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CECIL EARLE NEWMAN, JR.,was born in Cuero, TX, the oldest of four sons born to Cecil and Olga Newman. The Newman family had a long history in Texas; Joseph Newman and his family were among the first settlers in Texas from the U.S. before 1836. Cecil attended public schools in Cuero, played high school football, and learned music. He could play the clarinet, saxophone, piano, and organ. Family members believed Cecil could have made a living using his musical talents, but he had other ideas. He did, however, use his musical talents with the Cadet Dance Orchestra while at West Point.
When Cecil graduated from high school, he entered Texas A&M. The 1942 entry class was the last at the college with an 8,000-man strong ROTC cadet corps and a very demanding "fish" (freshman) year. After a year at A&M, Cecil enlisted in the Army Specialized Training Program, a program being established to provide some college training that would lead to an appointment as an Army officer.
He was sent to Ohio State University for schooling, but the Army quickly changed its program, and Cecil wound up a private in the 102nd Infantry Division. Trained as an infantryman, he deployed with the division to the European Theater of Operations and took part in the division's fight across northern Europe. He earned a Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge before being pulled out of the line for a physical exam for an appointment to West Point. When he passed the physical, he was ordered back to the U.S. to attend the USMAP preparatory program at Cornell University.
In June 1945, he entered West Point, together with many others from the Army or Navy, but was one of the few with combat experience. At West Point, he easily fell into step with the Academy's routines. In academics, he diligently applied himself and stood comfortably in the middle third of his class. Significantly, his ‘49 Howitzer biography read in part, " [He] came to West Point with the fixed purpose of becoming a superior Infantry officer." In addition to playing for, and leading, the Cadet Dance Orchestra, he also sang in the Cadet Choir during his four years-as might be expected of one as talented in music as he was.
Upon graduation, he was commissioned in the. Infantry and married Westelle Anderson of Conway, SC, a young lady he'd met during a summer training trip two years earlier. Their first duty stations together were at Ft. Riley, for a short instruction course, and then to Ft. Benning for the five-month Basic Course. At Ft. Benning, Wes and Cecil became the proud parents of a baby girl, Catherine. Cecil was filmed with a 16mm movie camera holding his new baby daughter before leaving Ft. Benning.
Cecil received orders to the 5th Regimental Combat Team in Hawaii, and then the Korean War broke out. Cecil headed to San Francisco for further transportation to Hawaii. From Hawaii, he was flown to Camp Drake, near Tokyo, where he was assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, one of the units that had been on occupation duty in Japan and now was in combat in South Korea. Cecil was assigned to Company F, 5th Cavalry Regiment. Early on 15 Aug 1950, the unit, defending a portion of the Pusan Perimeter known as "Hill 303," came under heavy attack and was overrun. Cecil and others were surrounded by the North Korean attackers and taken prisoner. Cecil and one or two others drifted to the edge of the group with a view to escaping. Tragically, they were unsuccessful. Together with the other Americans in the area, Cecil's wrists were tied behind his back, and he was executed on the spot by his captors.
The 1st Cavalry Division Association has erected a memorial marker on Hill 303 in South Korea in memory of those killed. His remains were recovered several days later, and his body was returned to the U.S. He was interred on 5 Aug 1951, a year after his death, in the Newman family plot in the Hillside Cemetery in Cuero. The way Cecil died came to light only many years after his death. He was an infantryman doing his duty, but in combat against enemies with no respect for or understanding of the rules of warfare promulgated by the Geneva Convention.
Had Cecil lived long enough, he would have taken great pride in his grandchildren, as have Wes and other members of the extended Newman family. Catherine and her husband, Charles Brown, raised four children-Kelly, Christina, Natalie, and Colin. Each of these children is interested in-and have a talent for-music, as did their grandfather. They, like their grandfather, take great pleasure in their music.
His classmates remember Cecil as an individual who had the potential to make a real contribution to the Army had he lived longer. He fought for his country in ground combat in two wars. He always strove to be a better soldier. He truly embodied the ideals of West Point: "Duty, Honor, Country."