widow Joy; a son, Second Lieutenant Steven C. Starner, 2d Battalion, 75th Artillery at Hanau, Germany; his father, Lee Starner and a brother, Robert F., both of Hoffman, Minnesota.
John T. Price, Jr.